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Maharashtra differs with Central act on reservations for women, weaker sections in cooperatives

Resolves to meet February 15, 2013 deadline to amend state coop laws to align with Central act

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, in a bid to bring in professionalism and transparency, proposes to amend the cooperative law to align it with the 97th by February 15 next year. However, the state government differs with the central act on key issue relating to providing reservation to weaker sections in various cooperative bodies. The 97 Constitution (Amendment) Act has envisaged three posts to be reserved while Maharashtra is keen to retain its present strength of 7 seats reserved for women, other backward classes, economically weaker sections and vimukta jati and notified tribes.

Maharashtra cooperation minister Harshvardhan Patil, who heads a ministers' panel to prepare draft amendments to the state cooperative law, told Business Standard, "The 97th Constitution (Amendment) Act provides reservation for three which comprises two women and one representative from scheduled cast or scheduled tribe. However, in Maharashtra, there are seven seats reserved from various weaker and other backward classes and women representatives. The state government is quite keen to maintain the status quo. The panel had consulted a number of legal experts and it will also seek the opinion of law and judiciary department to provide reservation for seven and not three." Patil was speaking after giving away prizes to best performing cooperative bodies in the state. He hoped that the panel headed by him would complete the draft amendments within a month and submit it to the state cabinet for its approval. "The government will meet the February 15, 2013 deadline to amend state cooperative laws," he added.

Further, the central act envisages election of cooperative bodies to be conducted by state election commission which currently is responsible for election process in local and civic bodies. "On the lines of state election commission, the government may consider similar commission with powers to conduct elections to the cooperative bodies," Patil said.

According to Patil, the government would lay emphasis on training aspect as envisaged in the central act. "Cooperative bodies will have to focus on training of its employees to become more competitive," he noted. The minister informed the government would also put in place a separate audit panel for cooperative bodies from Maharashtra in the proposed amendment.

The minister said that with the proposed amendments to the state cooperative law the federal bodies like Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank, Mahanand, Maharashtra State Cooperative Marketing Federation and Cotton Federation would have to submit their audit reports to the state legislature for its approval.

Patil, who was accompanied by his deputy Prakash Solanke, said there are in all 2.27 lakh cooperative societies in the state with its annual turnover of Rs 4 lakh crore.  Besides, there are 31 district central cooperative banks of which 12 are loss making and eight banks are having networth below Rs 1 lakh and recovery is below 54.24%. Moreover, there are 526 urban cooperative banks in the state.
 

MSCB's CRAR improves to 8%, networth rose to Rs 602.47 cr

Maharashtra State Cooperative Bank (MSCB), which is under administrators' rule since May 2011 after the supersession of its board by RBI for poor financial conditions, has achieved 8% Capital to Risk (Weighted) Assets Ratio as on March 2012 from minus 1.50% as on March 31, 2010. The bank's networth has increased to Rs 602.47 crore from minus Rs 144.42 crore during the same period. MSCB is an anchor bank for providing loan to agriculture, cooperative sector.

MSCB's chief administrator VK Agarwal said bank's the net NPAs are at 1.78% against 7.6% during the same period. He informed that bank's cumulative profit as on date is Rs 15 crore.

Maharashtra's cooperation minister Harshvardhan Patil asked MSCB to concentrate on the recovery of its arrears worth Rs 4,500 crore and reduce its current NPAs of Rs 2,100 crore. On the restoration of elected board of directors of MSCB, Patil said at present the government's priority is to amend state cooperative laws to align them with 97th Constitution (Amendment) Act by February 15, 2013.

The government will consider elected board for MSCB thereafter. One thing is clear the administrator's rule is a temporary phase, Patil noted.

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