SMC staff threatens strike, demand ‘decentralization’
MAYOR CALLS ON DY CM, PROPOSES ‘INTERIM SOLUTION’
Srinagar, Nov 18: With the Srinagar Municipal Corporation employees threatening an indefinite strike” from next week, the City Mayor, Salman Ali Sagar, on Wednesday called on the Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, proposing a solution to the deadlock over “decentralization of the administration” pending for the past four years.
Salman is learnt to have proposed to the Dy CM, who is also the Minister for Housing and Urban Development Department, that the SMC be allowed to go for “zoning” by setting up of the Zone offices, irrespective of time it would take to get the financial implications cleared.
As per the Municipal Corporation Act 2000, apart from other issues like the devolution of power, the corporation was to be “decentralized” into four zones –North, South, East and West –each to be headed by Assistant Commissioner at the Zone office.
But since the law became “fully applicable” after 2005 SMC elections, the zoning is awaited as the Assistant Commissioners haven’t been appointed.
The zoning, as per the law, was aimed for better management of the administrative affairs.
“With the creation of zones, the SMC would be more accountable for its work as all the four areas would have separate administration each headed by the Assistant Commissioner. And this way, people would visit the SMC zone offices for various works rather than coming to the corporation headquarters at Karan Nagar,” explained a senior SMC official.
NEED OF THE HOUR
Observers said presently the corporation was facing problems as all the public rush was to be managed by the central office alone.
Given the expansion of the City from the then 206 Sq KM to 300 Sq Km and growing area, the implementation of 2000 Act, by virtue of decentralization was aimed at “proper management”, observers said.
The SMC officials said Srinagar for now houses some 1.5 million populace, including the “floating population” of non-locals adding that it was “virtually impossible” for the central office to manage the City affairs single-handed.
THE EMPLOYEES STAND
The SMC, which manages the civic affairs including the sanitation, building permissions and management of public facilities, has some 5000 employees on rolls.
The Municipal Corporation Employees Union, President, Haji Bashir said the delay in the decentralization had badly affected the corporation work.
“We are being accused of failing to provide better civic amenities and Khilafwarzi (illegal constructions) has also become a menace,” Bashir told Greater Kashmir.
He said the only thing successive regimes did for the SMC in the past five years was appointment of the Commissioner and holding of SMC elections.
“Since then only the post of Commissioner was created. The sub-ordinate hierarchy is the same,” Bashir added.
Bashir said he Wednesday morning again called on the Dy CM and gave them the Monday ultimatum for the “decentralization”.
“We have waited enough for five years. Now we will go on strike, direct agitation should they fail to meet our demands,” Bashir said.
The Mayor along with a team of senior SMC officials including Commissioner Tufail Matto called the Dy CM with the proposal.
“We told them (government) that let the zoning be allowed along with the deployment of the staff till the financial implications, which were a hindrance in the way, get a nod from the Finance department,” an SMC spokesman said.
When contacted the Mayor confirmed meeting the Minister.
Salman, however, declined to give details.
To a question, he said: “Our basic aim is to smoothly run the SMC so that the people don’t suffer.”
Sources said the Dy CM assured the SMC delegation that the matter would be discussed threadbare on Monday for a solution to the problem.
Ironically, the even though the four year term of the elected corporators headed by Mayor is scheduled to end in March 2010, the SMC is yet to be empowered by way of “devolution of power” as has been mentioned in the Municipal Corporation Act 2000.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Nov 2009 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Nov 2009 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Nov 2009 00:00:00 IST
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