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TN adopts bills extending tenure of local body officers again


Press Trust of India Chennai
The Tamil Nadu Assembly today adopted two bills amending local body laws extending the term of office of special officers of civic bodies by another six months amid opposition by DMK, and allies which demanded immediate conduct of polls.
The adopted bills extend the term of office of special officers upto 31 December 2018 or until the first meeting of the local bodies after elections, whichever was earlier.
"After the completion of the delimitation process, the State Election Commission will be in a position to notify elections to the urban and rural local bodies," the Bills outlining the reasons for extension of terms of office said.
It may be recalled that a delimitation commission was set up in August 2017 to demarcate the boundaries of wards in local bodies after a Bill was adopted in July last in the Assembly.
Election to local bodies were "delayed due to various litigations," and also due to the process of delimitation of territorial wards of local bodies being undertaken by the Delimitation Commission based on 2011 Census, it said.
When Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani, sought leave of the chair to move the Bills, DMK's Ma Subramanian, V Meiyanathan, Congress's K R Ramasamy, J G Prince and IUML's lone member K A M Muhammad Abubacker spoke opposing the move.
Subramanian, a former Chennai city mayor demanded holding local body polls expeditiously and alleged that delimitation of territorial wards was an excuse.
He said people and implementation of civic work were affected in the absence of elected representatives at local bodies.
"People are addressing local issues to the MLA instead of municipal councillors," he said adding civic issues including drinking water supply were being faced by the people.
Subramanian wondered as to how a special officer could tackle a host of civic issues which were usually dealt by an elected municipal council and its administrative units. Other MLAs too backed his demand for immediate polls.
Municipal Administration Minister Velumani denied slow down in special officers' implementing civic work.
Though the government had toed norms (for holding civic polls) followed in years such as 1996 when the DMK was in power, the main opposition party approached the court, he said.
"The government is ready to hold civic polls," he said adding, however, delimitation of territorial wards were being undertaken and the matter was pending in the Supreme Court.
To this, Subramanian said it was a fact that his party had approached the court, which was, however, was only for holding the elections properly.
It may be recalled that when the SEC notified local body polls in September 2016 to hold the polls in two phases on October 17 and 19 that year, the DMK approached the Madras High Court.
It had contended then that the notification for the polls was done in a rush.
The DMK had wanted conduct of polls by providing adequate reservation to Scheduled Tribes, necessary rotation of seats in all the posts, as mandated by the Constitution.
The civic poll issue finally reached the doors of the Supreme Court where it is now pending.
Extensions were being provided for the special officers (ever since holding civic polls reached the court in 2016) by adoption of amendment Bills in the Assembly.

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First Published: Jun 28 2018 | 7:25 PM IST

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