Nagaland Municipal Act should be in consonance with Art. 371(A) — Zhaleo Rio
Kohima: Advisor for Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Zhaleo Rio stated that the Nagaland Municipal Act needs to be rewritten in consultation with tribal organisations and civil societies while the same should be revised in consonance with Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution.
In an interaction with Eastern Mirror on Thursday, Rio reiterated the stand of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly that passed the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 (Repeal Bill, 2023) in the midst of the directive from Supreme Court of India to hold the general elections to the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) in the state.
He affirmed that the resolution was adopted on the grounds that there was once again stiff opposition for conducting the ULB elections from various quarters such as the tribal hohos, civil societies, among others.
The advisor reiterated that they were not in a position to hold the election citing reasons that all the stakeholders including Eastern Naga Peoples’ Organisation (ENPO) have issued statements to boycott the election on the grounds that certain sections of the Municipal Act 2001 infringed Article 371 (A).
Rio asserted that despite the government having amended the Act dealing with tax on land and building, “they were not satisfied”.
He also apprised that the demand made to the government by the people included the need to review the Municipal Act on the issue of reservation of the office of the chairperson for women, and sentences and words in some portions of the Act.
“The government on the call of boycott by all the stakeholders decided that it was not advisable to hold election,” Rio said, adding that without the participation of people, election is impossible.
He mentioned that the ULB elections could not be held for many years, while recounting the attempts made to conduct the polls in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2017.
He recalled the massive protests staged by people in the past against holding the ULB elections leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties.
Till the intervening time, Rio went on to state that the government was convinced that the Act required to be repealed and rewritten in consonance with Article 371 (A), taking into consideration the customary practices and traditions of the Nagas.
“Government has taken a hard decision and we have decided to repeal the Act accordingly,” he said, affirming that the state government would write to the government of India as well the apex court as to why they had to take the decision to pass the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 (Repeal Bill, 2023) in the state assembly.
When asked when the rewriting of the Act would begin, Rio responded, ‘by and by, the process will start though we can’t tell you about the time frame now’.
“The whole Act has to be rewritten; but in consultation with the tribal organisations and civil societies. We are in that position now,” he added.