Mayor threatens dharna over move to frame new municipal law

DEHRA DUN AUG. 26 .The Mayor of Dehra Dun, Manorma Sharma Dobriyal, has threatened to stage a dharna before the office of the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, if the Uttaranchal Government does not stop attempts to frame a municipal law aimed at usurping all powers of civic bodies and immediately frames a law that has the essence of panchayati raj as visualised by Rajiv Gandhi.

Addressing a press conference here today, Ms Dobriyal, who is also the State Mahila Congress president, lashed out at "jungle raj" of the Government of her own party.

No elected municipal member or woman finds a place in the 15-member committee headed by the Minister for Urban Development and Forests, Nav Prabhat, to frame the new law. Surprisingly it has the Income Tax Commissioner and a representative of a US funding agency. "Why?" asked Ms Dobriyal.

The draft law prepared by this committee aims at vesting most of the financial and administrative powers of these bodies with the Government. Worse, it suggests election of the Mayor or Chairmen of municipal bodies by the elected members instead of the present system of the public electing the person of its choice to this post. "This is not acceptable. The public has a right to elect its own mayor or municipal chairman. Also the indirect election to these posts would mean persons with money and muscle power grabbing the top civic posts," Ms Dobriyal said.

Ms Dobriyal wondered whether Mr Prabhat had accepted the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Jayalallitha, as his model instead of Ms Gandhi by accepting the Tamil Nadu Municipal Law as the best which could be suitably amended and enforced in Uttaranchal. "The Congress-ruled States have excellent municipal laws aimed at fulfilling the dreams of Rajiv Gandhi regarding devolution of powers at the grassroots level. Uttaranchal should rely on these for framing it's own law," Ms Dobriyal said, hoping that the Chief Minister, Narayan Dutt Tiwari, would intervene before it was too late.

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