Kolkata: The Congress on Thursday demanded that
provisions of the 5th Schedule of the Constitution which give
certain benefits to tribals be included in the West Bengal
Panchayat Act, to help solve the Maoist problem.
"We request the government to incorporate provisions
of the 5th schedule in the state Panchayat Act so that the
panchayats can be extended to the scheduled areas," WBPCC
executive member Debaprasad Roy said on Thursday.
"This will give the tribals of junglemahal and north
Bengal a right to their land and the local water and forest
resources," he told a press conference in the presence of
WBPCC chief Pradip Bhattacharya.
Roy said provisions of the 5th schedule give certain
benefits to tribals like 100 per cent reservation for the post
of `pradhan` of the local bodies and 40 per cent tribal
representation in these bodies.
Pointing out that the state government has proposed
setting up of a Development Monitoring Committee from the
state to block level, Bhattacharya said there was no provision
to include elected representatives in it.
"Therefore, we want the government to take a re-look
at the committee and reconstitute it with people`s
representatives," Bhattacharya said.
Accusing the erstwhile Left Front government of
turning the panchayats into party units during their 34-year
rule, Bhattacharya said that gram sansad meetings were not
convened during the time and projects got passed in meetings
which had no quorum. Accounts were also not properly
"We, therefore, appeal to the new state government to
immediately convene gram sansad meetings so that projects and
accounts can be discussed before approval," he said.
These matters would come up for discussion at a PPC-
sponsored convention on Panchayati Raj on November 20, to be
addressed among others by Union Finance Minister Pranab
Mukherjee, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and
AICC spokesman Shakil Ahmed, Bhattacharya said.