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Devolution Of Power To ADC-Govt, HAC Fail To See Eye To Eye

IMPHAL, Oct 15: Though the Congress-led SPF Government had been succeeded in conducting the election to the six Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) of the hill districts after a lapse of around 20 years, difference of opinion between the Government and the Hill Areas Committee (HAC) has surfaced over the issue of power devolution.

HAC had given its approval to the conduct of the ADC elections despite strong opposition from some groups.

Talking to The Sangai Express in this connection, some MLAs from the hill districts said that after a meeting of the State Cabinet on August 25 last had discussed the issues related to devolution of power to the ADCs, the decision taken in this regard had been referred to the HAC for further consideration.

However, on reviewing the Cabinet decision on devolution of power, HAC has come to know that  the power to be transferred to the ADCs are not in accordance to the relevant Act that had been passed by the State Assembly. Besides, there are also various other issues which are not very clear, the MLAs contended.

They pointed out that in the District Council Act; there are provisions for transfer of power from each and every Department. But the Cabinet decision was for transferring power from only 25 departments. In accordance to the Act, there are provisions for transferring power from Education Department as well. But the Cabinet decision has taken into account of only the Adult Education when the fact is administration of school education in the hills upto the Junior High School level should be entrusted to the ADCs, they said.

Moreover, with exception to transferring of 50 percent of the power to the ADC with regard to selection of beneficiaries under Social Forestry and Jhumia Rehabilitation Scheme of the Forest Department and under Water Shed Area Development of the Horticulture and Soil Conservation, the proposed devolution of power from other Departments is just 20 percent. For instance, under TD Department, which is an important department for the development of the hill areas, only 20 percent of the power is to be devolved in connection with implementation of Housing Scheme (State Plan).

Similarly, devolution of only 20 percent has been mooted to the ADCs under Medical Treatment Scheme (State Plan), Agriculture/Horticulture (Sub-Plan), Animal Husbandry (Sub-Plan) and Assistance to Tribal Artistes (Sub-Plan), the MLAs cited.

As there is vast difference between the Cabinet decision and provisions laid down in the Act, HAC had constituted a Sub-Committee headed by MLA Khangthuanang as chairman and deputed the same to study the patter of power devolution in ADCs of neighboring States like Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam. In these three States, with exception to legislative power, all the power ensured under the Sixth Schedule has been granted to the respective ADCs, the MLAs informed.

After discussing the report of the Sub-Committee for over three days, HAC has submitted necessary recommendations to the Chief Minister yesterday, the MLAs disclosed, adding that the same power enumerated under the Act have been highlighted in the recommendations.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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