The Committee to review the existing Administrative Arrangements for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Programmes under the chairmanship of G.V.K. Rao was appointed by the Planning Commission in 1985. The Committee came to conclusion that the developmental process was gradually bureaucratised and divorced from the Panchayati Raj. This phenomena of bureaucratisation of development administration as against the democratisation weakened the Panchayati Raj institutions resulting in what is aptly called as ‘grass without roots’. Hence, the Committee made the following recommendations to strengthen and revitalise the Panchayati Raj system:
(i) The district level body, that is, the Zila Parishad should be of pivotal importance in the scheme of democratic decentralisation. It stated that “the district is the proper unit for planning and development and the Zila Parishad should become the principal body for management of all development programmes which can be handled at that level.”
(ii) The Panchayati Raj institutions at the district and lower levels should be assigned an important role with respect to planning, implementation and monitoring of rural development programmes.
(iii) Some of the planning functions at the state level should be transferred to the district level planning units for effective decentralized district planning.
(iv) A post of District Development Commissioner should be created. He should act as the chief executive officer of the Zila Parishad and should be in charge of all the development departments at the district level.
(v) Elections to the Panchayati Raj institutions should be held regularly. It found that elections became overdue for one or more tiers in 11 states.
Thus the committee, in its scheme of decentralised system of field
administration, assigned a leading role to the Panchayati Raj in local planning and development. It is in this respect that the recommendation of the G.V.K. Rao Committee Report (1986) differed from those of the Dantwala Committee Report on Block-Level Planning (1978) and the Hanumantha Rao Committee Report on District Planning (1984). Both the committees have suggested that the basic decentralised planning function should be done at the district level. The Hanumantha Rao Committee advocated separate district planning bodies under either the District Collector or a minister. In both the models, the Collector should play a significant role in the decentralised planning though the Committee stated that Panchayati Raj institutions would also be associated with this process (of decentralised planning). The committee recommended that the Collector should be the coordinator, at the district level, of all developmental and planning activities. Thus the, Hanumantha Rao Committee differed in this respect from those of Balwantray Mehta Committee, the Administrative Reforms Commission of India, the Ashok Mehta Committee and finally the G.V.K. Rao Committee which recommended reduction in the developmental role of the District Collector and which assigned a major role to the Panchayati Raj in development administration.