Jamshedpur citizens do not want municipal corporation

Jamshedpur | Updated: Jan 16 2006, 06:17am hrs
The steel city is witnessing an unprecedented campaign against the formation of a municipal corporation. Mooted by the state government recently for its six big cities, including this one, various sections of society, including women, social organisations, corporates and individuals, here have been lodging their disapproval in large numbers against the formation of a municipal corporation in the only ISO 14000 city in the country.

Citizens of Indias only UN Global Compact city, having been preferred in 2003 over Bangalore and Shanghai, which missed out on the tag as they did not have an industrial houses backing, said that since both the state and the Centre had given their concurrence in 2003 for it to be included as a UN Global Compact city, the industrial township status should have been a natural corollary.

Till Monday, around 54,000 individuals had signed and submitted a joint application against a municipal corporation, while another 16,500 persons had on an individual level opined against the formation of such a body. Also, more than 200 social organisations, 35 womens bodies and another 40 corporates have expressed their disapproval for the civic body, with most of them demanding an industrial township tag instead. In fact, the Jamshedpur Citizen Forum (JCF), like most people here, expressed surprise at the governments move to form a municipal corporation despite an official announcement some time ago of its intention of declaring the city an industrial township.

An earlier attempt in 1991-92 by the then Bihar government had seen the citizens rejecting the formation of a municipal corporation. According to the state gazette notification, suggestions and objections for and against the issue are to be lodged by January 18. The state would, thereafter, accordingly decide on the matter.

Most think that an industrial township status is the most appropriate solution for the city as the 74th Amendment to the Constitution, which talks of the formation of a municipal corporation for cities having a population of 10 lakh and above, also speaks of formation of an industrial township at places where an industrial house, already into providing civic amenities, is willing to continue such services.

Until March 31, 2004, it was Tata Steels town division, while subsequently it has been its 100% subsidiary, the Jamshedpur Utilities & Services Company (Jusco), which has been providing a majority of the civic amenities to the town even though the government-run civic body, the Jamshedpur Notified Area Committee (JNAC), exists parallely.

According to sources, Tata Steel (and now Jusco) has been annually funding a deficit of around Rs 100 crore on account of running the township. While around six lakh people reside in the leasehold area that forms a major portion of the JNAC, another four lakh reside in peripheral areas of town areas, including several panchayat areas and two mini townships covered by the Jugsalai and the Mango notified area committees (NACs).

A number of social organisations and political parties have been voicing their disapproval of the inclusion of several surrounding panchayats in the proposed municipal corporation. Thus, while opposition to formation of a corporation is enormous, most people living in non-lease fringe areas feel the government should instead concentrate on providing quality civic services, either itself or through an agency, like Jusco.