Rajiv's self-governance dream is shattered, so let's not talk about it

Read the report on Panchayati Raj the government wants to hide from you and me

prasanna

Prasanna Mohanty | July 9, 2010


PM unveiling the `State of the Panchayats Report 2008-09`
PM unveiling the `State of the Panchayats Report 2008-09`

Censorship is back. Only the style is more subtle this time, not the in-your-face variety that the Emergency of 1975 symbolised.

When the prime minister unveiled the “State of Panchayats Report 2008-09” to mark the National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24 this year, he was probably not aware that the report contained a chapter on “PESA, Left-Wing Extremism and Governance” which contained many unpalatable truths about governance.

More than two months have passed since then but the panchayati raj ministry has not made that report public to hide these truths from you and me. Now it is planning to publish the report minus this chapter!

What does this chapter say? It tells how successive central and state governments have turned Rajiv Gandhi’s dream of taking self-governance to the grassroots level sour. It tells how the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996 (PESA), which is meant for the tribal areas that the Maoists have seized, has been violated consistently. How the extensive power and complete command that the tribal communities have been given over their life, their environment and everything that has anything to do with them have been denied to them for more than 14 years.

It says by way of its concluding remark: “A decade-and-half on, however, its (PESA’s) promise of self-governance has a long way to go, even as the tribal communities grapple with intensifying challenges and conflicts, against the backdrop of liberalization.”

The report also tells how other constitutional provisions like the Fifth Schedule, meant specifically for the tribal areas, have been completely bypassed. How not one single Governor of nine states having the Scheduled Areas has ever fulfill his or her constitutional responsibility in protecting the tribals’ interest in all the 60 years!

It also says how the Forest Rights Act of 2006 is being violated in denying tribals the rights that have been guaranteed to them—over their land, over their forests, over the hills, over minor forest produces and all other natural resources, including minor minerals.

More importantly, when the country is grappling with the Maoist menace and the policy and law makers are running around like headless chicken in their search for an answer to the basic problem—that is lack of development—this report points out what to do to reverse the situation.

But, as the report exposes the government’s gross violation of its constitutional and other legal obligations, the Panchayati Raj ministry has decided to censor it.

Read the censored chapter in the attachment below.

 

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