NEW DELHI: The government will move a constitutional amendment in the ensuing budget session of Parliament to increase reservation for women in panchayats from 33 per cent to 50, Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Birender Singh announced Thursday.
He said that though some states had provided 50 per cent quota to women in panchayats, it could be implemented across the country through the proposed Constitutional amendment. He expressed the hope that all political parties would extend support for the passage of the amendment bill. The government is also planning to bring about changes in the law to reserve wards for women for two terms of five years each instead of the existing single term so that the representatives can undertake development activities.
In line with the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution, Panchayati Raj institutions currently have 33 per cent of all seats reserved for women. Singh also said that the government was mulling reduction in age limit for offering pension to widows. Currently, widows aged above 40 are eligible for pension. The Minister further made a strong pitch for faster implementation of the Panchayats Extension to the Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act by states for the uplift of tribal communities, saying that they could not wait any longer for development as they had already waited for 65 years.
“The effective implementation of PESA will enhance people’s participation in decision-making at the local level as tribal population will feel more comfortable to raise their issues and concerns in smaller Gram Sabhas at the village level rather than at Gram Panchayat level,” he reasoned.