Co-op law deadline looms, state mulls emergency cabinet meet

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SummaryA special cabinet meeting is likely to be called to discuss the measures the government can immediately adopt to ensure implementation of the 97th constitutional amendment to bring transparency to the co-operative sector.

A special cabinet meeting is likely to be called to discuss the measures the government can immediately adopt to ensure implementation of the 97th constitutional amendment to bring transparency to the co-operative sector.

Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had a late-evening closed-door meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday to discuss Maharashtra’s co-operative sector. The amendment brought in 2011 will become effective in February, and unless the government steps in or changes its laws, over 2.12 lakh co-operative bodies in Maharashtra stand to be dissolved.

Chavan had spoken about seeking another year to implement change in the statute, but state officials have reportedly been informed that one state cannot claim such an extension.

Chavan and Pawar met at the state guest house Sahyadri along with Finance Minister Ajit Pawar and Co-operatives Minister Harshvardhan Patil Tuesday evening. The meeting decided that Maharashtra needed to take steps to begin introducing reforms, and that a special meeting of cabinet should be called to discuss matter.

The amendment is aimed at ensuring autonomous and democratic functioning of cooperatives, and accountability of the management to members and other stakeholders.

It provides for free, fair, impartial and timely elections in cooperative societies by the State Election Commission or any other appropriate and independent body. It specifies that the number of directors in a co-operative society must not exceed 21, and that they must have a fixed term of five years. Co-operative societies must be audited by an independent, professional system, and the right to information must apply to society members.

Maharashtra’s co-operative societies are spread over sectors like banking, sugar and cotton farming, etc.

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