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Local body expansion: BJP will ask Uttarakhand government to ‘reconsider’ decision in areas of intense protests

Amid growing unrest over expansion of urban local bodies in Uttarakhand, BJP said that it will ask the state government to ‘reconsider’ its decision in areas where the protests were intense

dehradun Updated: Dec 03, 2017 19:23 IST
Neha Pant
Neha Pant
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand news,urban local bodies,Dehradun Municipal Corporation
Representatives of 60 villages under the banner of “Save Village Committee” protesting in front of the Dehradun Municipal Corporation against the proposed inclusion of the villages within the city civic body.(HT File Photo. )

Amid growing unrest over expansion of urban local bodies (ULBs) in Uttarakhand, BJP said that it will ask the state government to ‘reconsider’ its decision in areas where the protests were intense. The BJP-led state government had given a go-ahead for merger of several rural body areas with the adjoining ULBs earlier this year.

“We will ask the government to reconsider its decision in areas where there is excessive protest from the public,” said BJP state president Ajay Bhatt. He, however, added that at most places, the protests were “politically motivated” by local elected representatives who feared losing their seats in polls. “We will identify areas where protests are being carried out based on genuine concerns by the locals,” he said.

Civic polls are set to be held in Uttarakhand in April next year.

The government, however, doesn’t appear to be on the same page as that of the party on this front.

Urban development minister Madan Kaushik said that the process of bringing about changes in local body areas had been rolled out only after following the due procedure.

“We have given a green signal for changes in ULB areas but only after following the due norms. Proposals (for expansion of areas) were sought through the respective district magistrates and objections on the proposals were called and duly disposed of, so there’s no question of going back on this,” said Kaushik.

Uttarakhand Congress, meanwhile, has announced to launch a massive stir against what it calls the BJP government’s “irrational move” to expand ULBs, which was first given the cabinet’s nod in September this year.

Congress workers will stage protests at all the 13 district headquarters on December 7, the day when the state assembly’s winter session will begin at Gairsain in Chamoli district. Former minister Mantri Prasad Naithani has even threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike if the BJP government doesn’t change its mind on the issue.

“This expansion of ULBs will not only threaten the existence of panchayati bodies in the areas concerned, but will also make the agricultural land in rural belts adjoining towns vulnerable (to encroachment and blatant constructions). Neither the locals and the three-tier panchayati body leaders were taken into confidence before initiating such a move,” said Naithani, pointing out how, till now, civic facilities had failed to improve in those rural areas that were included in the ULBs in the past.

It may be recalled that the state government has carried out expansion of around 42 ULBs by merging nearby villages into their municipal limits, triggering angry protests in many parts of the state, primarily because the five-year tenure of all panchayati raj institutions of Uttarakhand (except in Haridwar district) is scheduled to end in 2019.

In Dehradun alone, representatives of 60 villages that were proposed to be included in the Dehradun municipal corporation had come together to form a ‘save village committee’ in June and protested for days against their proposed inclusion in the Doon civic body.

First Published: Dec 03, 2017 19:23 IST