Hyderabad: Governor ESL Narasimhan rejected the new Municipal Bill, which was passed by the State government in a special session of the Assembly held on June 18-19. He expressed his objections and suggested changes to be made concerning a few provisions in the Municipal Act as they were in violation of the provisions of the Constitution of India.
In the new Act, there is a clause, which gives authority to the District Collectors to remove elected representatives.
He also raised objections that the State government is given the authority to decide the date of the municipal elections, bypassing the State Election Commission authority.
As per the Governor's directions the Telangana Government made the required changes and issued an Ordinance to this effect.
As per the Bill, the State government will have full powers over the Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils, which are considered as local governments, once the new Telangana Municipalities Bill, 2019 is adopted by the Assembly.
The government will wield its control over the Urban Local Bodies through the district collectors.
According to the Bill, the preparation of electoral rolls for and the conduct of elections to all municipalities in the state shall be under the superintendence, direction and control of the State Election Commission.
It further said the schedule for the elections shall be communicated by the state government to the State Election Commission, after having decided the date of notification and the date of conduct of election, including the date of election for the post of chairperson or Mayor and vice-chairman and other such members.
Highlights of the New Municipal Bill
- The new municipal bill which proposes citizen-friendly initiatives such as self-assessment of property tax and tough measures including disqualification of elected members for failure to ensure survival of 85 per cent of plants under the green drive.
- The Telangana Municipalities Bill, 2019 also provides for demolition of unauthorised constructions without notice and building permission through online facility for buildings coming up on an area of upto 500 sq metres with a height of the ceiling at 10 metres.
- "If an unauthorised construction is started, no notice will be given, it will be demolished. It will be an immediate demolition in case of unauthorised construction.
- The bill also provides for self-certification for paying property tax.
- It proposes a penalty of up to 25 times if a landlord is found to have furnished wrong information.
- The veracity of the claims would be checked by flying squads, under the supervision of district collectors.
- The urban poor can construct a house (ground plus one floor) on a small plot without having to apply for permission from the municipality. They would have to pay a house tax of only Rs 100 per annum.
- Such beneficiaries, however, must register with the municipality at a nominal charge of Re 1 in order to get civic facilities, he said.
- According to the bill, one of the responsibilities of the municipal chairperson is to constitute a green cell and earmark 10 per cent of funds in the budget and take up plantation as decided by the district-level committee headed by the district Collector. The chairperson needs to take up plantation in his/her ward and ensure survival of 85 per cent of such plantations, the bill says.
- The municipal ward member or designated special officer can be removed from their posts if they fail to ensure survival of 85 per cent of plantations.
- Explaining that complacency and carelessness have grown among employees as they worked at the same place for years together, a provision has been made for employees to be transferred anywhere. This move is aimed at eliminating corruption and reducing inconvenience to people, he said.
- New door numbers would be given to each and every house which would have a QR code. This would be useful for, among others, in prevention of crimes, he said.
- The number of municipalities and municipal corporations in the state would be 128 and 13 respectively and no other urban local bodies.
The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader M Bhatti Vikramarka, who spoke on the bill, said the spirit of democracy and 'Gram Swarajya' should not be lost with the district Collectors being given powers over elected representatives.