Despite the fact that the government had declared merger of 28 fringe villages into Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits, the State Election Commission conducted grampanchayat polls in Phursungi earlier this week.
Locals allege that the government machinery, well aware of the fact that newly formed gram panchayat bodies will automatically dissolve after the merger, took this strange decision of wasting taxpayer’s money. “It seems there was no coordination between the Election Commission and the Urban Development Department,” alleged Vivek Velankar, president of Sajag Nagrik Manch, a NGO.
“Several lakh rupees were spent on conducting the elections. There was a limit of 15,000 imposed on each grampanchayat office, but willing candidates were allowed to spend up to Rs 25,000. With 58 candidates in the fray for the Phursungi grampanchayat, the amount spend for the procedure came to around Rs 15.7 lakh,” said Block District Officer Chandrakant Waghmare.
“It means big money for small villages. The amount spend on conducting polls should have been spent on development work in the village,” said Raju Kisan Chand, former deputy sarpanch, Phursungi village. According to Ranjeet Bhosale, nayab tahsildar of Haveli Taluka, “Although we are aware of the impending merger, we had to follow the EC rules. In fact, we are sure that even the election body is aware of the merger. Hence, we didn’t question their decision of conducting the election.”
While Mahesh Pathak, PMC commissioner, said that the civic body is not sure when the merger will happen. “It may take six months or even a
year.” However, the villagers are not in favour of the merger. “This elections appears to be farce. We have filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court against the possible merger, and will do all to make sure that we aren’t forced to be part of the PMC,” said Kaushalya Harphale, the newly elected member.
She added that the villagers are ready to go on hunger strike, organise rasta roko or take out a morcha to the Mantralaya.
As per the State Urban Development Department notification issued on October 11, 2012, 28 villages will be merged in the PMC soon. These villages are: Mahalunge, Sus, Bavdhan Budruk, Kirkitwadi, Pisoli, Lohagaon, Kondhwe-Dhavde, Kopre, Nanded, Khadakwasala, Shivne, Sadesatranali, Keshvnagar, Manjri, Narhe, Shivne, Ambegaon Budruk, Undri, Dhayari, Ambegaon Khurda, Mantarwadi, Holkarwadi, Handewadi, Wadachi Wadi, Shevalwadi, Yevlewadi and Phursungi.