Print Friendly, PDF & Email

PESA Act:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:  Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Context:

Hundreds of kendu leaf pluckers, binders and workers recently staged a demonstration in Sambalpur, Odisha demanding the abolition of GST on kendu leaves.

 

What’s the issue?

A GST of 18 per cent is imposed on kendu leaves which is against the Forest Rights Act-2006 and the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to celebrate 25th year of PESA Act. Besides, the government has imposed a GST of 28 per cent on bidi which is a finished product made of kendu leaf. This double taxation has hit the profits of kendu leaf organisation and affected the livelihood of around 12 lakh workers. While the profits have reduced drastically, they are now deprived of many social security benefits too.

 

About Kendu Leaves:

  • Kendu leaf is called the green gold of Odisha. It is a nationalised product like bamboo and sal seed. It is one of the most important non-wood forest products in Odisha.
  • The leaves are used to wrap bidis, a popular smoke among the locals.
  • The Uniqueness of Odisha’s Tendu (kendu) leaf is in processed form whereas the rest of the states in India produce in Phal Form.
  • Traditional medical practitioners use these tiny fruits of Kendu to treat malaria, diarrhoea and dysentery.
  • Kendu leaves are the major source for tribal villages, since it is the most prominent Minor Forest Produce of the state.
  • Odisha is the third-largest producer of kendu leaf, after Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

 

About the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) to celebrate 25th year of PESA Act:

The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA Act is a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self-governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.

  • It was enacted by Parliament in 1996 and came into force on 24th December 1996.
  • The PESA is considered to be the backbone of tribal legislation in India.
  • PESA recognises the traditional system of the decision-making process and stands for the peoples’ self-governance.

Background:

To promote local self-governance in rural India, the 73rd constitutional amendment was made in 1992. Through this amendment, a three-tier Panchayati Raj Institution was made into a law.

  • However, its application to the scheduled and tribal areas under Article 243(M) was restricted.
  • After the Bhuria Committee recommendations in 1995, Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act 1996 came into existence for ensuring tribal self-rule for people living in scheduled areas of India.
  • The PESA conferred the absolute powers to Gram Sabha, whereas state legislature has given an advisory role to ensure the proper functioning of Panchayats and Gram Sabhas.
  • The power delegated to Gram Sabha cannot be curtailed by a higher level, and there shall be independence throughout.

 

current affairs

 

Powers and functions given to the Gram Sabhas:

  • Right to mandatory consultation in land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation of displaced persons.
  • Protection of traditional belief, the culture of the tribal communities
  • Ownership of minor forest products
  • Resolution of the local disputes
  • Prevention of land alienation
  • Management of village markets
  • Right to control production, distillation, and prohibition of liquor
  • Exercise of control over money-lending
  • Any other rights involving the Scheduled Tribes.

Issues Related to PESA:

The state governments are supposed to enact state laws for their Scheduled Areas in consonance with this national law. This has resulted in the partially implemented PESA.

  • The partial implementation has worsened self-governance in Adivasi areas,l ike in Jharkhand.
  • Many experts have asserted that PESA did not deliver due to the lack of clarity, legal infirmity, bureaucratic apathy, absence of a political will, resistance to change in the hierarchy of power, and so on.
  • As per Social audits conducted across the state, In reality different developmental schemes were being approved on paper by Gram Sabha, without actually having any meeting for discussion and decision making.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. About PESA.
  2. Key features.
  3. Rights under the act.
  4. Role of Gram Sabhas.
  5. Social audits.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of PESA.

Sources: Economic Times.