Bill to be introduced in budget session of legislature on March 14
Maharashtra is planning to give women 50 per cent reservation in local bodies, and a bill to this effect will be introduced in the coming budget session of the legislature on March 14, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said on Tuesday.
In an informal interaction with women journalists on International Women's Day, Mr. Chavan said he had piloted a bill in the Rajya Sabha to provide for 33 per cent reservation for women in State Assemblies and Parliament, but the Lok Sabha was yet to pass it. The Centre supported 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies and Maharashtra too would endorse that demand.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has already proposed a 50 per cent quota for women in the local bodies' elections.
Backing the Jaitapur nuclear power project, Mr. Chavan said the process to set up the project was transparent and it would bring Rs. 1 lakh-crore investment into the Konkan region. He held the Jaitapur project as an example of transparency and reiterated that people were being deliberately misled by political elements. He said the project was legal and that a mandatory public hearing had also been conducted. Stating that he had invited the project-affected people for a hearing, which they boycotted, he said they were prevented by political interests. On the question of a European visiting Jaitapur, Mr. Chavan said he had heard that a Finnish person from Greenpeace was showing films of thousands of people dying in an earthquake in Jaitapur.
Mr. Chavan said Konkan had a history of protests. While agreeing that the Enron contract was not transparent, he said now that the project was revived, no one was complaining about its environmental impacts on mangoes and cashews. Last week, after a meeting with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, Mr. Chavan agreed to look into the cases filed against activists. However, when questioned about this, Mr. Chavan said the locals should be allowed to handle these matters.
Mr. Chavan said there was a scare that Gujarat would overtake Maharashtra in investments. He said Gujarat was ruled by a single party and the difficulties of a coalition coming to power had been expressed even by the Prime Minister. However, the implementation of MoUs was poor in Gujarat, he said.
Mr. Chavan clarified that Maharashtra had certain natural advantages in terms of skills, and he was keen on pushing the State to a position of pre-eminence. However, the State had to tackle issues of land acquisition and low human development index in certain areas. Even the irrigation backlog was huge and to complete the projects already under way Rs. 77,000 crore would be needed over the next 10 years. In future it would be difficult to build big irrigation projects and the focus would have to shift to smaller ones. He added that the annual budget for irrigation in the State was around Rs. 7,000 crore and it was important to conduct a detailed analysis of the pending projects in terms of their potential and stage of completion to prioritise funds, instead of falling prey to political compulsions.
He was happy that Finance Minister Ajit Pawar agreed with him on the issue.