Women to get 50 percent reservation in panchayats: Minister

New Delhi, Feb 4 (IANS) The Narendra Modi government will push constitutional amendment in the coming budget session of parliament for increasing reservation for women in panchayat bodies from 33 percent to 50 percent, union minister Birender Singh said on Thursday.

“Though some states had provided 50 percent reservation to women in panchayats, but through the constitutional amendment, it will be implemented in the whole country,” the rural development and panchayati raj minister said while addressing a national workshop on ‘Implementation of PESA Act: Issues and way forward’.

Panchayati raj and tribal development ministers from 10 states attended the workshop on Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act.

Singh also expressed hope that all political parties will extend support in the passage of the amendment.

“Reservation for women in panchayats will facilitate more women to enter public sphere and it will empower them and strengthen country’s parliamentary democracy at the grassroot level,” he said.

The minister said that government will bring another constitutional amendment to increase the tenure of ward reservation for women in panchayats from current five years to ten years.

“The government will also bring about changes in law to reserve the ward for women for two terms of five years each from the existing single term so that they can undertake developmental activities in a continued fashion,” he said.

Singh said on the basis of the report of the Bhuria Committee submitted in 1995, PESA was enacted in 1996 to extend part IX of the constitution with certain modifications and exceptions to Fifth Schedule areas in 108 districts in 10 states.

The senior BJP leader also made a strong pitch for the faster implementation of the act by states for the uplift of tribals, saying that they cannot wait any longer for development as they had already waited for 65 years.

“Effective implementation of PESA will enhance people’s participation in decision making at local level as tribal population will feel more comfortable to raise their issues and concerns in smaller gram sabhas at village level rather than at gram panchayat level,” he said.

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