It is basic, first formal democratic institution at the village level. The chairperson of this unit is called as Sarpanch. It is primary unit of local self-government. Gram panchayat is a cabinet of the village elders, directly elected by the adult citizens of the village. There are 8 to 10 ward punches, two or three coopted members, who constitute the body of Gram Panchayat; they are consists of 8 to 10 villages. There are three functional sub committees which meet four times every month to decide agricultural production programme, cottage industry programme, finance and budget and social amenities in Gram panchayat area.
The members of the Gram Panchayats have tenure of five years and are directly elected from wards while the Sarpanch is elected by the members. There is provision for reservation of seats for women and for scheduled casts and scheduled tribes. There is Gram Sabha for each panchayat and the Sarpanch is required to conduct Gram Sabha meetings at least once in six months. Also Sarpanch is required to conduct meeting of the members of the Panchayat once in a month.
Powers and Functions of the Sarpanch:
- To convene and preside over the meetings of the Gram Panchayat.
- To conduct and regulate and be responsible for the proper maintenance of the records of the proceedings of the meetings.
- To execute documents relating to controls on behalf of the Gram Shasan.
- To be responsible for the proper custody of all records and documents, all valuable securities and assets belonging to the Gram panchayat or belonging to the Gram shasan.
- To be responsible for the proper working of the Gram panchayat as required by or under the Act.
- To exercise supervision and control over the acts and proceedings of all officers and employees of the Gram panchayat.
- To have authority to enter into correspondence on behalf of Gram panchayat.
- To order preparation of all statements and reports.
- To exercise such other powers, discharge such other duties and perform such other functions as may be conferred or imposed on or assigned to him.
Power of Gram Panchayat Members:
- To supervise during office hours, the records of the Gram Panchayat after giving due notice to the Sarpanch.
- To move resolution or question on any office bearer on matters connected with the administration of the Gram Panchauyat.
- To exercise inspection overt all works undertaken by the Gram Panchayat.
- To supervise all institutions working under the direction, management and control of the Gram panchayat.
- To bring to the notice of the Sarpanch the irregularities if any, noticed during such inspection.
Functions of Gram Panchayat:
There are number of functions perform by Gram Panchayats. These functions are divided into two categories, namely, the obligatory functions and the options functions.
Following are the obligatory or the compulsory functions.
Following are the Obligatory or the Compulsory Functions:
- Construction, repairs, maintenance, alteration and extension of village roads, provisions of lights on the roads and other places of public resort and removal of encroachments and obstructions on the roads and other public places.
- Construction, maintenance and cleaning of drainage system and provision of sanitation in the village by the removal of filth and clearance of marshy areas.
- Supply of drinking water to the villages.
- Adoption of preventive measures against epidemics and other dangerous diseases, prevention of obnoxious and dangerous trade, registration of births and deaths and the preparation of the necessary records for the purpose.
- Maintenance of common pasture and other public institutions.
- Preparation of census records of men and animals, maintenance of relevant records and submission of periodic records and returns.
- Management of Panchayat properties as assets.
- Spread of primary education and its management.
- Social conservation.
- Control of Markets, ferries, fairs, Ghats and other public places.
- Adoption and encouragement of improved methods of cultivation.
- It has to perform such other functions which are given to the Gram panchayat on a compulsory basis.
In addition to the compulsory functions, each Gram Panchayat is also required to perform certain optional functions for the development of the rural people. These functions are given below:
- Planning and maintenance of trees.
- Development and maintenance of village forests.
- Development of the livestock.
- Construction, management and control of slaughter houses.
- Reclamation of cultivable wastes and follows land.
- Organization and management of multi-purpose co-operative societies.
- Famine relief measures.
- Establishment and maintenance of village libraries.
- Marketing of agricultural produce
- Organization of the Fire services and protection of life and property in case of fire.
- Maternity and child welfare and establishment of centers of the purpose.
- Establishment and management of village Akharas and clubs.
- Establishment and maintenance of works for providing employment in time of scarcity and establishment and granaries.
- Organization, management and promotion of cottage industries.
- Organization and maintenance of industrial and agricultural exhibitions.
- Construction and maintenance of Dharmasalas and Rest houses.
- Provision of adult education, establishment of primary schools with the prior approval of the panchayat samiti.
- Prevention of gambling and implementation of prohibition.
- To keep the records about the unemployed persons.