No sign of NGO members on ward committees yet

Delay of 6 months and counting...<./i>

More than six months after municipal elections, councillors are yet to nominate NGO members on ward committees.

"The matter is in court. Once there is a verdict, the members should be appointed," said Mayor Sunil Prabhu.

There are 16 committees for 24 administrative wards and 227 electoral wards. Three NGOs are appointed on every ward committee, also comprising local corporators and ward officers. The civic body gives each ward committee Rs 1 crore for development of infrastructure.

A PIL filed by Rashtriya Apang Vikas Mahasang in Bombay High Court earlier this year, demanding reservation for NGOs representing people with disabilities, delayed the nominations until last month.

HC disposed of the plea on August 28 saying according to UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (signed and ratified by India), the differently-abled must be included. But it noted they did not have an "enforceable right" in the absence of a law to this effect.

High Court directed the municipal commissioner to circulate a copy of the convention among corporators, so that NGO nominations are made bearing it in mind.

Delay in framing a law that will permit civic officials to scrutinise nominated NGOs may cause further delay.

Till last year, municipal councillors alone were responsible for nominating NGOs on ward committees. However, the state sought to amend this practice this year.

"Till last year, politicians misused the practice to nominate associates on ward committees. The ward officer did not have powers to scrutinise NGO applications. Several nominated members of political parties thus became a part of ward committees," alleged RTI activist Anil Galgali, who pursued the amendment with the state government since 2010.

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