Published On : Thu, Aug 4th, 2022

Shinde Cabinet scraps MVA Govt’s decision to increase number of seats in all civic bodies

Now, fresh lotteries will be drawn to finalise the wards for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Communities and women

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Nagpur/Mumbai: The two member Cabinet of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis Government reversed the Maha Vikas Aghadi’s Government decision of increasing the number of seats in all civic bodies and redrawing of ward boundaries. Reports said the ward boundaries will revert to the 2017 format, but fresh lotteries will be drawn to finalise the wards for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Communities and women.

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The decision on Wednesday to restructure the number of civic wards on the basis of population has set off a debate among civic poll aspirants and civic observers over a likely reduction in the number of elected members of local bodies.

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As per the decision, a municipal corporation with more than 30 lakh population will have a minimum of 161 and a maximum of 175 elected members. A provision for one additional elected member for every one lakh population above the 30 lakh figure has been made, the decision states.

In Mumbai, the number of corporators in the BMC will remain at 227 for the forthcoming civic elections. The MVA government had increased it to 236. But at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Shinde, who toppled the Thackeray government in June by rebelling against Thackeray, rolled back the decision. The BMC, thus, will have 227 wards as before.

A proposal placed before the two-member cabinet of the Eknath Shinde-Devendra Fadnavis Government said that in the absence of a fresh population census, it’s not appropriate to increase the number of councillor/corporator seats in local bodies. The 2021 census did not happen on account of the Covid pandemic and there is no clarity on when it will be conducted.

The number of wards for the 2017 elections were based on the 2011 census. When the MVA government had increased the number of seats for the local bodies, the law and judiciary department had objected to the increase on the same grounds – that no census had been conducted.

Congress leader Milind Deora welcomed the decision, saying it was a big victory for his party and the people of Mumbai. “The Maharashtra Government has nullified the brazenly undemocratic ward-wise delimitation orchestrated by Shiv Sena. It was an insult to MVA’s coalition dharma as well as to ordinary Mumbaikars,” the former MP tweeted. Last month he had written to chief minister Shinde, seeking scrapping of the new ward system.

The statement from the Chief Minister’s Office, meanwhile, also said that the number of corporators in other 26 municipal corporations in the state will be revised in proportion to population. The minimum number of seats in a civic body with a population of three lakh to six lakh will be 65 and maximum number will be 85, it said. There will be an additional member/corporator for every 15,000 people in these cities.

Civic bodies with a population between six lakh to 12 lakh will have minimum 85 seats and maximum 115 seats. For every 20,000 voters, there will be one additional member. For civic bodies with more than 12 lakh population, for every 40,000 people there will be an additional member. In cities with a population of more than 24 lakh, there will be an additional member for every 50,000 people.

In civic bodies with a population of more than 30 lakh, there will be additional members for every one lakh people. The civic bodies with population between 12 lakh to 24 lakh will have 115 to 151 seats, while those with population of more than 24 lakh and up to 30 lakh will have minimum 151 and maximum 161 members. Civic bodies with more than 30 lakh population will have minimum 161 and maximum 175 seats.

The Cabinet — currently comprising only Shinde and his deputy Devendra Fadnavis — on Wednesday also decided to amend the Maharashtra Zilla Parishad Act, 1961. As per the amendment, Zilla Parishads will have minimum 50 and maximum 75 seats. At present, ZPs can have between 55 to 85 seats. The decision was taken considering declining population in rural areas, the official release said.

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