After much suspense, the government ordered that the GHMC will have a 15-member standing committee with the Mayor as Chairperson here on Wednesday. It means that there will be a ward chairperson for every 10 divisions as was the norm in the erstwhile MCH.
However, the catch is the proposed 15 standing committee members will be elected by all the 150 corporators through a secret ballot. Earlier, respective ward chairpersons elected from among the 10 divisions each automatically became the committee members. Election notification for the panel is about to be issued soon and the interest now is whether the main Opposition party, the Telugu Desam, will get any representation in it. Otherwise, with the Congress-Majlis combine having a cool majority in the Council, there is little chance of any other party corporator getting elected (Congress:52, TD:45, MIM:43, BJP:5, PR & MBT: 1 and others:3).
Moves are afoot to consider giving at least two seats in the committee to ensure that the Opposition has a voice and also to ensure general council proceedings go on smoothly. If the Commissioner has powers to sanction works upto Rs. 20 lakh, standing committee has powers to propose works worth Rs. 50 lakh. Anything above the Rs. 50, lakh budget can recommend to the government through the general council. Also, the panel holding office for a year decides the agenda for the council meetings.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner has extended the last date for receipt of applications from representatives of the civil societies or prominent citizens to become members of the ward committees till April 6. There could be 1,475 such members. Ten members of a ward can become members and if the ward population is more than 10,000, there will be an additional member for every 4,000 population.
Fifty per cent of the members have to be women and civil society members can be president/secretary from registered residents' welfare associations, member of tax payers association, office-bearer of slum or senior member of a self-help group, member of a non-governmental organisation, chamber of commerce, medical council or any prominent citizen. A special meeting of council will choose from among the eligible applicants by a voice vote. Ward committee too will hold office for a year and its meetings will be open to public and decisions will be taken by a majority vote.