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Governance in Tamil Nadu local bodies in jeopardy as State government extends term of special officers

After the state government extended the term of local body special officers for another six months, experts fear that local body governance in Tamil Nadu will continue to be in jeopardy.

Published: 01st July 2018 05:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st July 2018 05:41 AM   |  A+A-

CM Edappadi K Palaniswamy | EPS

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: After the state government extended the term of local body special officers for another six months, experts fear that local body governance in Tamil Nadu will continue to be in jeopardy with the absence of local representatives.

Speaking at a panel discussion organised by the Association of Democratic Reform (ADR) and National Election Watch on Saturday, Jayaram Venkatesan of anti-corruption group Arappor Iyakkam said the local bodies are headless without any elected representatives and people are questioning alleged cases of corruption in everyday activities. He also highlighted the absence of ward committees in each of the 15 zones in the city.

“In Chennai, the concept of ward committees, according to the 74th amendment, is non-existent. Citizens have no access to information about their own localities. As per estimation, one ward committee should be responsible for five lakh people,” he said.

“Ideally each ward committee should have representatives from the local government, resident associations, neighbourhood groups and individual citizens. But this is severely lacking in TN,” he added.
Dr Balasubramaniam, a member of ADR from Karnataka, observed that citizen participation is a bigger casualty in urban India, compared to rural India.

“When I worked with tribals living in forests near Mysore, they showed interest in working as part of the local panchayat. But when I moved to Mysore city, I hit a stumbling block. People in urban areas are reluctant to be part of local bodies,” he said.

While the working efficiency of panchayati raj can be improved by roping women and youth into the system, forced urbanisation of villages is wrong, said Nanadakumar, a panchayati raj activist.
“In 2008, there were 12,685 villages around Madurai. But in one year, 100 villages were forced to become town panchayats,” he said.

The event also saw former Chief Election Commissioners such as NasimZaidi and T S Krishnamurthy discuss challenges and possibility of simultaneous elections and electoral malpractices and their consequences.

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