After much delay, the state government has initiated the process of holding elections for district panchayat committees (DPCs) of all 33 districts under Gujarat Metropolitan Planning Commit-tee Act, 2008. The Act gives authority to such committees, comprising elected and executive members, to decide the way they want to draft development schemes in their civic areas.
Under the Act, in accordance with Article 243ZE of the Constitution, for all urban and metropolitan areas, metropolitan planning committee (MPC) with 2/3rd majority of elected members from municipal corporation and district panchayats can prepare development plans and not any urban authorities, like Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority. In an affidavit filed in the Gujarat High Court Tuesday, in response to a contempt petition moved by Gujarat Khedut Hitrakshak Samaj (GKHS) for implementing the Act, the state government has said that under the provisions, it has appointed collectors of all 33 districts as election authority to conduct election for DPCs.
A J Yagnik, the petitioner’s lawyer, said, “The Act provides that for all urban and metropolitan areas, metropolitan planning committee with 2/3rd majority of elected members from municipal corporation and district panchayats can only prepare Draft Development Plan, but not the urban authorities.”
According to the petitioner, the responsibility of planning and development in rural areas is of DPC under Article 243ZD and Metropolitan Planning Committee under Article 243ZE for urban areas, including municipal corporations and municipalities.
The GKHS has also filed a petition earlier this year challenging the legality of several sections of Gujarat Town Planning and Urban Development Act, 1976 citing the constitutional amendment of 1992-93 that gave power of planning and development in rural areas to DPC.
Several district panchayats, like Jamnagar and Gandhinagar, have also moved before the HC, challenging the powers of urban authorities such as Jamnagar Urban Development Authority and Gandhinagar Urban Development Authority for drafting development plans. Instead, according to the petitioners, the powers should be conferred to DPCs and MPCs.