Govt to proceed with civic polls in GH

SHILLONG: The State Government has decided to go ahead with the groundwork to prepare for the civic polls in the four municipal boards in Garo Hills.

The Government has taken this decision following the High Court directive to complete the election process before September 30.

The Shillong bench of the Gauhati High Court, in response to a petition filed by several candidates from Garo Hills, had recently asked the government to complete the election process by September 30.

“I have approved the proposal to initiate the process for holding of the civic polls in the four municipal boards in Garo Hills,” Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh told The Shillong Times after her meeting with the senior government officials here on Wednesday.

She said that this decision was taken after considerable deliberations on this issue in its entirety.

“We have to uphold the direction of the court,” Ampareen said.

The Urban Affairs Minister however informed that the preparation of the draft electoral rolls would immediately start.

“The date for holding of civic poll would be notified as soon as the preparation of the draft electoral rolls is completed,” She said.

“There is a need to put in place some form of urban governance. This directive of the court has paved the way for the Government to put in place a system which would look after urban civic governance,” Ampareen said.

She does not think that any kind of dialogue could be initiated since the Joint Action Committee (JAC) a conglomeration of NGOs in Garo Hills had already approached the court in this matter.

With the petition of the JAC still pending with the court, the Urban Affairs Minister said the Government would have to abide by the latest court ruling.

“The Government cannot overlook the latest court directive since it would tantamount to contempt of court,” she said.

Ampareen however observed that since the JAC has gone to the court, she expects them to respect the court ruling.

“I hope the JAC would not go to the streets since they have sought redressal from the court opposing holding of the civic polls,” the Urban Affairs Minister said while suggesting that the JAC should wait for the court to hear their grievances.

However, she also feels that no one has the right to suppress the feelings of others.

“I believe there could be mixed feelings on this whole matter. There could be many who want to have better urban governance” Ampareen added.

While the traditional institutions and the NGOs from Garo Hills had opposed election of ward commissioners to the municipal boards in Williamnagar and Resulbelpara in East Garo Hills, Tura in West Garo Hills and Baghmara in South Garo Hills, the All Garo Hills Civic Poll Candidates Forum had been demanding early elections.

The elections were opposed because formation of municipal bodies would erode the powers of the traditional bodies, which had existed in the State from time immemorial.

The State Government had to suspend the election on October 29 last year in Garo hills after the law and order situation deteriorated, with a large number of people, including women and youths, gheraoing various polling booths in parts of Garo Hills and stopping poll personnel from conducting the polls.

Later, however, the candidates’ forum had filed a case against the government for not holding the polls.

Judge BK Sharma, in his May 31 order, passed in response to the petition filed by the candidates’ forum, had asked the urban affairs department to speed up the formalities so that the election was held within September without further delay.

The judge had also asked the State Government to avoid nomination of members to the municipal boards in Garo Hills. Earlier the Government had been contemplating nominations to the wards as it was unable to hold the elections.

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