Kerala

Delimitation of local body wards may be skipped

Pandemic forces delimitation activities to be stopped

The State government may relinquish its plans for delimiting the local body wards ahead of the elections due in October.

Sources privy to the process told The Hindu that till the outbreak of COVID-19 the preliminary procedures for ward delimitation were progressing in full steam and the State Election Commission and the government were confident of completing the process in time.

Following a spurt in the pandemic cases, local governments became the pivot of virus containment, contact tracing, surveillance of the quarantined and most significantly conduct of the community kitchens in their ambit.

Secretaries of local bodies were tasked to manage almost all such activities and they were forced to shelve the procedures linked to ward delimitation.

The government and the health professionals still remain clueless about when normal life will be restored. Even after easing the lockdown curbs, it may take a month or even more for the administrative machinery to limp back to normalcy.

Five months

Which means the delimitation machinery would become active only by June. The commission needs at least five months for completing the entire delimitation process.

For, it would have to prepare the details of the wards to be delimited, conduct public hearings, sort out complaints and conduct a final revision of voters’ list just before the elections.

All these procedures have to be completed before October. The given circumstances do not instil confidence in either the commission or the government to proceed as scheduled.

Impasse

Most significantly, the newly-elected committees should come into being by November 11, failing which it would lead to a constitutional and administrative impasse.

On failing to conduct the elections in time, the government would have to deploy administrative committees comprising bureaucrats for running the administration.

Such moves would have a deleterious impact on the planning as well as execution of projects initiated by the incumbent committees. Moreover, it would not augur well for a State that holds a trailblazing record in devolving funds and functionaries to the local governments and setting a model in decentralised governance and development.

In this context, one feasible option left before the government is to skip delimitation and conduct the elections on the basis of the existing ward pattern. The onus for a final decision vests with the political leadership, which would take a call soon, sources said.

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Printable version | Jul 15, 2020 6:34:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/delimitation-of-local-body-wards-may-be-skipped/article31368464.ece

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