Historical background: The villages in ancient India had always been autonomous units and their characteristic feature in administration was the prevalence of freedom and autonomy in governing the village institutions. During the British administration some efforts were made to revive the local self-governing institutions in India with a view to train the people in the administration of such institutions by giving them representations in such local bodies. As a result, municipalities, district school boards and janpadsabhas came to be established. Subsequently, village panchayats also came to be founded
and as a result of this it was possible for the British Government to regenerate confidence among the masses inhabiting the rural areas.
The establishment of the Zilla Parishad could be regarded as the culminating point in the achievement of the goal of local self-government. Prior to that, local autonomy was enjoyed in different degrees at the district, taluka and village levels. The local self-government units were provided by District Local Boards and the village panchayats.
With the advent of Independence, the principle of planned economic development was adopted and the community project and national extension service schemes were introduced to realise that objective. However, the experience gained indicated that the progress of rural development was not commensurate with the expectations of the Government and it was attributed to the non-participation of the rural folk in the implementation of such developmental schemes. Under the circumstances the Central Government thought it necessary to investigate the causes behind such a state of affairs and appointed a committee called the Balwantrai Mehta Committee.
The Balwantrai Mehta Committee undertook the study of the situation by visiting the developmental activities, by interviewing Government officials and social workers. The committee pointed out mainly the failure of the Government in appealing and attracting the leadership of masses in participating in the community and national development schemes. It also found that the institutions of the type of the local self-government had not taken any interest in participating in such developmental schemes. The committee came to the conclusion that the urgent necessity of the day to remedy the above state of affairs was the decentralisation of power and responsibility at the lower level. The committee, therefore, suggested that the responsibility for such regional and local development should be assigned to such local institutions at the district level with the Government accepting the role of guiding, supervising and planning from a higher level, making available the required finances, etc.
The Balwantrai Mehta Committee recommended the formation of local committees on par with the block development committees to be named as Panchayat Samitis and at the district level a district committee to be called Zilla Parishad instead of the earlier local self-governing institutions in order to secure integration in the various developmental activities. Thus an Act, to provide for the establishment in rural areas of Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis, to assign to them local government functions and to entrust the execution of certain works and development schemes to such bodies, was passed in 1961, known as the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961.
Thus now the Village Panchayats, the Panchayat Samitis and Zilla Parishad are the three responsible functionaries that are entrusted with the implementation of the developmental schemes. The Sholapur Zilla Parishad started functioning on August 12, 1962. The Zilla Parishad consists of 54 elected councillors, one woman-councillor co-opted by elected members of the Parishad and eleven chairmen of the Panchayat Samitis in the district.
Committees: In order to carry out the day-to-day work the various committees such as standing committee and subjects committees, viz., the finance committee, the works committee, the agricultural committee, the co-operation committee, the education committee and the health committee have been formed. The standing committee consists of the president, the chairman of the standing committee, seven councillors elected by the Zilla Parishad from amongst its members (including members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes), and not more than two persons to be co-opted by the Parishad, who are the associate members.
The President of the Zilla Parishad is the ex-officio chairman of the standing committee and the Deputy Chief Executive Officer as the ex-officio secretary of the standing committee.
President: The President of the Zilla Parishad is the non-official head of Zilla Parishad. He has to convene, preside over and conduct meetings of the Zilla Parishad; discharge all duties imposed and exercise all the powers conferred on him by the Act; watch over the financial and executive administration of the Zilla Parishad; and submit to the Zilla Parishad all questions connected therewith; and exercise administrative supervision and control over the Chief Executive Officer for securing implementation of resolutions or decisions of the Zilla Parishad or of any Panchayat Samiti.
Vice-President: The Vice-President, in the absence of the President, presides at the meetings of the Zilla Parishad, and exercises and performs such of the duties of the President as the President from time to time may, subject to the rules made by the State Government in this behalf, delegate to him. He also exercises the same functions of the President when the latter is absent or during the pendency of election of a President.
Chairman: Subject to the provisions of the Act, and the Rules made thereunder by the State Government, the chairman of the standing committee or a subjects committee convenes, presides over and conducts meetings of the committee. The chairman of any such committee, in relation to subjects allotted to the committee, is empowered to call for any information, return, statement, account or report from any officer employed by the Zilla Parishad or any
servant thereof; and enter on and inspect any immovable property occupied by the Zilla Parishad or any institution under the control and management of the Zilla Parishad or any work or development scheme in progress undertaken by the Zilla Parishad or under its direction.
The Chief Executive Officer, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Block Development Officers and heads of various departments of the Zilla Parishad constitute the executive organ of the Zilla Parishad. The Chief Executive Officer has power to call for any information, account or report from any officer or servant of the Zilla Parishad, and is entitled to attend the meetings of Parishad. He has to perform various duties in respect of the administration of the Zilla Parishad. He has to lay down duties of all officers and servants of the Zilla Parishad; supervise and control the execution of all activities of the Parishad; supervise the work and acts of officers and servants of the Zilla Parishad in matters of administration and those relating to accounts and records of the Parishad.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer is the secretary, ex-officio, of the Zilla Parishad as well as the standing committee.
The Block Development Officer is the ex-officio secretary of the Panchayat Samiti. He has every right to call for any information, return, statement, account, report or explanation from any of the officers or servants working under the Panchayat Samiti. He also exercises, in relation to works and development schemes to be undertaken from the block grants, such powers of sanctioning acquisition of property, sale or transfer thereof, as may be specified by the State Government.
Functions: In what follows is given the brief functioning of the various departments of the Zilla Parishad.
General Administration Department: The General Administration department of the Zilla Parishad deals with matters such as establishment, planning, Parishad audit, registry, revenue, village panchayat, social welfare and publicity, etc. The department is headed by the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Zilla Parishad who also acts as the secretary of the standing committee.
Finance Department: The Chief Accounts and Finance Officer of the Zilla Parishad is the head of the department who is also the secretary of the finance committee. He is assisted by an Accounts Officer. The Finance department is responsible for the allocation of finance according to the budgetary grant and regulates the expenditure according to the rules prescribed in this behalf. The inspection branch of the department audits the accounts of every Panchayat Samiti every three months. The Finance department is divided into four sections, viz., audit, accounts, budget and stores. The accounts of the Zilla Parishad are audited by an officer of the Local Fund Audit Department. In 1971-72 the income of the Zilla Parishad amounted to Rs. 8,29,39,000, of which Government grants accounted for Rs. 4,22,06,000 whereas self-raised resources amounted to Rs. 34,01,000.
The total expenditure incurred by the Zilla Parishad amounted to Rs. 7,53,67,000 in the year 1971-72, of which revenue expenditure accounted for Rs. 4,59,13,000.
Education department: The Education department is one of the major and important departments of the Zilla Parishad. The Educational Inspector, designated as Parishad Education Officer, acts as the secretary of the education committee of the Zilla Parishad that controls the department. He is assisted in his work by Assistant District Educational Inspectors. During the year 1966-67, 242 classrooms were constructed, 463 teachers were trained and 25 additional primary schools were started. In the year 1971-72 the revenue realised by the Education department amounted to Rs. 2,13,000 whereas expenditure stood at Rs. 2,41,15,000.
Co-operation and Industries department: The Co-operation and Industries Officer who is the secretary of the co-operation committee of the Zilla Parishad heads the Co-operation and Industries department. He is assisted by one Co-operative Officer, one Assistant Co-operative Officer, and other necessary staff.
This department is entrusted with promotional and developmental activities with certain reservations in respect of municipal areas. The regulatory functions are still vested in the State sector. Besides, the department in the district sector also exercises general supervision and control over the agricultural produce market committees in the district
In the year 1966-67 there were 1,014 credit and 734 non-credit societies functioning in the district. The revenue realised through Industries department amounted to Rs. 9,000 whereas expenditure came to Rs. 1,75,000 in the year 1971-72.
Agriculture department: The District Agricultural Officer is the head of the department in the district and has to act as the secretary to the agriculture committee of the Zilla Parishad which controls the work of the department in the district. The animal husbandry activities in the district are also under the control of the Agriculture department. However, the actual control in these matters vests in the District Animal Husbandry Officer.
In 1971-72 the revenue realised by the Agriculture department amounted to Rs. 22,000 whereas its expenditure came to
Rs. 14,03,000. In the year 1966-67, 1,814 animals were inseminated whereas in the year 1968-69, 2,46,844 animals were treated.
Works department: The Works department of the Zilla Parishad is under the control of the works committee of the Zilla Parishad and is headed by the Parishad Executive Engineer who also acts as the secretary to the works committee. The Parishad Executive Engineer is assisted in his work by the Deputy Engineer, Overseers, Sub-Overseers and other necessary technical and ministerial staff. The revenue realised by the department amounted to Rs. 4,35,000 whereas its expenditure came to Rs. 47,99,000.
Health department: The health matters of the district which were formerly looked after by the Public Health department and the Medical department of the State Government are, with the formation of the Zilla Parishad, looked after by the Public Health department of the Zilla Parishad. In the year 1971-72 the revenue realised by the Public Health department amounted to Rs. 66,000 whereas expenditure stood at Rs. 26,17,000.