Tuesday, June 13, 2017

State gets 3 weeks to decide on villages merger


PUNE: The Mumbai High Court directed the state government to take a final decision on merger of 34 villages in the limits of Pune Municipal Corporation within three weeks.

Haveli Taluka Nagari Kruti Samiti, a citizens' group, had filed a petition in 2014 in the HC seeking to expedite the merger process. The HC had in May asked the state government to make its stand clear on the issue by June 12. "The Pune Municipal "The Pune Municipal Corporation and the state, during the hearing, sought more time saying that a report regarding the merger being prepared by a committee appointed by the state was awaited. But the lawyers representing the villages pointed out that several extensions had been given in the past. Moreover, gram panchayat elections in 19 villages too were cancelled,"said Shrirang Chavan of the Samiti.

The court has now given a directive to speed up the matter and a decision has to be taken accordingly, he added. Pune Municipal Corpo ration lawyer Abhijit Kulkarni said, "The court has said that it cannot take a decision regarding the merger. It is a legislative, political and administrative decision, but as a notification has been issued, the process has to be completed and the state should decide on it." The PMC also informed the court about the funds' crunch it would face in carrying out development works in the merged villages.

Once the merger plan is approved as per the notification, the PMC will become the largest municipal corporation in the state. Its geographical area would increase from the existing 243.84 sq.km. to over 500 sq. Km. -more than the size of the largest civic body of the state, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, covering an area of 480.24 sq.km.

Villagers have urged the state government to decide on the merger issue at the earliest. Pointing out that the merger notification was issued in May 2014, they said it's been three years and the actual merger is yet to take place.

Abhinandan Vagyani, the lawyer who represented the state government, said that merger process was a complex issues as many factors had to be considered."The villages which are to be merged have large agriculture tracts. The fate of the same has to be decided. Even the Pune Metropolitan Development Authority's work area will be affected as several villages are under its jurisdiction. These and other issues are taking time to be sorted out. Therefore, the overall merger process has become a time-consuming issue," he added.

Activists in the past have pointed out how villagers of these villages had to struggle for basic facilities. Issues such as poor water supply and inefficient garbage disposal have made daily life in these villages difficult. The villagers are not even able to get educational and medical facilities.

Experts and planners, however, have a different view. They have objected to the move saying that the merger apart from placing an additional burden on the municipal corporation, will not serve any purpose.


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