When it comes to conducting of election, the cooperative housing societies in Pune seem to have a huge backlog. In fact, the backlog and slow pace of elections at these societies have recently prompted the State Cooperative Election Authority (SCEA) to issue 1,450 letters to the housing societies, urging them to hold elections at the earliest.
One of the major reforms in the cooperative sector was the provision of direct elections and formation of the state cooperative election authority. Headed by Commissioner Madhukar Chaudhari, this body is entrusted with conducting free and fair elections for more than 1.95 lakh cooperative institutions in the state. Cooperative housing societies form the bulk of the societies and are the largest cooperative bodies in urban centres like Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nashik etc. Since its formation three years ago, the authority has conducted elections in more than 95,000 cooperative institutions which includes banks, sugar mills, spinning mills etc. As per the Act, the cooperative bodies are supposed to intimate the election authority about their due election. The election authority, in turn, appoints an observer and conducts elections through secret ballot. The failure to conduct timely election can lead to the dismissal of the board.
However, the cooperative housing in Pune seems to be lagging behind when it comes to notifying the authority about the expiry of their executive body. Given the workload on the district deputy registrars, action against defaulting societies has also not been taken. Cooperative housing societies are expected to elect an executive body among their members who, in turn, take over the running and maintenance of the society. The executive body also looks after the budget as well as issues arising in the society. Pune district has around 15,000 registered cooperative housing societies.
Speaking about the notices, Chaudhari said they were issued to housing societies as many of them have failed to intimate the authority about the term of expiry of their executive bodies. “The letter, while asking them to conduct election immediately, has also listed out the manner in which the elections can be held,” he said. Prior to the issuance of the letters, the Authority had, through advertisements, urged housing societies to contact assistant registrars or ward officers to inform them of the expiry of their term and conduct election. “We have also asked the Federation of Cooperative Housing Societies to help us in raising awareness about the matter,” he said.
Suhas Patwardhan, president of the Pune District Cooperative Housing Societies Federation, agreed there was a problem and said they had taken up the matter in all earnest. “We have written about it in our monthly magazine and also talk about the same everywhere we go for holding seminars and camps,” he said. Patwardhan said the federation sought that the housing societies be allowed to hold election in their annual general meeting, which normally sees good attendance.