Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA 

  • A law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.
  • Scheduled Areas are areas identified by the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  • Scheduled Areas are found in ten states of India which have predominant population of tribal communities.
  • The Scheduled Areas, were not covered by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment or Panchayati Raj Act of the Indian Constitution as provided in the Part IX of the Constitution. PESA was enacted on 24 December 1996 to extend the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution to Scheduled Areas , with certain exceptions and modifications.

PESA – (Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act,)

  • Sought to enable the Penchants at appropriate levels and Gram Sabhas to implement a system of self-governance with respect to a number of issues such as customary resources, minor forest produce, minor minerals, minor water bodies, selection of beneficiaries, sanction of projects, and control over local institutions.
  • Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, is an Act to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats and the Scheduled Areas.
  • PESA was viewed as a positive development for tribal communities in Scheduled Areas who had earlier suffered tremendously from engagement with modern development processes and from the operation of both colonial laws and statutes made in independent India.
  • The loss of access to forest, land , and other community resources had increased their vulnerability. Rampant land acquisition and displacement due to development projects had led to large scale distress in tribal communities living in Scheduled Areas.
  • PESA was seen as a panacea for many of these vulnerabilities and sought to introduce a new paradigm of development where the tribal communities in such Scheduled Areas were to decide by themselves the pace and priorities of their development .
  • Despite the great potential of PESA to turn around the destinies of people living in the Scheduled Areas the implementation of PESA in the ten states has left much to be desired.
  • Communities and Gram Sabhas are still struggling to establish their rights guaranteed by this impressive statute