Right to Information activist Arvind Kejriwal has suggested a series of powers to strengthen the Gram Sabhas including decision making powers about village affairs and a right to recall Sarpanch for failing to function according to decisions of the Gram Sabha.

In a model amendment draft for the Goa Panchayati Raj already put in the public domain which predominantly speaks of devolution of powers to local self-government bodies in true sense, the Magsaysay award winner activist suggested creating of an institution of Lokpal for monitoring effectiveness of Gram Sabhas. The amendment draft, worked out at the request of Goan activists and non- governmental organisations, demands that all powers of Director of Panchayats presently given in Goa Panchayati Raj Act should be withdrawn as these are completely against democratic principles.

During his two-day tour of Goa beginning on Tuesday where the draft amendments would be debated at various forums, Mr. Kejriwal will make presentations of the amendments to people's representatives and seek public participation to take them forward and push for the amendments with the help of Goan people and political parties.

Goa Law Commission Chairman Ramakant Khalaphas scheduled a special meeting of Mr. Kejriwal, where Goan law-makers and other people's representatives and top bureaucrats would be briefed about these proposed amendments to seek a consensus.

Some of the features of the proposed amendments to strengthen Gram Sabhas are: Powers to decide how and where to spend government funds. They should be given completely untied funds for village affairs, powers to appoint its own employees like teachers, doctors, anganwadi workers, ration shop keepers, etc. If they do not work properly, Gram Sabha should have powers to summon them, question them and if needed penalise them.

It should have powers to decide whether to give land to government or a company for any project or not. If it decides to give land it should have powers to decide the terms and conditions at which they wish to give land. No liquor shop could be opened without the consent of the Gram Sabha in any village.

Keywords: RTI Act