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Block Development Councils (also known as Panchayat samiti, Kshetra panchayat, Mandal panchayat, Taluka panchayat) are rural local governments (panchayats) at the intermediate level in panchayat raj institutions (PRI).
It has been said to be the "panchayat of panchayats".
They operate at the tehsil (taluka) level and govern the villages of the tehsil that together are called a development block. The panchayat samiti is the link between the gram panchayat (village council) and the zila parishad (district board). The name varies across states: mandal parishad in Andhra Pradesh, taluka panchayat in Gujarat, and mandal panchayat in Karnataka.
Typically, a taluka panchayat is composed of elected members of the area: the block development officer, members of the state's legislative assembly, members of parliament belonging to that area, otherwise unrepresented groups (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women), associate members (such as a farmer, a representative of the cooperative societies and one from the agricultural marketing services sector) and the elected members of that panchayat block (tehsil) on the zila parishad (district board).
The samiti is elected for five years and is headed by a chairman and deputy chairman elected by the members of the panchayat samiti. One sarpanch samiti supervises the other grampanchayats. It acts as a co-ordinating body between district panchayat and grampanchayat.
A coterminous mandal parishad is constituted for each revenue mandal. A mandal parishad is composed of:
Mandal parishad territorial constituency (MPTC) members are directly elected by the voters, whereas the mandal president is elected by the MPTC members. The members are elected for a term of five years. The election to MPTCs is done on a party basis. The elections are conducted by the state election commission.
The sarpanchs are permanent invitees to the mandal parishad meetings.
The most common departments found in a panchayat samiti are:
Each department in a panchayat samiti has its own officer. Most often these are state government employees acting as extension officers, but occasionally in more revenue-rich panchayat samiti, they may be local employees. A government-appointed block development officer (BDO) is the supervisor of the extension officers and executive officer to the panchayat samiti and becomes, in effect, its administrative chief.
The panchayat samiti collects all the prospective plans prepared at Gram Panchayat level and process them for funding and implementation by evaluating them from the angles of financial constraints, social welfare, and area development. It also identifies and prioritizes the issues that should be addressed at the block level.
For many panchayat samiti, the main source of income is state aid. For others, the traditional taxing function provides the bulk of revenues. Tax revenues are often shared between the gram panchayats and the panchayat samiti.
The Panchayat Samiti [...] is also referred to as the Community Block and is in fact the Panchayat of Panchayats.