AIZAWL MUNICIPAL COUNCIL (AMC)
In this paper, attempt will be made to briefly trace the origin of the Aizawl Municipal Council (AMC), and outline the composition and powers of the AMC. Problems faced by the AMC and its future prospects will also be analyzed.
For long, Aizawl have been having Village Councils although it became an urban settlement for much of post-Independence period. In spite of people's demand for establishing Municipality for Aizawl in line with the 74th Constitutional Amendment (1993), hitherto no political party or state government really demonstrated a willingness to have one. It is therefore interesting to note that the AMC owes its origin to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), a pressure exerted from outside (Delhi).
JNNURM was launched in the country by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Indian Prime Minister in December 2005. JNNURM envisaged addressing infrastructural deficiencies, poor service delivery systems and poor governance in 63 selected cities including Aizawl. The JNNURM made it compulsory on the part of state governments receiving funds for city infrastructural developments to necessarily carry our reforms such as starting Municipalities and holding elections for such decentralized urban local bodies (ULB).
The state government then enacted The Mizoram Municipalities Act, 2007. The said Act was notified on April 20, 2007 (It came into effect from this date). The act provides for establishment of: (a) A Municipal Board for a specified transitional area, (b) A Municipal Council for a smaller urban area, (c) A Municipal Corporation for a larger urban area.
The AMC started functioning from July 1, 2008 at its office at Thuampui Veng, Aizawl. The Council office was headed by Chief Executive Officer.
And on June 12, 2007 the State Government of Mizoram, Urban Development & Poverty Alleviation Department of Mizoram and the Union Ministry of Urban Development signed a tripartite Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). The MoA explicitly binds the state government to implement reform agenda under the JNNURM (such as establishment of ULB under 74th Amendment), failure to do so would entail withholding subsequent installments of grants given by the centre to the state of Mizoram.
The first election to the 19-member AMC held in November 2010 saw the Indian National Congress and Zoram Nationalist Party alliance forming the council (INC=5, ZNP=5) and the opposition alliance Mizo National Front and the Mizoram People Conference trailing by just one seat (MNF=5, MPC=4).
The AMC consists of 19 elected members representing 19 Wards of the city of Aizawl and others appointed by the Governor of Mizoram. Roughly one-thirds (i.e.6) of the total membership is reserved for women, these six seats shall be rotated after every five years. The tenure of the Council is five years.
(A Member of Lok Sabha from Mizoram and an unspecified number of Members of Legislative Assembly representing the Municipality area shall also be members without voting rights. On November 12, 2010 the state government appointed 12 persons as members of the Board of Councillors. They were: CL Ruala, MP LS; R Romawia, H Liansailova, Lal Thanzara, R Lalrinawma, Lalsawta, R Selthuama, Col ZS Zuala, KS Thanga, all from INC; Lalduhawma, K Liantlinga, from ZNP; Brig T Sailo, from MPC).
There is a Board of Councilors consisting of the 19 elected members and others appointed by the Governor. This BOC, headed by the Chairman, is similar to the State Legislative Assembly. It is the highest decision-making body of the AMC.
There is an Executive Council of the AMC consisting of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman, both elected by the elected Councilors, besides three members of the Executive Council known as Executive Councilors, to be appointed by the Chairman. The Chairman is the executive head of the AMC. The EC exercises all the executive powers of the AMC.
[The first and current members of the EC are: CT Zakhuma (INC), Chairman: General Administrntion Department, Accounts & Cash Department; Zarzoliana (ZNP); Vice Chairman : PWD; Lalzirliana(INC): Public Health & Corivenience Department, Stores Department; Hmingthanzami (ZNP): Revenue Department, Education Department; F Lalhuthangi (INC): Water Supply Dept, Lighting & Electricity dept]
There is a Ward Committee in every Ward. The Ward Committee consists of a Chairman, who is an elected Councilor from that Ward, and two members each from all the Local Councils within the Ward. Besides this, the Ward Committee Chairnan shall appoint three others from amongst prominent citizens of the Ward, one of which shall be a woman. The term of the Ward Committee is five years.
There shall be, in each locality, a Local Council. A locality having less than 1500 voters shall have five members while a locality with more than 1500 voters shall have seven members. The term of the Local Council is three years. It may be noted that since November 24; 2010 all the Village Councils in Aizawl have functioned as Local Councils.1
There are currently 78 Local Councils in Aizawl city.
III: Powers and Functions
Chapter VI of the Mizoram Municipalities Act, 20017 (As amended in 2009)2 contains a list of the powers and functions of the AMC, reproduced here in toto:
Section 57: Functions of Municipality
(1) Every Municipality shall
- Provide, on its own or arrange to provide, through any agency the following core municipal services:
- water supply for domestic, industrial, and commercial purposes,
- drainage and sewerage.
- solid waste management,
- preparation of plan-for economic development and social justice,
- communication systems including construction and maintenance of roads,. footpaths, pedestrian pathway, transportation terminals, both for passengers and good, bridges, over-bridges, subway, ferries and inland water transport system,
- transport system accessories including traffic engineering schemes, street furniture, street lighting, parking areas and bus stops,
- community health and protection of environment including planting and caring of trees on road sides and elsewhere,
- markets and slaughter house.
- promotion of educational, sport and cultural activities, and
- aesthetic environment, and
- perform such other statutory or regulatory functions as may be provided by or under this Act or under any other law for the time being in force.
(2) The Municipality may, having regard to its managerial, technical, financial and organizational capacity, and the actual condition obtaining in the municipal area, decide not to take up, or postpone the performance of, any of the function as aforesaid.
(3) The State Government may direct a Municipality to perform any of the functions as aforesaid, if such function is not taken up, or is postponed, by the Municipality.
(4) The Municipality may plan, build, operate, maintain or manage the infrastructure required for the discharge of any of the functions, as aforesaid, either by itself or by agency under any concession agreement referred to in 58 -A.
Section 58: Discretionary functions of the Municipality:
“A Municipality may, having regard to the satisfactory performance of its core functions which shall constitute the first charge on the Municipal Fund, and subject to· its managerial, technical and financial capabilities, undertake or perform, or promote the performance of any of the following functions:
(1) in the sphere of town planning, urban development and development of commercial infrastructure,
- Planned Development of new areas for human settlement.
- Measures for beautification of the municipal area by setting up parks and fountains, providing recreational area, improving river banks, and landscaping.
- Collection of statistics and data, significant to the community, and
- Integration of the development plans and schemes of the municipal area with the district or regional development plan, if any.
(2) in the sphere of protection of environment,
- Reclamation of wastelands, promotion of social forestry and maintenance of open spaces.
- Establishment and maintenance of nurseries for plants, vegetables and trees and promotion of greenery through mass participation.
- organization of flower-show and promotion of flower-growing as a civic culture, and.
- promotion of measures for abatement of all forms of pollution;
- Construction and maintenance of cattle pounds,
- Provision for unfiltered water supply for non-domestic uses,
- Advancement of civic consciousness of public health and general welfare by organizing discourses, seminars and conferences, and
- Measures for eradication of addiction of all kinds including addiction to drug and liquor.
(4) in the sphere of education and culture,
- promotion of civic education, adult education, social education and on-formal education,
- promotion of culture activities including music, physical education, sport and theaters and infrastructure therefore,
- advancement of science and technology in urban life,
- publication of municipal journals, periodicals and souvenirs, purchase of book, and subscription to journal, magazines and newspapers,
- installation of statues, portraits and pictures in appropriate manner,
- organization, establishment and maintenance of art galleries and botanical or zoological collections, and
- maintenance of monuments and places of historical, artistic and other importance.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act but subject to the provisions of any State law relating to planning, development operation, maintenance and management of Municipal infrastructure and services, a" Municipality may, in the discharge of its functions specified in section 57, section 58, and section 59,
- promote the undertaking of any project fur supply of Urban environmental infrastructure or services by participation of a company, firm, society, trust or anybody corporate or any institution, or government agency or any agency under any other law for the time being in force, in financing, construction, maintenance and operation of such project of a Municipality irrespective of its cost,
- consider and approve the undertaking of any project relating to urban environmental infrastructure or services by a company, or firm, or society, or body corporate in terms of a private sector participation agreement or jointly with any such agency, and
- consider and approve the undertaking of any project relating to urban environmental infrastructure or service by any institution, or government agency or any agency under any other law for the time being in force, or jointly with any such agency.
In the discharge of its obligations for providing urban environmental infrastructure and services in relation to water-supply, drainage and sewerage; solid waste management, communication systems and commercial infrastructure, the municipality may, wherever considered appropriate in the public interest,-
- discharge any of its obligations on its own, or
- enter into any private sector participation agreement.
59. Transfer of functions of State Government:
- Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force, the State Government may, subject to such conditions as it may think fit to impose, transfer, by an order published in the Official Gazette, to a Municipality any such functions and duties relating to Government under any law which the State Legislature is competent to enact, or which is otherwise within the executive power of the State, and appear to relate to matters arising within a municipal area being of an administrative character, and shall, on such transfer, allot to the Municipality such fund and personnel as may be necessary to enable the Municipality to discharge the functions and duties transferred.
- Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of sub-section(1), the State Government may transfer to the Municipality such functions and duties as are performed by the departments of the State Government on any of the following matters:
- town and country planning;
- urban development;
- water supply and sanitation;
- transport system including regulation of traffic terminus;
- employment schemes and programmes;
- health and family welfare;
- relief and social welfare including social security schemes and programmes;
- public works including road construction and housing;
- cottage and small-scale industries, business and services including programme for skill development;
- education including primary education, adult education, vocational education, social education, non formal education, audiovisual education and library services;
- food and supplies including rationing and distribution;
- civil defense;
- fire protection and fire-fighting;
- sports and youth services
- Welfare of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes;
- environmental safety and improvement;
- social forestry and plantation programme.
- Where any function or duty under any law is so transferred. such law shall have e~ as if this section has formed a part of such law, and thereupon such law shall be deemed to have been amended accordingly
Besides this, the AMC also have the power of taxation as per Section 210 of the same Act, it says:
Every municipality may levy,
- Property tax; and
- a profession tax;
- a tax on carriages and animals;
- a tax on carts, and
- advertisement tax other than advertisements published in newspapers.
It may be noted that the Act contains more or less similar subjects contained under the12th Schedule of the Indian Constitution as incorporated by the 74th amendment. For the benefit of comparison between the Act and the 12th Schedule, the latter is reproduced here in toto:
(Article 243 W)
- Urban planning including town planning.
- Regulation of land-use and construction of buildings.
- Planning for economic and social development.
- Road and bridges.
- Water supply for domestic, industrial and, commercial purposes.
- Public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management.
- Fire services.
- Urban forestry protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.
- Safeguarding the interests of weaker section of society, including the handicapped and mentally retarded.
- Slum improvement and up gradation.
- Urban poverty alleviation.
- Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens, playgrounds.
- Promotion of cultural, educational and aesthetic aspects.
- Burials and burial grounds; cremations, cremation ground and electric crematoriums.
- Cattle ponds; prevention of cruelty to animals
- Vital statistics including registration of births and deaths.
- Public amenities including street light, parking lots, bus stop and public conveniences.
- Regulation of slaughter and tanneries.
IV: Subjects/Power transferred so far
The first actual transfer of power from the state government to the AMC was regarding the transfer of management of Ch.Chhunga Bus Terminal at Thuampui Veng and Ch.Saprawnga Truck TerminaI at Rangvamual Veng on May 27, 2009.
Eight subjects are presently being considered by the state government for transfer to the AMC, they are: Solid waste management, slum improvement and up gradation, urban poverty alleviation, parks and gardens, burials and burial grounds, cattle ponds and animal controls, street lighting including parking lots and public conveniences, slaughter house and markets.
V: Sources of finance Sources of finance for the AMC are:
- Finance Commission of India, grants for local bodies-Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies,
- Grants from the state government,
- Internal resource mobilization through taxation,
- Loan borrowing from external sources, with the prior approval of the state government.
The AMC is set for a very crucial and challenging road ahead. In spite of its late start than the rest of India and some problems at hand, there are reasons to hope that the AMC would someday be a very vibrant urban local body.
It has already been noted that the JnNURM has very clearly bound the state government as well as the AMC to carry out some crucial reforms aimed at strengthening the AMC. There is another set of reforms agenda set in motion through Asian Development Bank program called the North Eastern Region Capital Cities Development Investment Program, launched since 2009 in the five NE state capitals of Aizawl, Tripura, Gangtok, Kohima and Shillong. This ADB-aided program, much like the JnNURM, makes it mandatory on the part of the state government and the AMC to necessarily implement both institutional and infrastructural reforms with regard to governance of the AMC, urban amenities and infrastructure in Aizawl with a view to eventually make the AMC to fully sustain itself financially as well by 2017.
Most of all, the people of Aizawl are by and large enthusiastic about the AMC. They seem to be quite keen to see a vibrant and effective Municipal Council in their capital city.
Some of the problems being faced by the AMC may be noted here very briefly: Lack of political will - the state government is reluctant to hand over power to the AMC; various state government departments are reluctant to hand over responsibilities to the AMC; the AMC staff, Councilors and the public alike are still in the dark about the actual functions and role the AMC.
There is a need to spread awareness about the AMC and its current problems so that political pressure is exerted on the state government or any future government to make the AMC a truly democratic and efficient ULB. The media should be roped in to play a big role here.
Notes and references
- Notification. Government of Mizoram, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Department. November 24, 2010
- Mizoram Municipalities Act. 2007 (As amended in 2009). The Government Press, Aizawl, 2009
- Abbreviations: AMC: Aizawl Municipal Council; INC: Indian National Congress; ZNP: Zoram" Nationalist Party; MPC: Mizoram People Conference; ULB: Urban Local Body;
(This Paper was presented in the UGC-Sponsored National Seminar on "Rural Development without Panchayati Raj Institutions in NE India", organized by Government J. Buana College, Lunglei on May 18&19, 2011 and is posted in this site with the permission of the author)