PCB yet to receive 2011 census report, elections may be delayed

The 2011 census may come to haunt the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) elections. The next elections to all 61 cantonments in the country are due early next year, but the Directorate of Census Operations (DCO), Maharashtra, is yet to send the PCB a published copy of the census for area under its jurisdiction.

While the gazette notification for holding cantonment elections is yet to be issued by the Central government, given that the last elections took place on May 18, 2008, the ideal time for next elections should be May 2013. But the non-availability of a published census report may delay the elections, and also derail the pre-election processes, such as reservation of wards and preparation of final electoral rolls, feel PCB officials. The published census report may take more than six months to come, say census officials.

The cantonment elections are governed by the Cantonment Electoral Rules (CER) 2007. The date for the election is thus declared by the Centre under a gazette notification. According to CER, the SC/ST reservation of wards are done on the basis of the latest census which for the next elections is 2011 census. An official from the DCO office in Mumbai said: "The census reports of those bodies where the population is below 1 lakh have not been published. These reports are being prepared and will be sent to Delhi, which will take another three months. The reports will then be published by the office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India. This is likely to take longer and one cannot mention a specific date." The case is no different with all seven cantonments within Maharashtra.

PCB, a Class I cantonment spread over 2941.19 acres, has eight electoral wards. For the 2008 polls, Ward IV was reserved for SCs as per Special Cantonment Board Resolution. Wards V, VI and II are reserved for women at present. In the next polls, the reservations will be shuffled and the wards currently 'open' will be reserved for women, keeping Ward IV intact for SC/STs.

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