Within the next 10 days or so, tribal people in as many as 567 villages in Adilabad and Kumram Bheem Asifabad district will be empowered to take decisions with regard to development and use of natural resources in respective place.
All these villages, forming part of 406 gram panchayats in Scheduled Areas, will have elected vice-presidents and secretaries to gram sabha committees by July 18.
The formation of grama sabha committees under the provisions of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996, is seen as the much awaited process of empowerment of the tribals by ushering in self rule, albeit to a limited extent and within the ambit of democracy.
The Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA), Utnoor, had made preparations for this activity since the last one year.
"The villagers will decide what development is required urgently in their habitations through grama sabhas. No development can happen without the consent of people once the grama sabha committee gets elected," Arka Vasanth Rao, PESA coordinator for KB Asifabad district, explained of the functioning of the grama sabha.
"The grama sabha will be the 'owner' of all local resources. Villagers will decide what to do with resources like sand and stone and how to go about doing it," he added.
The grama sabha will also be empowered to select beneficiaries in terms of economic support schemes and other governmental programmes.
For example, it can decide the names of beneficiaries and even take decisions with regard to the kind of activity that suits a beneficiary.
"The process of formation of grama sabha committees has been smooth during the first two days," observed the PESA coordinator.
"Almost all the elections held so far have been unanimous, a fact which also reveals that the functioning of the committees will also be smooth in the future.
J. Ganesh, Deputy Tahsildar, Adilabad Rural mandal, has conducted elections to three committees on Wednesday and all were unanimous.
"We need to elect only the vice-presidents and secretaries as the sarpanch concerned function as president of the grama sabha too," he revealed.