AIZAWL MUNICIPAL COUNCIL - Notes for I B.A.Dr. L.H.Chhuanawma Assistant ProfessorDept. of Political SciencePachhunga University College
The Aizawl Municipal Council started functioning from July 1, 2008 at its office at Thuampui Veng, Aizawl. The Council office is headed by a Chief Executive Officer.
The first election to the 19-member AMC held in November 2010 saw the Indian National Congress and Zoram Nationalist Party alliance forming the council (INC =5, ZNP =5) and the opposition alliance Mizo National Front and the Mizoram People Conference trailing by just one seat (MNF=5, MPC=4).
The AMC consists of 19 elected members representing 19 Wards of the city of Aizawl and other 12 members (11 MLAs and 1 Lok Sabha MP) appointed by the Governor of Mizoram. Roughly one-thirds (i.e. 6) of the total membership is reserved for women, these six seats shall be rotated after every five years. The tenure of the Council is five years.
II: Organizational Structure
At the apex of the AMC organization structure is a Board of Councilors consisting of the 19 elected members and 12 members appointed by the Governor. This BOC, headed by the Chairman, is similar to the State Legislative Assembly. It is the highest decision-making body of the AMC. The appointed members shall take part in the AMC meetings but shall have no voting rights.
There is an Executive Council of the AMC consisting of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman, both elected by the elected Councilors, besides three members of the Executive Council known as Executive Councilors, to be appointed by the Chairman. The Chairman is the executive head of the AMC. The EC exercises all the executive powers of the AMC.
There is a Ward Committee in every Ward. The Ward Committee consists of a Chairman, who is an elected Councilor from that Ward, and two members each from all the Local Councils within the Ward. Besides this, the Ward Committee Chairman shall appoint three others from amongst prominent citizens of the Ward, one of which shall be a woman. The term of the Ward Committee is five years.
There shall be, in each locality, a Local Council. A locality having less than 1500 voters shall have five members while a locality with more than 1500 voters shall have seven members. The term of the Local Council is three years.
It may be noted that since November 24, 2010 all the Village Councils in Aizawl have functioned as Local Councils. There are currently 78 Local Councils in Aizawl city.
III: Powers and Functions
Mizoram Municipalities Act, 20017 (As amended in 2009) contains a list of the powers and functions of the AMC.
1. Core Municipal Services:
(i) water supply for domestic, industrial, and commercial purposes,
(ii) drainage and sewerage.
(iii) solid waste management,
(iv) preparation of plan-for economics development and social justice,
(v) communication systems including construction and maintenance of roads, footpaths, pedestrian pathway, transportation terminals, both for passengers and goods, bridges, over-bridges, subway, ferries and inland water transport system,
(vi) transport system accessories including traffic engineering schemes, street furniture, street lighting, parking areas and bus stops,
(vii) community health and protection of environment including planting and caring of trees on road sides and elsewhere,
(viii) markets and slaughter house.
(ix) promotion of educational, sport and cultural activities, and
(x) aesthetic environment, and
2. Discretionary functions
A Municipality may, having regard to the satisfactory performance of its core functions which shall constitute the first charge on the Municipal Fund, undertake or perform, any of the following functions, considered 'discretionary functions', with regards to:
(1) town planning, urban development and development of commercial infrastructure,
(2) protection of environment,
(3) public health and sanitation,
(4) education and culture.
3. Power to impose taxes
The AMC has the power to impose the following types of taxes:
(a) Property tax,
(b) a profession tax,
(c) a tax on carriages and animals,
(d) a tax on carts,
(e) advertisement tax other than advertisements published in newspapers.
4. Power to punish offenders
The AMC has extensive powers to punish persons for violation of provisions of the Mizoram Municipal Act. For reasons of public health and safety, the AMC can take various preventive and punitive steps. For example, it has the power to demolish buildings or structures found to be either unsafe for the public or that are likely to spread diseases.
IV: Sources of finance
Sources of finance for the AMC are:
(i) Finance Commission of India, under grants for local bodies-Panchayati Raj Institutions and Urban Local Bodies,
(ii) Grants from the Central Government,
(iii) Grants from the state government,
(iv) Internal resource mobilization through taxation, fees, licences, etc
(v) Loan borrowings from external sources, to be obtained with prior approval of the state government
V: Functions transferred
The first actual transfer of function from the state government to the AMC was regarding the transfer of management of Ch Chhunga Bus Terminal at Thuampui Veng and Ch Saprawnga Truck Terminal at Rangvamual Veng on May 27, 2009. Since July 4, 2011 the AMC and the state government has implemented solid waste management project within Aizawl city on a PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode.
Other functions presently (August 2011) being considered by the state government for transfer to the AMC, eight in number, are: Solid waste management, slum improvement and up gradation, urban poverty alleviation, parks and gardens, burials and burial grounds, cattle ponds and animal controls, street lighting including parking lots and public conveniences, slaughter house and markets.
Some of the problems being faced by the AMC may be noted here very briefly: Lack of political will-the state government is reluctant to hand over power to the AMC; various state government line departments are reluctant to hand over functions to the AMC; the AMC staff, Councilors and the public alike are still in the dark about the actual functions and role the AMC. Financial constraints also limit transfer of functions from the state government to the AMC.
There is a need to spread awareness about the AMC and its current problems so that political pressure is exerted on the state government to make the AMC a truly democratic and an efficient Urban Local Body. The media could be roped in to play a big role here.
(The study material is published here with the permission of the author.)