Eye on polls, NCP pushes PMC limits to include 7 villages
By crushing opposition from Congress and MNS and leaning on BJP-Sena, the Sharad Pawar-led party presses on with merger of villages with Pune Municipal Corporation, gets it approved in House
Ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha and state assembly elections, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), with the help of opposition parties Shiv Sena and BJP, approved the state government’s proposal of including seven new villages in the city limits.The decision was taken in the PMC general body meeting on Wednesday. Even though Congress and MNS corporators tried their best to postpone the proposal by strongly objecting to it and pointing out many flaws in it, Mayor Chanchala Kodre declared a vote on the issue. The proposal got approved with 49 members of the general body voting for it and 38 against it.
The seven villages are Mouje Nandoshi, Mangdevadi, Bhilarewadi, Gujar Nimbalkarwadi, Jambhulwadi, Kolewadi and Wagholi. They are together an NCP stronghold, and have the presence of BJP-Sena.
The PMC had earlier given approval to merge 28 villages situated on the city’s peripheries. After today’s development the number of villages that will, in the near future, be included in the PMC limits has increased to 35.
“Including these seven new villages in the PMC is not just vote-bank politics. The NCP has shaken hands with the builder lobby. Builders have already purchased lands in these far-out villages, and the party has pushed this proposal by influencing the state government,” said Arvind Shinde, PMC leader of opposition.
“Did the gram panchayats of these villages ever demand or convey their consent to the state government that they are willing to merge in the PMC? On what basis are we going to approve this strange proposal?” he asked.
Didn’t visit villages
During the meeting, MNS leader Vasant More raised objections over merging the villages. He said, “They are situated in very remote areas and it is difficult to provide basic facilities there.” He targeted the PMC city engineer Prashant Waghmare, stating that no PMC official had even visited these villages. “If you have not even visited the villages, how can the general body approve the merger?” More asked.
Shinde alleged that an official of the government’s town planning department, who sent a proposal to the PMC about the merger of six villages, had no power to make such proposals. Hence, the general body should postpone the proposal for a month and discuss it in January, after talking to the state government about it.
Targeting Shinde, House leader Subhash Jagtap said, “It shows how badly the town planning department is functioning.” Afteran hour-long discussion, the mayor finally asked the matter to be put to vote. Soon after the voting, furious Congress corporators stepped out of the house.
Refuting all the allegations levelled by Congress councillors, NCP corporator Dilip Barate said, “Congress corporators’ problem is that they never support any of our decisions. Now they have to understand that their chief minister himself had given the approval to merge the villages in the city.”
Rubbishing the accusation that NCP was favouring the builder lobby, he said, “If you see the unplanned development of villages like Shivne, one can realise the need not to replace such bad models in other villages. That’s why the NCP is in favour of including these villages in the PMC limits.”
The outskirts of the city, suburbs and villages, are already the domain of the NCP. Once the seven villages are included in the list, it will help the party in the upcoming elections, which is a real fear for the Congress and the MNS. All these villages are situated in Katraj and Khadakwasla area. In the by-elections to the Khadakwasla constituency, held in October 2011, BJP candidate Bhimrao Tapkir won the seat, which was earlier with the MNS. That is why BJP and Shiv Sena support NCP over the merger of the villages, which will ultimately help these parties too.