With a final announcement about the merger of 23 villages in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits likely soon, Ajay Jadhav takes a look at why the merger, planned years ago, took so long, and the challenges before PMC, as it is set to have the largest civic area in the state under it.
Why the merger
While the decision to merge the villages was taken years ago by the then Congress-NCP alliance government, the change of power in the state in 2014 led to a delay in its implementation. The plan got a push forward when residents of some of the villages approached the Bombay High Court, seeking its implementation.
The then BJP-led state government had submitted an affidavit in court, saying it would merge the villages in phases, with 11 villages merged in 2017, and complete the merger of all 34 villages by 2020.
All 34 villages chosen for the merger are located along PMC boundary, and have seen haphazard real estate development due to demand for cheaper properties there, compared to main Pune city.
Change in strength of corporators in PMC
As per the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, a municipal corporation with a population of over 24 lakh in its area needs to have a minimum of 145 elected corporators.
For every additional population of one lakh, one additional corporator has to be elected, and the maximum number of corporators is 221. In the PMC, the total number of corporators was 162 after the 2017 civic elections, which was increased to 164 after merger of 11 of the villages.
The merger of the remaining villages is expected to add a population of at least 4 lakh to the city, which will necessitate an increase in the number of corporators to 168 in the civic body, if the 2011 census is taken into consideration. If the 2021 census is completed before the 2022 civic polls, then the number of corporators in the PMC may increase further, considering the population increase in the existing city limits.
The 34 villages selected for merger in PMC are considered to NCP strongholds.
‘Politicising’ the issue
The ruling BJP in the PMC has expressed its reluctance over the merger of 23 new villages, citing the lack of funds to carry out development work in these villages. “The BJP is not against the merger, but wants it to be done in phases… that way, proper development can be done. The state government should also sanction funds of Rs 9,000 crore for their development,” said Mayor Murlidhar Mohol.
On the other hand, the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena – parties which rule the state in an alliance but are in the opposition in PMC — are in favour of merging these villages to check, the haphazard development in these areas.
“The merger of 23 villages is being done by the state government, based on an affidavit submitted by the then BJP-led government in the Bombay High Court. There is no point in politicising the issue,” said Deepali Dhumal, leader of opposition and NCP leader in PMC.
Rs 9,000 crore needed for developing basic infra
When the merger was first planned, the civic administration had estimated a cost of Rs 5,741 crore to carry out development work in the 34 villages. However, as per revised estimates, the civic body will need Rs 9,000 crore to ensure basic facilities such as water supply, sewage treatment, solid waste management, road construction and other civic facilities for residents of these areas.
In a communication to the state government, the PMC has stated that a ‘master plan’ needs to be drawn up for the development of the new areas. The civic body will also need more staffers to cater to the increased population of extended city limits.
The PMC has also been demanding the transfer of development charges collected by the PMRDA in the 11 villages merged in 2017, but is yet to recieve them.
Villages to be merged
The 23 villages proposed to be merged in PMC limits are Mhalunge, Sus, Bavdhan Budhruk, Kirkatwadi, Pisoli, Kondhwe-Dhawade, New Kopre, Nanded, Khadakwasla, Manjari Budhruk, Narhe, Mantarwadi, Holkarwadi, Autade-Handewadi, Wadachiwadi, Shewalewadi, Nandoshi, Mangdewadi, Bhilarewadi, Gujar Nimbalkarwadi, Jambhulwadi, Kolewadi and Wagholi.
Earlier, in 2017, 11 villages were merged with the city — Lohegaon, Mundhwa, Hadapsar, Uttamnagar, Shivane, Ambegaon Khurd, Undri, Dhayari, Ambegaon Budhruk, Phursungi and Urli Devachi.
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