Housing societies to be roped in for election duty

Reluctant Chairmen and Secretaries of cooperative housing societies will be unable to shirk election-related work anymore. The state government has declared them as booth level volunteers who will assist the Election Commission in carrying out the photo identity cards drive and other jobs related to the elections.

The recent state circular says that the housing society office bearers must attend joint meetings called by the electoral officer and assistant registrar of cooperative societies. They will also ensure registration of new voters from their societies who have attained the voting age of 18 years. Besides this, the office bearers will maintain records of voters who have shifted to other housing societies and delete names of the deceased members. To ensure the exercise, the state circular issued by the cooperation department, a copy of which is with this newspaper, says the information will be part of the annual report of the society.

The report to be submitted to the state cooperation department will contain a list of new voters, the newly- shifted and the deceased members. The information will have to be updated before August 15 every year, says the circular.

The state circular is the result of non-cooperation on the part of the society office bearers during various drives conducted as per the directives issued by the Election Commission. A circular to this effect, issued on April 19, 2010, failed to elicit any response from the housing societies. In April, fresh directives were issued after the Election Commission decided to announce office bearers of the cooperative societies as the booth level volunteers.

As the housing societies across the state were governed under the State Cooperative Societies Act, the state has issued the circular, said a senior official from the cooperation department.

Out of the almost 45,000 housing societies across the state, Mumbai alone has around 25,000 societies of which 18,000 are registered with the federation.

Anil Jadhav, chairman of the Mumbai District Cooperative Housing Federation, which represents over 18,000 societies, said, “We have decided to invite suggestions and objections from our members about this circular and will submit them to the state government. Though the election commission directive is binding on us, we want our members to participate consensually.

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