The corporation has unanimously rejected the merger of 36 panchayats into GHMC. The Mayor has asked the Commissioner not to take up developmental activities in the panchayats using the budget allocated for the corporation
The gram panchayats were merged into the GHMC in three installments on August 31 – 15 gram panchayats were included, September 3- 6 gram panchayats and September 5- 15 gram panchayats. A total of 36 panchayats were to be merged into the GHMC
- Government should spell out what it wants to do in the extended areas
- Panchayats basically agrarian societies
- GHMC has failed with regard to Town Planning in Hyderabad
The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), at its 12th ordinary meeting held here on Monday, unanimously rejected the proposal for the merger of 36 gram panchayats into the GHMC, following vociferous opposition from almost all corporators. The meeting, held in the GHMC’s main office at Lower Tank Bund, was chaired by Mayor Mohammed Majid Hussain. The meeting saw thick attendance of the corporators and councilors who function within the GHMC’s jurisdiction.
Keeping aside the items on the agenda, the corporators and councilors gave vent to their displeasure over the recent merger of 36 gram panchayats into the GHMC. Ultimately the Mayor gave into the corporators’ demands and said: “For the council, it is pertinent that the state government should spell out what it wants to do in the extended areas. The expansion of GHMC limits could only add to the tax burden on the residents without equivalent reciprocation by the GHMC and other civic bodies.”
During the meeting, the corporators pointed out to the Mayor that the GHMC would face complex situations in handling the merged villages, apart from the areas already under its wing. The merger would bring further pressure on the corporation to provide infrastructure. After the resolution was passed, the Mayor instructed M T Krishna Babu, Commissioner, GHMC, not to take up any developmental works in the merged areas using the corporation’s budgetary allocation until there is some clarity in the release of funds on paper.
Earlier, there was some turbulence as some of the corporators staged a sit-in and were persistent in making their points clear. The meeting itself started off an hour late. As soon as the proceedings began, Singi Reddy, TDP, floor Leader, occupied the centre-stage. He emphasized the ill-effects of the merger, saying “We cannot merge (the panchayats) without proper planning. The GHMC has already failed in town planning for the city of Hyderabad. How can they administrate the new territory? There are a lot of issues that have yet to be resolved within the GHMC’s current jurisdiction itself, like roads, water bodies and issuing birth and death certificates on time. All these gram panchayats will have a tough time coping with the GHMC’s norms. There must be a step-by-step method to introduce them to the corporation. They must be introduced initially as Grade-1, 2 and 3 municipalities; only then can they be merged with the GHMC. Do not merge them directly.”
He added that the panchayats were basically agrarian societies. If they came under the GHMC limits, the agricultural land would be converted to commercial land. The floor leader shed light on the difficulties that the GHMC could face in administering all the areas. He said, “The current 620-odd km of Hyderabad is going through tough times; if all these areas come under it, the area under GHMC limits would become 1,000-plus kilometres. If the merger happens, the authorities will have to buy helicopters just to keep tabs on their areas.” Diddi Rambabu, floor leader,Congress, concurred with the previous speaker and added that, the gram panchayats cannot pay the taxes that would be imposed by the GHMC. He said that no suggestions were sought on the merger from the general public.
Amidst the discussions four BJP corporators staged a sit-in and demanded that the Mayor should resign. The Mayor requested them to either sit down or continue with their protests outside the meeting hall, as their behaviour was disrupting the proceedings. Eventually they were carried out by the marshals and later taken into police custody. It was later confirmed that they have been suspended from duty.
During the tussle over merger, Jaffer, corporator, MIM, pointed out a discrepancy. He said, “The Commissioner says that there are 35 gram panchayats and the G O mentions 36 panchayats. Where is the lost one?”
Later, Nazeeruddin , corporator, MIM, said, “ The budget is allocated district-wise. Most of the houses in these panchayats don’t even have a house number. For them, development has to start from the grassroots level. They do not have more than six hours of electricity, and that too at very low voltages. The public is already laughing at us. We need to think before taking such a huge step.” He also stated that, when the GHMC can’t take care of its own child, is it justified to adopt more children?
All the corporators who spoke had one underlying question in their orations: Why was this move taken all of a sudden without giving the general public a say in it?