Over 40 per cent of the 18,000 cooperative housing societies in Pune are awaiting directives from the Maharashtra government on holding elections to their executive committees. With no directive or advisory, thus far, all major decisions with regard to society work are on hold.
Since the 2014 reforms, holding of general elections for cooperative housing societies have become a legal necessity. The state cooperative election commissioner oversees these elections, which are held once in five years for formation of a new executive committee.
The committees oversee the running of societies and represent them before the government. They are vested with the power to levy maintenance charge, which is used for various works related to the welfare of societies. Also, the transfer of tenements or parking spaces within societies can’t be done without the panel’s nod.
Majority of the societies have seen elections held unopposed but politics does play its part in some.
Suhas Patwardhan, chairman, Pune District Cooperative Housing Federation, said elections to these housing societies were scheduled to take place but couldn’t as the Covid-induced lockdown put a brake on them. “We asked the government to simplify the rules for holding elections and exempt societies with less than 250 members from electing their executive committee members in their Annual General Body Meeting. The government agreed and made necessary changes to the law. However, the rules are yet to be notified,” he said.
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Till the new rules take effect, these societies are legally bound to hold their elections and bear the expense as well. “In most cases, the functioning of the societies is vested in a few people. So, funds can be a problem at times,” he said.
Citing the recent Assembly elections in Bihar and the MLC polls in Maharashtra, Patwardhan said, “The housing societies are much more disciplined and adherence to social distancing norms wouldn’t be very difficult.
The Federation recently met the cooperative election commissioner and the cooperation minister to discuss the matter. “Both of them have assured us the matter would be resolved at the earliest,” Patwardhan said.
While most societies hold elections unopposed, the delay in formation of elected executive committees has left many of them grappling with legal problems. In some cases, where there have been complaints against the outgoing committee, a new body is yet to take shape to examine the charges. “The government should look into this on priority,” Patwardhan said.
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