The state government clearing the merger of 34 villages with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), a move that will make PMC the biggest civic body in the state, has signalled the start of a political slanging match ahead of the Assembly elections, with parties claiming credit for it.
The ruling Congress-NCP cleared the proposal to meet what is described as a popular demand of villagers. In October 2012, it issued a notification for merging 28 villages but six more villages urged the state government to include them, which led to a delay.
“The city has been growing very fast resulting in real estate development in villages adjoining PMC. This had an impact on civic infrastructure as the civic body as per the old government directives had been providing civic facilities but does not have control over development activities growing haphazardly,” said an NCP leader.
PMC runs on revenue collected from residents in the existing civic limits but spends money to provide civic facilities to adjoining villages which do not contribute to the revenue, he added.
Incidentally, NCP has a hold on most of villages and it would enable planned development in these areas once they are merged.]
NCP’s alliance partner, Congress, had earlier expressed reservations against it saying the civic body is already burdened with the area already in its jurisdiction. “Congress gave its nod to the proposal after an assurance that other needs of the city, water supply and civic infrastructure, would be ensured,” said a Congress leader.
The decision to increase the city limits will check haphazard development, he added. However, BJP-Shiv Sena said it was during their rule in the state that the move was initiated but the Congress-NCP alliance had opposed it.
“The credit for increasing city limits should go to the saffron combine as it was mooted long ago. The Congress-NCP is trying to take credit ahead of Assembly elections,” said a Sena corporator.
This led to unplanned development in the villages. The developers, taking advantage of the delay in decision, created concrete jungle in these villages, he added.
A BJP leader said the Congress-NCP seems in a hurry to merge villages but their pathetic performance in the Lok Sabha elections would continue in the Assembly polls.
MNS has been opposing the proposal to extend city limits saying the civic body has failed to meet demands citizens made for civic facilities. “PMC has not been able to implement its development plan and falls short of implementing its budget. It would be difficult for the civic body to cater to more area,” said an MNS corporator.