Lack of people’s participation in Community Development Programmes made Balwantrai Meh Committee suggest initiation of PRIs.
The Committee felt that there would be a revival of public enthusiasm for community development with the coming of PRIs. They ascribed non-association of people and their representatives in the planning and execution of development programmes as la of support of people.
Hence, the significance of PRIs was to be seen not only in that it seeks to build up a system of local government, however well organised and decentralised it may be, but also that it seeks to tackle the problems at the grassroots level of building democracy and mobilising the entire potential manpower resources of the country for purposes of economic and social progress.
The idealism with regard to PRI was indicated in the Third Five Year Plan itself which said that the primary object ol the Panchayati Raj was to enable people of each area to participate in intensive and continuous development in the interest of the entire population. The elected representatives should be encouraged to view development of PRIs as offering new avenues of service to the people rather than opportunities for the exercise of authority.
Failure of CDP to evoke people’s participation provided the basis for Balwant Rai Mehta Committee, which was set up to recommend reforms at village level administration and it came to the following conclusions:
1. The popular participation in the CDP enlisted through advisory bodies was not adequate.
2. It felt the need for a separate set of statutorily created institutional arrangement to make the popular participation meaningful and effective.
The committee observed that there was need to discover or create a representative and democratic institution which will sustain the local interest, supervision and care, necessary to ensure that expenditure of money upon local objects conform with the needs and wishes of the locality, invest it with adequate power and assign to it appropriate finances, which would evoke local interest and excite local initiative in the field of development.
The Committee recommended that such a body should be statutory, objective, and comprehensive in its duties and functions, equipped with the necessary executive machinery and in possession of adequate resources. The committee also suggested that it should not be loaded with too much government control. Thus the requirement for real decentralization and meaningful popular participation was very emphatically stressed by the Mehta study team.