- In a decision that will impact 2.5 lakh co-operative societies across Maharashtra, the state cabinet on Wednesday cleared the ordinance to amend the Maharashtra State Co-Operatives Act in line with the 97th constitutional amendment.
The clearance, however, has come with riders. With ministers across the ruling alliance opposing certain provisions of the law, the ordinance proposed by the state co-operative department will have to be diluted to some extent.
The provision to give autonomy to societies to keep their deposits with nationalised or commercial banks led to a big debate. So far, the law permitted the co-operative societies to keep their deposits only with the district and apex co-operative banks. The co-operative banks currently hold deposits to the tune of Rs1 lakh crore. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ministers including home minister RR Patil, rural development minister Jayant Patil, water resources minister (MKVDC) Ramraje Naik Nimbalkar, relief minister Patangrao Kadam said the provision could lead to a collapse of the co-operative system.
“The provision was taken back as there was opposition to it across the board,” said a senior official. “This interpretation of autonomy is by the co-operation department and has not been laid down in the constitutional amendment. We don’t see a reason for bringing about a change that could affect our banks adversely,” said a senior minister.
Co-operative bank board elections are intensely fought and most of the boards are controlled by the NCP and Congress politicians.
The other big concern raised was over the elections to the societies. The issue was sorted as all the ministers agreed that the elections should be held when the tenure of the board ends and not necessarily after the amendment comes into force on February 16. The state government plans to set up a separate co-operative election authority for the elections.
“This will give a leeway to the societies whose boards have been elected recently. All members of the societies that will now go to elections will have voting rights,” said the official.