Dimension 1: Effective Devolution of Functions
34 of the Sikkim Panchayat Act, 199,3 lists following obligatory
duties of the Gram Panchayat
Sanitation, conservancy and drainage and the
prevention of public nuisance;
Curative and preventive measures in respect of
any infectious disease;
Supply of drinking water and the cleaning and
disinfecting of the sources of supply and storage water;
Maintenance, repair and construction of village
roads and protection thereof;
Removal of encroachments of village roads and
Management of common grazing grounds, burning
places and public graveyards;
Supply of any local information which the
District Collector or District Development Officer-cum-Panchayat
Officer or the Zilla Panchayat may require, within the limits of
the jurisdiction of the Gram Panchayat;
Organising voluntary labour for community work
and works for the upliftment of its areas.
As per Section 35 of the Act a Gram Panchayat
shall also perform such other functions as the State Government
may assign to it in respect of
Primary, social, technical or vocational
Rural dispensaries, health centres, maternity and
child welfare centres;
Grow more food campaign; and
Care of the infirm and destitute.
Powers of the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) as per Section
69 and 70 of the Act, are as follows:
Regulating melas or haats within its local
Construction and maintenance of Panchayat Ghars,
Dharamsalas and rest houses;
Construction, repair and maintenance of such
small irrigation projects as may be specified by the State
Government, and regulating of supply of water therefrom for
Regulating supply of water for irrigation or
drinking water supply schemes constructed by the Government and
entrusted to it for maintenance and repairs;
Establishing and maintaining primary schools and
organising adult education centres;
Establishing health centres and maternity and
child welfare centres; and
Managing or maintaining any works of public
utility and adopting measures for the relief of distress.
Other duties of Zilla Panchayat are
the promotion of opportunity of employment
through community farming by organising model agriculture or
dairy farms and small scale village industries;
the organisation and maintenance of clubs and
other places for recreation or games;
establishment and maintenance of library or
reading rooms and public radio listening centres; and
construction and maintenance of destitute homes,
slaughter houses and encamping grounds.
Activity Mapping and Functional Devolution:
A Joint Statement of Conclusion was signed by the
Union Minister of Panchayati Raj with the Chief Minister after
the Union Minister’s visit to the State in April, 2006. As per
the Statement, Sikkim will complete activity mapping within
three months, and separate the State Budget into State sector
and Panchayat sector by October. Accordingly, a Task Force was
constituted to make recommendations on the subjects listed
Activities which may be transferred to the PRIs on the principle
Funds which shall be transferred to the PRIs to discharge the
activities transferred and the procedure of transfer thereof;
The functionaries who shall be transferred to the PRIs with
clarity of their roles and matters related to control of such
The Committee is headed by the Secretary, Land
Revenue & Disaster Management Department and comprises
representatives of 19 departments. The final report of the
Committee has been submitted to the Government and has been
jointly released by the Chief Minister and the Union Minister
of Panchayati Raj and Youth Affairs and Sports on 25th
October, 2006, in Gangtok.
The Report of the Committee is very comprehensive
and has recommended transfer of functions relating to 15
Sectors/Departments to the Zilla Panchayats and the Gram
Panchayats. These include Agriculture and Food Security,
Horticulture and Cash Crops, Animal Husbandry, Livestock and
Veterinary Services, Education, Health & Family Welfare,
Forests, Environment & Wild Life, Commerce & Industries,
Disaster Management, Irrigation, Culture, Art & Heritage, Rural
Water Supply, Rural Bridges, Rural Sanitation and
The Report has also recommended that a separate
Panchayat Sector may be provided in the State Budget wherein the
grants to the Panchayats deducted at source shall be reflected.
The Report has also recommended posting of
officers of the line departments, designation- wise, to specific
Zilla Panchayats/Gram Panchayats. A comprehensive list has been
prepared for each and every Gram Panchayat and appended to the
Report as Schedule-II. The Gram level functionaries are to be
placed under the administrative control of the Gram Panchayats.
Block Development Officer (BDO) as Administrative Officer will
be directly answerable to Panchayat and other officials will
function under administrative control of BDO. The available
manpower in the District under the line departments is also to
be placed under the administrative control of the Zilla
Panchayats, as per the recommendations.
Activity Mapping Report has been completed and
approved by the State Government of Sikkim. It shall be enforced
from the next financial year.
Dimension 2: Effective Devolution of
The devolved functions are
administered by elected Panchayat representatives assisted by
State Government employees posted to the Panchayats. One
Panchayat Assistant and Office helper has been posted to each of
the 166 GPs. An interesting aspect of GP level arrangements is
that the Panchayat ‘Secretary’ is elected from amongst the
elected Panchayat representative. Progressively, line
department functionaries of a few departments are being posted
to the Gram Panchayats, For example, DFO has now been posted
with the ZP.
However, these staff continue to draw their
salaries from the parent department.
However, all district level
officers are enjoined through executive orders to attend all
Gram Sabha meetings compulsorily. A system of “guardian”
officers who are senior level district officer, has been
instituted, under which officers are assigned to individual GPs
for the purpose of guiding them in their functioning.
It has notified appointment of
guardian officers for each Gram Panchayat, not below the rank of
Deputy Secretary. These guardian officers are to guide the Gram
Panchayats in convening, conducting Gram Sabhas and preparation
of Village Plans. Offices have been established in every Gram
Panchayat Unit under the name of Gram Prasashan Kendras. This
is the administrative centre of the Gram Panchayats where all
line department officials and Panchayat members have their
office for local administration.
A Draft Sikkim Panchayati Raj Service Rules have
been prepared and are under the examination by the State
The Zilla Panchayat is supported by the
District Development cum Panchayat Officer (DDO), Assistant DDO
and a Panchayat Inspector. Each Zilla Panchayat has been
provided with an Engineering cell and administrative and
accounts staff. All heads of the different departments of the
districts are under the Zilla Panchayat.
The District Collector is the Ex-officio
Secretary of Zilla Panchayat. Each district is well provided
with sufficient office facilities through the Zilla Panchayat
Bhawan. It is reported that the funds that are sanctioned for
different works are placed at the disposal of the District
Dimension 3: Effective Devolution of Finances
Delegation of financial powers to Panchayats in
The State does not have a district sector/
Panchayat window in its budget. However, a Panchayat Sector has
been in existence in the Budgets of line departments although,
the quantum of funds provided is inadequate. In the current
year Rs. 89 lakhs has been allocated to the Panchayats by six
departments in their Budget. Funds are released to Panchayats
through banks on a broadly quarterly basis. Funds are sent
directly by State departments to ZPs through cheques for
undertaking activities. Therefore there is some modicum of
separation of the budget into what ought to go to Panchayats,
even though it doesn’t find place in the budget as a separate
line item. However, most of the funding received by Panchayats
is from the Rural Management and Development (RMD) Department.
Every year untied block grants of
Rs. 10 lakhs are being provided to each Gram Panchayat and Rs.
50 lakhs to each District Panchayat. Panchayats are free to plan
and implement programmes using these funds, subject to broad
conditionalities aimed at human development, infra-structural
development, health, welfare, skill development, small scale
industries, village tourism, afforestation and conservation of
the environment, economic upliftment of the dis-advantaged and
the vulnerable sections of the rural society and promotion of
Through heads of own resources are assigned to
Panchayats under the Law collection is low. The main source of
own revenues is house taxes. No restrictions are put on
Panchayats on expenditure of their own funds. There are no
incentives for Panchayats to raise their own revenues.
Funds are transferred to the GPs through banks.
The State has agreed to adopt the system suggested by Ministry
of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) for the transfer of 12th FC
Funds through banks. The track record of the State in sending
funds down to Panchayats, particularly of Second Finance
Commission (SFC) and Third Finance Commission (TFC) grants and
other untied funds is good. Details are given below
Financial Powers to Panchayats:
Funds are routed to the Panchayats only through
Rural Development Department and not directly to Panchayats. It
was been decided in 2002, by the Government that 10% of the
total fund of each department will be given to the Panchayats.
Further devolution were made in July 2003, when 10% of land
revenue and house tax collected within Panchayat units was
transferred to Rural Development Department for disbursement.
The Panchayats have also been authorized to collect taxes on
certain items. Despite this income of Panchayats is inadequate.
Each Gram Panchayat gets Rs. 10 lakhs as a
largely untied fund, with broad dos and don’ts on what it can
be spent. The latest sectoral allocation is as follows:
Table 4: Sectoral Allocation of Untied Funds
Creation of assets
Maintenance of existing assets
Entrepreneurship Development Programme
Skill Upgradation Programme
Marketing and Operation of products of
Sources: Government of Sikkim
Each ZP is given Rs. 50 lakhs per annum as untied
funds, over and above funds given for general administration,
again with broad dos and don’ts.
Sikkim has a consistent policy of giving partly
untied block grants to Panchayats. On a per-capita level, this
is quite substantial as compared to other States.
Establishment of State Finance Commissions (SFCs)
and their reports:
The First State Finance
Commission was constituted in 1998 and a majority of its
recommendations have been accepted by the State Government and
are being implemented.
The Second State Finance
Commission was constituted in 2003 and submitted its report in
2004.The recommendations contained in the report have received
assent of the State Legislative Assembly in February, 2006. The
report recommends the introduction of certain taxes , rates and
charges to augment the revenue of Panchayats. The main
recommendation include :
Introduction of taxes on
Introduction of user charges
for drinking water.
Introduction of user charges
for use of irrigation water.
Introduction of fees for
construction of houses in panchayat areas.
Introduction of fees for
occupation of rural produce marketing centres.
Assignment of taxes on fairs,
melas and other entertainment in panchayat areas.
Introduction of service
charge for registration of birth and death.
In addition, the second Finance
Commission has recommended for strengthening the administrative
and planning machinery of the Panchayats.
Twelfth Finance Commission Grants:
The State has been allocated a sum of Rs. 13
crore for the period 2005-2010 as grants recommended by the
Twelfth Finance Commission for the Panchayati Raj Institutions.
The High Level Committee constituted as per the guidelines of
the Finance Commission has approved the utilization of these
grants in the following manner:
(i) Creation of Data base of the
Panchayats- Rs. 20 lakhs
(ii) Maintenance of Accounts of
Panchayats- Rs. 10 lakhs.
(iii) Operation and Maintenance of Civic
Services- Rs. 1270 lakhs
The inter-see allocation of the grants between
the Zilla Panchayats and the Gram Panchayats has been approved
in the ratio of 3:7. Software for creation of database is being
prepared by NIC. For maintenance of accounts a Charted
Accountant has been engaged to ensure that all accounts of the
Gram Panchayats are maintained in the prescribed formats and
hands-on training is also provided to the Sachiva of the Gram
Panchayats and the Rural Development Assistant who assists the
Sachiva. It is also proposed to prepare a balance sheet of each
Gram Panchayat for 2005-06.
The State has so far secured only the first
Installment of 2005-06 of Rs. 130 lakhs. This amount has been
fully transferred to the PRIs within the stipulated period.
Request for release of next instalment has already been made.
Dimension 4: Gram Sabhas
Gram Sabha, powers and functions:
The Gram Sabhas has been vested with the
Mobilizing voluntary labour and contributions in
kind and cash for the community welfare programmes
Identification of beneficiaries for
implementation of developmental schemes pertaining to the
Rendering assistance in the implementation of
Approval of annual statement of accounts of the
Gram Panchayat (GP)
Report in respect of development programmes
proposed to be undertaken during the current year
Promotion of unity and harmony among all sections
of society in the village
Promotion of programme on adult education within
the village; and
Other matters as the State Government may
Meetings of Gram Sabha
As per the PR Act, the Gram Sabha shall meet at
least twice in a year and where the Gram Panchayats fails to
convene Gram Sabha, the prescribed authority shall with the
approval of the State Government and after giving notice to the
Gram Panchayat concerned, convene it.
Quorum for the Meeting and Resolution
As per the Section 7 of Sikkim
Panchayat (Amendment) Act, 2005 quorum for the meeting of a Gram
Sabha and Ward Sabha shall be one- fifth and one-fourth of
the total members of the Gram Sabha or Ward Sabha.
Respectively One-third of the quorum shall comprise of Women.
Under sub-section (2) of 7 of the
Sikkim Panchayat Act, 1993, any resolution relating to matters
entrusted to the Gram Sabha shall be passed by a majority of
members present and voting in the meeting of the Gram Sabha.
Rules have also been notified for convening and conducting Gram
Status of Ward Sabha
The Sikkim Panchayat Act has been
amended to allow convening of Ward Sabhas (5-9 wards comprise a
Gram Panchayat Unit).
Dimension 5: Planning
Sikkim has established District Planning
Committees in accordance with Article 243-ZD of the
Constitution. During the visit of the Union Minister PR to
Sikkim in March-April, 2006, Sikkim had undertaken to put in
place detailed operational guidelines to ensure that DPCs
function in accordance with Article 243 ZD of the Constitution.
District plans will be prepared on the basis of village/block
level plans. DPC is chaired by the elected chairperson of the
Zilla Panchayat. All ZP members are members of DPC (around 25
per district) and about 10 –12 stakeholders are nominated as
Members. To facilitate the planning work, in each of the four
districts of Sikkim there is a District Planning Committee. It
consists of the following members:
The Adhyaksha of the Zilla Panchayat (Chairman)
The District Development officer-cum-Panchayat officer (Member
Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Assembly
constituencies comprised in the district.
3 members of Zilla Panchayat besides the
An economist/senior administrator appointed by the State
It is reported that the District Planning
Committee consolidates the plans prepared by the Gram Panchayats
and the Zilla Panchayat based on which a draft development plan
for the entire district is prepared. The chairman of District
Planning Committee forwards this development plan, as
recommended by the committee to the State Government for further
There is some degree of village
planning going on with the involvement of the Gram Sabha, as
untied funds are placed with the Panchayats for the same. Gram
Sabhas are conducted at least twice a year.
A small bilaterally aided
project, the Indo Swiss Project for Sikkim has been facilitating
local planning. Through the project, a Task Force constituted
supported by and chaired by Secretary Revenue, Shri K.N. Sharma
was constituted to recommend a planning methodology. The Task
Force report has received the approval of the Cabinet.
Thereafter, detailed operational guidelines have been issued. In
pursuance of the guidelines, notifications have also been issued
for constituting Gram Planning Forums in each Gram Panchayat and
Technical Support Committee in each Zilla Panchayat to assist
the DPC. The District Technical Support Committee comprising of
the senior most line department officials of the District shall
be under the Administrative Control of the DPC. The Gram
Planning Forum constituted in each Gram Panchayat comprises of
all the elected members of the Gram Panchayats, all village
level line department officials and five experts from the Gram
Panchayats nominated by the Gram Sabha. The members of the
Forums were provided training during the first half of September
and simple guidelines have been issued in English and Nepali.
These Forums have prepared their plans and passed in the Gram
Sabhas. It is expected that the preparation of Plans as per its
recommendations would be initiated from the next financial year
Status of Standing Committee
There is no provision in the
Panchayat Act for Standing Committees at the Gram Panchayat
level. Although provision has been made for Standing Committees
at the ZP level, they have not been constituted in every
Dimension 6: Implementation
Election of Gram Panchayat Chairperson.
As per (section 17(1) of The Sikkim Panchayat
Act, 1993)Every Gram Panchayat in its first meeting at which
quorum is present elects one of its members to be the Sabhapati
and another member to be the Up-Sabhapati of the Gram Panchayat.
Thus the Chairperson is not directly elected.
The Gram Panchayat elects its own Panchayat
Secretary, from amongst its members, which is a unique feature.
Citizen Charter is under preparation. Since
Panchayat function encompasses all line department activities,
all line departments have been requested to provide its
departmental charter vis-a-vis the PRIs so that a comprehensive
Panchayat Charter can be prepared.