Polls to local bodies not in near future

Chennai: The term of Special Officers of the State local bodies which came to an end 31 December, is likely to be extended by another six months. The announcement is excepted to come up during the ongoing Tamilnadu Assembly session, sources from the Department of Municipal Administration said.

In June 2018, the State Assembly adopted two bills to extend the term of Special Officers for Tamilnadu local bodies (village panchayats, panchayat union councils, district panchayats, town panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations) till 31 December 2018. This was the fourth extension since October 2016 when the Madras High Court cancelled the State Election Commission’s notification for elections to local bodies.

The bills moved by Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani were opposed by DMK, Congress and IUML. Leaders of these parties urged the government to conduct polls to local bodies at the earliest as the absence of elected representatives prevented the usage of Central funds for local bodies development work. However, Velumani argued that polls could not be held as the delimitation of wards was yet to be completed.

Following this, on 26 December, Municipal Administration Minister S P Velumani and Electricity Minister P Thangamani presented a letter to the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to urge the Centre to release Rs 3,776.20 crore pending funds as grants under the 14th Central Finance Commission to carry out day- to-day affairs and provide basic amenities to citizens. They had assured the Defence Minister that ward delimitation and other activities would be over in 45 to 60 days.

Meanwhile, sources in the Municipal Administration Department today said now that the delimitation of wards are complete, elections would be held soon and till then, the term of the Special Officers would be extended by another 6 months. “Right now, allocation of special constituencies for SC/ST and women candidates are going on for local body polls,” sources said.

NT Bureau