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Govt move to raise number of GMC wards causes concern

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 7 - While the Cabinet decision to increase the number of municipal wards from 31 to 60 is being hailed for paving the way for effective local self-governance, a section of people have also expressed the apprehension that reinstating the old system in its entirety would make the general body of the Corporation incompetent and sluggish.

Social activist Ajoy Dutta, while welcoming the decision to increase the number of wards and including educational qualification of the ward commissioners as a necessary prerequisite for the post, said that for better governance, the number of wards should have been increased up to the number of the present Area Sabhas for a big and expanding city like Guwahati.

It may be noted that presently the entire GMC area is divided into 31 municipal wards, each municipal ward having two, three or four Area Sabhas. Altogether 90 Area Sabhas were constituted in 31 wards at the time of the last Guwahati Municipal Corporation elections in the year 2013.

With the civic body elections approaching, it is running without an elected body. The last general council of the Corporation completed its tenure in July last year.

On the other hand, asking the government to make its stand clear on the structure of the elected body of the Corporation, sources privy to the development said that if the previous system of 60 wards is reinstated under the GMC Act of 1971, it will weaken the general body because of the absence of the Mayor-in-council, with a five-year tenure of the mayor and his council.

�Again, if the Mayor-in-council, which is part of the Nagar Raj Act, has to be made operational, it is not possible without the Area Sabhas. If the Area Sabha system is abolished, the Nagar Raj Act cannot be implemented. Thus, the government must make it clear as to under which system the ward delimitations would be done,� the sources added.

On condition of anonymity, a former councillor of the GMC said that the system of one-year tenure for the mayor is not effective for a city like Guwahati.

�The elected body of the Corporation needs to extract funds for various developmental works. After assuming power, any Mayor needs some time to settle down and understand the way of functioning. When there was a system of one-year tenure for the Mayor, he or she used to get only six to seven months to work. Besides, most of the time is spent on infighting and lobbying for the post of Mayor, which affects the work,� the sources added.

Ajoy Dutta, however, argued that Guwahati has been lagging behind in getting funds from the Union government. �Cities like Howra, Patna and Siliguri get more Central funds compared to Guwahati. Sooner or later, we will have to increase the number of wards to 90 or 100 to extract more developmental fund from the Centre. The succeeding State governments must not make Guwahati a guinea pig of their experimentation. Moreover, to make the local self-government more effective, the role of political parties should be restrained in the civic elections,� he stated.

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Govt move to raise number of GMC wards causes concern

GUWAHATI, Aug 7 - While the Cabinet decision to increase the number of municipal wards from 31 to 60 is being hailed for paving the way for effective local self-governance, a section of people have also expressed the apprehension that reinstating the old system in its entirety would make the general body of the Corporation incompetent and sluggish.

Social activist Ajoy Dutta, while welcoming the decision to increase the number of wards and including educational qualification of the ward commissioners as a necessary prerequisite for the post, said that for better governance, the number of wards should have been increased up to the number of the present Area Sabhas for a big and expanding city like Guwahati.

It may be noted that presently the entire GMC area is divided into 31 municipal wards, each municipal ward having two, three or four Area Sabhas. Altogether 90 Area Sabhas were constituted in 31 wards at the time of the last Guwahati Municipal Corporation elections in the year 2013.

With the civic body elections approaching, it is running without an elected body. The last general council of the Corporation completed its tenure in July last year.

On the other hand, asking the government to make its stand clear on the structure of the elected body of the Corporation, sources privy to the development said that if the previous system of 60 wards is reinstated under the GMC Act of 1971, it will weaken the general body because of the absence of the Mayor-in-council, with a five-year tenure of the mayor and his council.

�Again, if the Mayor-in-council, which is part of the Nagar Raj Act, has to be made operational, it is not possible without the Area Sabhas. If the Area Sabha system is abolished, the Nagar Raj Act cannot be implemented. Thus, the government must make it clear as to under which system the ward delimitations would be done,� the sources added.

On condition of anonymity, a former councillor of the GMC said that the system of one-year tenure for the mayor is not effective for a city like Guwahati.

�The elected body of the Corporation needs to extract funds for various developmental works. After assuming power, any Mayor needs some time to settle down and understand the way of functioning. When there was a system of one-year tenure for the Mayor, he or she used to get only six to seven months to work. Besides, most of the time is spent on infighting and lobbying for the post of Mayor, which affects the work,� the sources added.

Ajoy Dutta, however, argued that Guwahati has been lagging behind in getting funds from the Union government. �Cities like Howra, Patna and Siliguri get more Central funds compared to Guwahati. Sooner or later, we will have to increase the number of wards to 90 or 100 to extract more developmental fund from the Centre. The succeeding State governments must not make Guwahati a guinea pig of their experimentation. Moreover, to make the local self-government more effective, the role of political parties should be restrained in the civic elections,� he stated.