Local government in Tamil Nadu


Local bodies in Tamil Nadu constitute the three tier administration set-up in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a system of local government which forms the last level from the Centre.[1] Chennai Corporation (now in Tamil Nadu) in the then Madras Presidency, established in 1688, is the oldest such local body not only in India but also in any commonwealth nations outside United Kingdom.[2][3]


The history of local bodies in Tamil Nadu dates back to the Ancient period wherein the village administration was taken care by a Village assembly known as Sabai (Tamil: சபை) in every village. Further, each village was divided into several wards known as mandalams (Tamil: மண்டலம்).[4] This is evident from the epigraph inscriptions found in Vaikuntha Perumal Temple near Uthiramerur. They used the pot-ticket system of election (Kudavolai Murai) (Tamil: குடவோலை முறை) to elect representatives to the assembly.

Later came the British rule in India in which the centralisation of governance was enforced. People in the interior of the villages had to walk up to the central authorities for their obligations and grievances. Anyhow this system faded out as the British government realised the pitfalls in this system. Laudable efforts of Ripon brought legislation in this aspect which created unions in small towns and villages, to facilitate proper sanitation and lighting. Later, councils were constituted in this regard for which the members are directly elected by elections. Councils were made accountable to an Inspector and Chairman.[5] Though urbanisation was less prevalent those days, Chennai (erstwhile Madras) had the honour of having such Municipal Corporation status even in 1688. Urban local bodies known Municipalities were in existence. The Local and Municipal Department was functioning in the then Secretariat from 1916. It had local, municipal, plague, medical and legislative branches.[6]

Independent India heard many voices for the revival and strengthening of the Village panchayats, Mahatma Gandhi insisted upon this for achieving Swaraj completely covering all the corners of this country. Later, a committee set up by Government of India, popularly known Balwant Rai Mehta Committee committee suggested the formation of three-tier Panchayati Raj system.[7] From then, there came many legislation to ensure effective system of Local governance in Tamil Nadu. Notable legislative orders to Local Bodies by the centre-state governments include:

  1. Article 40 of Indian Constitution
  2. Madras Village Panchayat Act, 1950
  3. Tamil Nadu District Municipalities (Amendment) Act, 1950
  4. Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1958
  5. Tamil Nadu District Development Councils Act, 1958
  6. Tamil Nadu Panchayats Act, 1994 (ratification to 73rd and 74th Amendment of the Constitution of India)


Developmental administration is the main objective of these local bodies.[8] They are effected by the means of urban and rural local bodies. They are responsible for the implementation of various centrally sponsored, state-funded, and externally aided schemes for provision of basic amenities and other services to the people. Elections are held to elect the representatives for local body council in respective urban and rural areas every five years. The Ministry of Municipal Administration and Rural Development, Government of Tamil Nadu is the state government governing body for local bodies which is headed by a Minister who is an elected member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.

Administrative unitsEdit

Local bodies are categorised into urban local bodies and rural local bodies. This classification is rooted in terms of living standards in the context of urban and rural agglomeration.

Urban local bodiesEdit

The urban local bodies act as platform between the people in the urban areas and the administration. According to 2011 census of India, Tamil Nadu has about 48.45% of total population living in urbanised areas.[9] Depending on the population and income of the urban local bodies, they are further classified into three categories.[10]

  1. City municipal corporations
  2. Municipalities
  3. Town panchayat

Larger cities of Tamil Nadu are governed by city municipal corporations (Tamil: மாநகராட்சிகள்). Tamil Nadu has 21 municipal corporations: Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Salem, Tiruppur, Erode, Tirunelveli, Vellore, Thoothukudi, Dindigul, Thanjavur, Hosur, Nagercoil, Avadi, Tambaram, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore, Karur, Kumbakonam and Sivakasi These cities alone house one-third of urban population of the state. Corporation consists of a council of elected councillors from each ward and a presiding officer, Mayor who is also an elected representative. Apart from them, an executive authority referred as Corporation Commissioner is also vested with administrative powers.

Municipalities (Tamil: நகராட்சிகள்) fall next to the city corporations. There are about 138 Municipalities in Tamil Nadu. Municipalities have four categories based on their annual income and population. These include 8 special-grade municipalities, 28 selection-grade municipalities, 34 grade I municipalities, 68 grade II municipalities.[11] Their elected representatives include ward councillors and a presiding officer, Municipal Chairperson. Municipal Commissioner is the executive authority.

Town panchayat (Tamil: பேரூராட்சிகள்) is the body of government for areas in transition form ‘rural’ to ‘urban’. Tamil Nadu is the first state to introduce such a classification in urban local bodies.[12] The state has 489 town panchayats.[13] Town panchayats are upgraded to Grade III municipalities if they are found to be eligible. They are categorised in a similar way to that of Municipalities depending on the income criteria and population. Town panchayat council include elected ward councillors and their presiding officer, Town panchayat chairperson. Executive Officer is the executive authority as in the case of town panchayats.

Rural local bodiesEdit

Rural local bodies include the panchayat raj institutions of this state. There are three levels in this system as follows.

  1. Village panchayats
  2. Panchayat unions (coterminous with blocks)
  3. District panchayats in this state

Village panchayats (Tamil: ஊராட்சிகள்) form the grass-root level of democracy as they form the local government for the basic building blocks of India - villages. It is set up in villages where the population is more than 300. There are about 12,524 Village panchayats in this state.[14] Gram Sabha is a part of Village panchayat which consists of all residents of village. Village panchayat president himself/herself is an executive authority here. They must meet for minimum of four times a year.[15]

Panchayat Unions (coterminous with blocks) (Tamil: ஊராட்சி ஒன்றியம்) is the group of Village panchayats. They serve as the link between the villages and the district administration. They form the local government at the Taluk level. Tamil Nadu has 388 panchayat unions.[16] Panchayat Union council consists of elected ward members from the villages. It is headed by a panchayat union chairperson, who is elected indirectly by the ward members of the council.

District panchayats in this state (Tamil: மாவட்ட ஊராட்சி ஒன்றியங்கள்) form the cream of the panchayat raj system. They take the top slot with mainly advisory powers to the rest. Developmental administration of the district in rural areas are in its hands. It consists of ward members elected from various villages in its jurisdiction. It is presided by a district panchayat chairperson, who is indirectly elected by its ward members. There are 31 district panchayats in this state except for the district of Chennai as it is an urban district.[17] District collector is the ex-officio chairman of the District rural development agency.

District detailsEdit

Chennai Corporation housed in Ripon Building
Urban Rural
Corporations Municipalities Town panchayats Panchayat unions (blocks) Village panchayats
1 Ariyalur 0 2 2 6 201
2 Chengalpattu 1 NA NA NA NA
3 Chennai 1 0 0 0 0
4 Coimbatore 1 6 52 13 389
5 Cuddalore 1 5 16 13 682
6 Dharmapuri 0 1 10 8 251
7 Dindigul 1 2 24 14 306
8 Erode 1 4 53 14 343
9 Kallakurichi 0 NA NA NA NA
10 Kancheepuram 1 10 24 13 648
11 Kanniyakumari 1 4 56 9 99
12 Karur 1 4 11 8 157
13 Krishnagiri 1 2 7 10 337
14 Madurai 1 6 24 12 431
15 Mayiladuthurai 0 2 4 5 223
16 Nagapattinam 0 2 4 6 211
17 Namakkal 0 5 19 15 331
18 Nilgiris 0 4 11 4 35
19 Perambalur 0 1 4 4 121
20 Pudukkottai 0 2 8 13 498
21 Ramanathapuram 0 4 7 11 443
22 Ranipet 0 NA NA NA NA
23 Salem 1 4 33 20 385
24 Sivagangai 0 3 12 12 445
25 Tenkasi 0 NA NA NA NA
26 Thanjavur 2 2 22 14 589
27 Theni 0 6 22 8 130
28 Thiruvallur 1 5 13 14 539
29 Thiruvannamalai 0 4 10 18 860
30 Thiruvarur 0 4 7 10 430
31 Thoothukudi 1 2 19 12 408
32 Tiruchirappalli 1 3 17 14 408
33 Tirunelveli 1 8 36 19 425
34 Tirupattur 0 NA NA NA NA
35 Tiruppur 1 6 17 13 273
36 Vellore 1 8 22 20 753
37 Villupuram 0 3 15 22 1104
38 Virudhunagar 1 6 9 11 450
Total 38 21

122 529 385 12,524


Elections to the local bodies in Tamil Nadu, held once in five years, are conducted by Tamil Nadu State Election Commission. Both direct and indirect elections apply for local bodies.[18] Direct election posts include:

  • Urban bodies
  1. Corporation Mayor
  2. Municipality/Town Panchayat Chairperson
  3. Corporation/Municipality/Town Panchayat Councillor
  • Rural bodies
  1. Village Panchayat President
  2. District Panchayat councillor
  3. Panchayat Union councillor
  4. Village Panchayat Ward Member

Indirect election posts include (Mayor,Deputy Mayor of corporations)(Chairpersons and vice chairpersons of

Municipalities and Town panchayats, District panchayats and Panchayat union Various statutory/standing committees are also elected by the way of indirect elections.


Local bodies are completely responsible for the developmental administration in the state. Maintenance of clean environment, primary health facilities gain the foremost importance. Apart from them water supply, roads and buildings, storm-water drains, street lighting, solid waste management, sanitation and bus-stands cum commercial complexes etc are the prime duties of the local bodies.[19] Centrally sponsored schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Indira Awaas Yojana (IAY), Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), etc, and State-funded Schemes like Tamil Nadu Village Habitation Improvement Scheme (THAI), Member of Legislative Assembly Constituency Development Scheme (MLACDS), Self-Sufficiency Scheme, Solar-Powered Green-House Scheme are also undertaken by the local bodies.[20] Source of revenue for these local bodies are mainly from centre-state governments. Local bodies also have the power of taxation which include house tax, profession tax, property tax etc. Apart from these they levy fees for specific building plan and layout approvals, water charges, sewerage charges etc.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Local Government". National Portal of India. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  2. ^ Brief Note on Corporation Of Chennai
  3. ^ "The first corporation". The Hindu. 2 April 2003. Archived from the original on 28 January 2004. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Ancient Epigraphical Inscription on elections". Tamil Nadu State Election Commission. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  5. ^ "A Brief History of the Evolution of Panchayats in Tamil Nadu". Tamil Nadu State Election Commission. Archived from the original on 29 October 2011. Retrieved 11 November 2011.
  6. ^ "About Us". Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  7. ^ "Post Independence Method of Election". Tamil Nadu State Election Commission. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  8. ^ "Districts Statistics". Government of Tamil Nadu. Archived from the original on 4 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Presentation on Census" (PDF). Directorate of Census Operations, Tamil Nadu. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 October 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Urban Local Bodies". Commissionerate of Municipal Administration, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  11. ^ "List of Municipalities in Tamil Nadu Gradewise". Commissionerate of Municipal Administration, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  12. ^ "About Us". Directorate of Town Panchayats, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Archived from the original on 22 January 2012. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  13. ^ "List of Town Panchayats" (PDF). Directorate of Town Panchayats, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  14. ^ "List of Village Panchayats in Tamil Nadu" (PDF). Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  15. ^ "Grama Sabha". Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  16. ^ "District Wise Block Maps". Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Archived from the original on 22 November 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  17. ^ "List of District panchayat" (PDF). Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  18. ^ "Conduct of Elections". Tamil Nadu State Election Commission. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  19. ^ "Functions of Panchayats". Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Dept., Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
  20. ^ "About Us". Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu. Retrieved 13 November 2011.

External linksEdit

  • Govt. of Tamil Nadu - official Sste
  • Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu
  • Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department, Govt. of Tamil Nadu