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Mrunal Manmay Dash

The Odisha Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Department on Friday notified reservation guidelines for the upcoming Panchayat elections, taking a step closer to resolve the seats reservation issue so that the three-tier panchayat polls could be held without any delay.

In a letter to all district Collectors, Ashok Meena, the Principal Secretary to the Government, laid out guidelines for reservation to the offices of Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members for the general elections scheduled in 2022.

For non-scheduled areas, the total reservation of seats in favour of Scheduled caste (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Backward Class of Citizens (BCC) will be kept within 50 per cent of the total seats and the reservation for BCC alone, which can vary, will be kept within 27 per cent of the total seats.

Up to 27 per cent of total seats will be reserved in favour BCC category and whenever necessary, the quantum of reservation for BCC will be reduced to such extent as required to limit the total reservation of seats in favour of SC, ST and BCC taken together within 50% .

The reservations provided to SC and ST will be ensured under provisions of Section- 10(3)(b-1) of the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, Section 16(2)(b-1) of Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959 and Section-6(3)(b-1) of Odisha Zilla Parishad Act,1991.

“Reservation of seats in the scheduled areas at every Panchayat will be in proportion to the population of the communities in that Panchayat for which the reservation is sought. Provided that the reservation for the Scheduled Tribes is not less than one-half of the total numbers of seats,” the letter stated.

Percentage of SCs and STs in the respective GP/ Block/ District according to the 2011 Census would be the determining factor for computation of number of seats/ offices to be reserved for SC or ST category in three tier Panchayati Raj system.

After reservation of seats of SC, ST and BCC categories, reservation for women will be made after arranging the Ward/ GP/ Constituencies in Odia alphabetical order, in the manner as provided in Panchayat laws so that the total reservation for women will not be less than 50 per cent of the total seats/ offices.

It is worthwhile to mention here that the Odisha Assembly had on September 8 passed the much awaited Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Bill 2021. The Bill, which provides reservation ceiling at 50 per cent for SC, ST and OBC, has effectively cleared all the legal impediments restricting the conduct of the Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) polls scheduled for early 2022.

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