N.J. Nair

First phase of the delimitation process complete

Number of grama panchayats goes down by 22

Number of municipalities goes up from 53 to 60

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An exclusive grama panchayat for Scheduled Tribes will come into being at Idamalakudi in Idukki district.

The total population of the tribal panchayat has been estimated at 5,500. The new panchayat will have 13 divisions, with each ward having a strength around 400 people.

Sources in the State Delimitation Commission told The Hindu that the total number of grama panchayats in the State would come down from 999 to 977, but it has been decided to add one ward each to all grama panchayats. By fixing the strength of local self-government institutions, the Commission has completed the first phase of the delimitation process.

While deciding to add five adjoining panchayats to the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, the commission has decided to make three panchayats part of the Kozhikode Corporation. Two panchayats will be merged with the Kottayam municipality and one each with Thripunithura, Kodungalloor and Irinjalakuda municipalities in Ernakulam district and two with Guruvayur municipality in Thrissur district. Seven grama panchayats will be upgraded as municipalities. Thus the number of municipalities will go up from 53 to 60. The panchayats to be upgraded as municipalities are Karunagapally in Kollam, Maradu, Thrikkakara and Eloor in Ernakulam district, Kottakkal and Nilambur in Malappuram district and Neeleswaram in Kasaragod. All these panchayats have an urban nature and have witnessed a construction boom of late. The delimitation proposals have been formulated on the basis of the density of population, area and own funds generated in each civic body. The government is understood to have recommended the commission to upgrade civic bodies having more than a population of 50,000, own income of Rs.20 lakh and 20 sq. km area. Density of population and the ratio of non-agriculture male labourers were the norms considered for upgrading panchayats as municipalities.

Proposals to amend the Panchayati Raj Act and Municipalities Act too have been drawn up.

As per the existing strength, there are 16,139 wards in 999 grama panchayats. This includes 9,106 general divisions, 5,705 reserved for women, 1,750 SC and 208 ST wards.