At the District Level, the district planning can be done either by Central Governments, or by State governments or by a body set up for the purpose at the district level.
Article 243ZD of the Constitution, inserted as a result of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, lays down that in every state, a District Planning Committee shall be constituted in each district to consolidate the plans prepared by the Panchayats and the Municipalities in the districts concerned and to prepare a draft development plan for the district as a whole. The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act has:
(1) Conceived the Planning commission as constitutional authority.
(2) Envisaged these institutions to be representative of the structure of the district population.
(3) Facilitated integration of planning for urban as well as rural areas.
(4) Specified the broad objectives of District Planning Committee and yet permitted state and district level flexibility in the definition of their functions.
(5) Allowed freedom to the states to prescribe the manner of the election of the chairperson of a DPC
(6) Accorded central importance to spatial planning.
(7) Provided for sharing of natural resources between the panchayats and the municipalities and of the integrated development of infrastructure.
(8) Underscored the value of environmental conservation in an integrated manner.
(9) Prescribed for integration between the district and state plans.
Scope of district planning
The Planning projects carried out by the different departments at the district level have been divided into state sector and the district sector.
On the other hand, projects whose dimensions affect more than one district and whose benefits have a wider expanse are placed under the State Sector. However, such division does not apply to projects sponsored by the Central Government projects being carried out with the foreign help.
Machinery for planning
At the district level, the Deputy Commissioner (or Collector) functions as the Chief Development Officer. He comes next to the Development Commissioner in the official hierarchy co-ordinates the activities of the various technical officers at the district level.
Next comes the Sub-Divisional level which the Deputy Commissioner performs at the district level. Next in the hierarchy comes the Block Development Officer and at the base is the village level worker who is a multi-purpose administrative and social worker.
He is, however, to receive instructions and guidance in technical matters from Technical Officers at the various levels. The number of technical officers in each Development Block is: – One Block Development Officer, three Extension Officers (one each for agriculture, animal husbandry, co-operatives and Panchayats), two Social Education Organizers (one man, and one woman), one Overseer and 10 Village Level Workers.
This staff is inclusive of the existing staff of the various development departments in the area which would be absorbed in the National Extension Service Organization with such training and orientation as may be necessary.
Alongside the official organization, there is, at every level, people’s organization to plan, and advise the officers in the implementation of the development programme.
At the village level, there is the Village, Panchayat or, where there is not Panchayat, a Gram the block level, Block Advisory Committees consisting of representatives of the Village Committees, local members of the Legislature and Parliament and representatives of cooperative societies and progressive farmers; and at the district level is the District Development Committee consisting of prominent non-officials and the head of technical departments at the district level. Through these Committees effective participation of the people in the planning and implementation of the Plan is secured.
With the establishment of Panchayati Raj in different States, the system of administrative organization at the Block and village levels is undergoing a radical change.
The Village Panchayats at the village level and the Panchayat Samitis at the Block level now becoming effective instruments of development administration and the Block level government staff is coming under their supervision and control.
At the District level also there is a slight shift in favour of the popular body, now called Zila Parishad. The Zila Parishad would exercise supervisory powers over Panchayat Samitis in the developmental activities and the Deputy Commissioner would be an executive agent of the Parishad.
The scheme, when adopted in full, would bring about complete democratic decentralization in our administration and would, thus, fulfill the long cherished rational goal of Gram Swaraj.
Functions of the district planning and development board and its executive committee
(1) To collect up-to-date statistics of the natural and human resources of the district
(2) To fix priorities for their suitable use and exploitation
(3) To prepare plans and schemes for their utilization and to include them in the annual and five year plans at the district level
(4) To monitor and evaluate the working of various development projects being conducted in the district sector
(5) To secure active participation of local institutions, social service organisations and the common man in the implementation of district plans and schemes
(6) To give final shape to the district plan and annual work programmes of the Lead Bank and to approve the annual work programmes of the district.