Municipal elections will, in all likelihood, be held in the state in January or February next.
The state government has already made plans to this effect. During the Assembly session, which is commencing on Monday, floor leaders of all opposition parties will be consulted to elicit their opinion on conducting elections to the civic bodies which have been without elected representatives for more than a year.
Speaking to Express, minister for municipal administration and urban development M.Mahidhar Reddy said the government was prepared to hold elections to municipal councils and corporations in the next four months on the basis of the 2001 census since the latest census data would take more time to get published. ‘’The affidavit to be filed in the court seeking a go-ahead for conduct of the elections is ready. But we want to take a final decision only after consulting the opposition parties,’’ he said.
If the government faces opposition to conduct of election, it has an alternative. It could conduct the elections after publication of the 2011 census data which might take about seven months and preparations for three to four months thereafter, which will be nine to ten months from now. That means the government can conduct the elections during January-February basing on the 2001 census data or during June-July if the 2011 census data should be the basis.
The state government had been thinking of conducting civic polls for a long time as it realised that the delay was depriving the civic bodies of central funds. Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy held a meeting with his cabinet colleagues in April and decided to seek a legal opinion from the advocate-general on the matter. But there was no further progress on the matter as the ruling party wanted to wait for the outcome of the by-elections held for 18 Assembly seats. It was expected that a decision on the civic polls would be taken at the cabinet meeting held on June 29 but it did not happen. The matter was not discussed at the subsequent meeting in August as well.
When asked whether civic bodies were facing the fund crunch with the stoppage central fund flow, the minister said that the fund situation was better now than it was two years ago. ‘’The major problem the civic bodies faced was in clearing power bills. The government came to their rescue and spent Rs 165 crore on clearing the bills. Now a majority of the municipalities are in a position to clear the bills regularly on their own,’’ he said, but was quick to add that there were about a dozen and more municipalities which still faced fund crunch. A major part of the expenditure incurred by municipalities such as Siddipet, Medak, Mahbubnagar, Kadapa, Pulivendula, Badvel and Macherla is on electricity for bringing drinking water from long distances and for its distribution. ‘’We are making plans to streamline water distribution to ensure that there are no transmission losses and sufficient revenue generation to meet the maintenance expenditure,’’ he said.