It’s official! NMC election to be of one-member ward system

Nagpur: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation elections for 2022 will be of one-member ward system as State Election Commission (SEC) has reverted to one-member ward system in Municipal Council and Nagar Panchayats that would go to polls between December 2021 and February 2022.

At present, one ward comprises of four corporators. State election commission announced process of delimitation.

It is pertinent to mention that the last elections about five years back were held on multi-members ward system as per decision by the then Government. However, Mahavikas Aghadi Government (MVA) had introduced an amendment dated March 12, 2020, Municipal Council/Nagar Panchayati and Industrial Cities (Amendment) Rules, 2020, through which all multi-member ward system would make way for single member Prabhag.

SECR said with short time at disposal and vast work ahead for completion of reshuffling of wards, draw of reservations and other related election work, the field machinery is advised to start ground regarding demarcation, drawing of boundaries, preparation of Prabhag maps, updation of rolls by August 23 onwards.

This would ensure that there is no delay in completion of the election related work. The SEC note mentioned that as per Article 243 of Indian Constitution and Sec. 41 (1) of Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayati va Industrial Cities Rules, 1965, mandates holding of elections to Municipal Councils before expiry of their term. Since Census of 2021 could not be held due to COVID-19 pandemic, the electoral rolls would be updated as per 2011 Census figures and hence number of wards are unlikely to undergo any change.

Nagpur Division has 14 Municipal Councils and 6 Nagar Parishads while Amravati Division has 10 Councils and 4 Panchayats.

The notification from SEC is timely as it ends suspense about the ward system as it would help administration put the ball rolling on updation of rolls and other associated work. As political circles were debating whether the polls would be held on two members per ward or switch back to then prevailing one member ward system, all eyes were fixed towards Commission.

The updation of rolls and preparing preliminary ward system is a time consuming process and thus clarity on single member would help in finalising the programme. Post drawing-up of wards and its notification, political parties can file objections based on which the process can be rectified if necessary depending upon upholding of objections by the SEC.

One more angle to formation of ward is earmarking of reservations and SEC referred to directives of Supreme Court in writ petition that was decided on March 4, 2021, regarding OBC reservation. In that light, after carefully going through the operative part of order, the Commission said it will issue separate directions on earmarking of seats and drawing of reservations. SEC itself holds draw of lots to determine process of reservation of seats in local bodies.

SEC in its communication to Collectors asked them to take into account changes in existing wards (by addition or deletion) from last election notification, due to various development works that may have altered geographical boundaries due to construction of a bridge, new roads, buildings while finalising the wards and then publish the draft. At the same time, SEC has desired total confidentiality while communication the draft of wards to minimise litigations that results in unnecessary delay. Avinash Sanas, Deputy Commissioner, SEC, said in past due to leaking of information about new Prabhag, the Commission had to deal with legal battles that was quite time consuming.

While SEC will provide approval to draft plan after draw of reservations in A grade Municipal Councils; District Collectors are empowered to grant sanction to drafts of B grade Councils and to B and C grade Nagar Pancahayats Collector’s approval would be final sanction.