The Odisha government revised three laws ahead of the panchayat elections to penalise candidates who supply misleading information in the affidavit filed for the rural elections.
Through an ordinance, the ruling BJD administration revised the Odisha Grama Panchayat Act, 1964, the Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959, and the Odisha Zilla Parishad Act, 1991.
According to the ordinance, a candidate who, with the intent to be elected in an election, gives false information that he knows or has reason to believe is false or conceals any information in his nomination paper or in his affidavit, will be punished by imprisonment for a term of up to six months, a fine, or both.
Similarly, any elected member of the three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) shall be disqualified if he or she has not filed an affidavit detailing his criminal history, assets and obligations, and educational qualifications at the time of nomination.
The state, which is frequently hit by natural disasters such as cyclones, has delegated disaster management authority to Grama Panchayats and Panchayat Samities (blocks).
Now, gramme panchayats and panchayat samities can develop their own disaster management plans at the village, panchayat, and panchayat samiti levels, as well as carry out and facilitate relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction activities in disaster-affected areas, in accordance with the state and district plans.
Other catastrophe management procedures can also be taken by the two institutions. The Zilla Parishad Act, however, does not incorporate this provision.
In the meantime, the state government has released a new draught seat reservation list for the position of Zilla Parishad (ZP) chairperson in 30 districts.
According to the draught notification, seven seats are earmarked for ST candidates and five seats are reserved for SC candidates out of the 30 ZP chairperson seats.
However, no seats have been set aside for Other Backward Classes, according to sources, because the Supreme Court recently ordered that no seats be set aside for them until adequate enumeration of the community is completed.
(With IANS inputs)