Delimitation of wards for civic body polls begins; opposition objects to process
There are total 13 municipal corporations in the state and elections in four: Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ludhiana are not scheduled as their general Houses have not completed five-year tenureUpdated: Aug 10, 2020 22:05 IST
Chandigarh The Punjab local bodies department has started the exercise of delimitation of wards in at least 50 civic bodies, including seven municipal corporations. Amid the covid-19 pandemic, the state government was reluctant to hold the polls. Finally, October was chosen as there was no alternative, with the law dictating that the civic body polls be held within six months of the expiry of the term of the elected body.
The opposition parties, particularly the SAD-BJP alliance, have objected to the delimitation process. “I have got to know that the state local bodies department has disturbed limits of all wards without a justified reason, as neither the population has increased nor the civic body has expanded limits. We are waiting the final draft, on the basis of which, we may take legal recourse,” said Kulwant Singh, a former mayor of Mohali.
Sources in the department added that polls might be pushed back, with delimitation work of 20 civic bodies still pending.
Of 167 civic bodies, 129 are scheduled to go for polls, the list of which has nine municipal corporations: Mohali, Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Moga and Phagwara. The other three are Abohar, Kapurthala and Batala, which recently has been elevated to corporation level from municipal councils. There are total 13 municipal corporations in the state and elections in four: Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala and Ludhiana are not scheduled as their general Houses have not completed the five-year tenure.
Balwant Rai, former Bathinda mayor, who represented the SAD-BJP, objected to delimitation alleging that the ruling party has favoured its own party men.
“We are ready. It is just a matter of time when we would complete delimitation,” said local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra, clarifying that the outer boundaries of the civic bodies cannot be altered, but boundaries of the wards are changed as population imbalance is reported after five years.
HOW DELIMITATION IS DONE?
Any resident or the elected representative of a ward can report population imbalance and seek delimitation. The proposal received by the local bodies department is referred to a delimitation board of the particular civic body. This board comprises sub-divisional magistrate, executive officer, commissioner – the executive head of the civic body, deputy director and director of the department along with two private members from the ward.
Then, a week is given for objections. After clearing objections, the matter is referred to the secretary of the department for final nod. Finally, notification is done to seal boundaries and population of the ward.
The department decides the ward numbers. Of these, some are reserved for females and SC contenders. In 2017, after assuming power, the Congress government had announced giving 50% reservation to women. To ensure this, all even wards in all civic bodies have been allotted to them.
CENSUS OF INDIA POSTPONES FREEZE ORDERS
The Census of India that functions under the Union ministry of home affairs, which had earlier asked the states to freeze the boundaries of wards, constituencies etc by Dec 31, 2019, owing to the covid-19 pandemic lockdown has postponed the freeze orders to December 31, 2020, via a communication dated July 28.