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Posted at: Jun 24, 2019, 7:08 AM; last updated: Jun 24, 2019, 10:43 AM (IST)

Powers vested with executive officers, civic bodies toothless

Lalit Mohan

Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, June 23

Civic bodies in the state are virtually powerless.

Powers of municipal councils have been vested with executive officers whereas the elected presidents have no powers. Presidents of the councils are not even empowered to call meetings of the House.

Amarjot Singh Bedi, president of the Una Municipal Council, said the council did not have a permanent executive officer. However, the power of holding meetings and carrying administrative work was with the executive officer. The working of the MC was paralysed in the absence of a permanent officer. Even the building plans of people were not processed, he said.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that politicians and bureaucrats had been toying with rules to keep their hold on the local bodies. Before 1990, the power of running the administration work was with the elected presidents of the councils. In 1994, the Congress government handed over the powers to the executive officers. In 1998, the first Dhumal government distributed powers between elected presidents and executive officers.

In 2013, the Congress government again snatched their powers and handed these over to the executive officers. The elected representatives alleged that MLAs, senior political leaders and top bureaucrats wanted the powers in the hands of executive officers as they could control them through their postings and transfers.

Most of the municipal councils are also reeling under the acute shortage of staff. About 22 posts are lying vacant in the Una Municipal Council.

In Una, the engineering wing is being run by a junior engineer. Similarly, about 50 posts are lying vacant in the Dharamsala Municipal Corporation. Though the Dharamsala Municipal Council was upgraded to the corporation in 2015, not even a single additional post was given to the corporation. It does not even have a single post of sanitary inspector.

Bedi said the municipal councils were facing multiple problems such as unplanned growth and effective solid waste management. However, most of the bodies did not have adequate staff, powers or budget to tackle these problems.

The Director, Town and Council Planning, Yunus Khan said the government had taken stock of the situation and would take action soon.

Tussle on

  • Before 1990, the power of running the administration work was with the elected presidents of the councils
  • In 1994, the Congress government handed over the powers to the executive officers
  • In 1998, the Dhumal government distributed powers between elected presidents and executive officers
  • In 2013, the Congress govt again snatched their powers and handed these over to the executive officers
  • Elected representatives alleged that MLAs, senior political leaders and top bureaucrats wanted powerful  executive officers as they could easily control them 

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