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Bill reversing MVA govt’s decision to increase municipal wards in Mumbai passed by Maha Council

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Image: Agencies

A bill rescinding the previous Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s decision to increase the number of municipal wards in Mumbai was passed by the Maharashtra Legislative Council on Thursday.

It had been passed in the Assembly a day before.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government had increased the number of wards from 227 to 236 ahead of civic elections.

The Mumbai Municipal Corporation and Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act, 2022, which reverses the decision was passed by the Assembly on Wednesday.

During the debate on the bill in the Council, Deputy Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the previous government decided to increase the number of wards by considering a notional change in the city’s population.

But the notional change was based on the increased population of 2021 for which (census) figures are not available, he said.

In the past, the 2011 census figures had been considered while carrying out delimitation of wards, he said.

The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena and Congress opposed the bill in the Council.

The Congress, notably, had supported the bill in the Assembly.

The Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena opposed the introduction of the bill citing a Supreme Court order.

On Monday, the apex court directed the State Election Commission (SEC) and the Maharashtra government to maintain the status quo with regard to the poll process of local bodies.

Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe said she sought a clarification from the state’s Advocate General. The AG opined that the state legislature was not a party to any case on the issue before the Supreme Court, she said.

The Council also cleared an amendment to the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, to extend the tenures of presidents and vice-presidents of Zilla Parishads and chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of panchayat samitis in some districts.

The bill had been passed in the Assembly earlier.

The Upper House also cleared an amendment to the Act — cleared by the Assembly on Wednesday — which brings down the number of councillors directly elected by the people.

Rural Development Minister Girish Mahajan said the number was being decreased due to rapid urbanisation and the inclusion of several villages in urban areas.

The state government had earlier said that the population in the rural areas was shrinking due to migration to the cities.

The House also passed three resolutions on renaming and naming.

Aurangabad is being renamed as Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar’and Osmanabad asDharashiv’.

The under-construction Navi Mumbai airport is being named ‘Lok Neta D B Patil Navi Mumbai Airport’.

The resolutions, already passed by the assembly, will now be sent to the Centre, Fadnavis said.

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