Gangtok gears up for civic status change

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  • Published 22.06.04

Gangtok, June 22: The state’s capital is ready to get its own municipal corporation.

The process, which the Sikkim Democratic Front initiated by passing the Sikkim Municipalities Act during its first term in power in 1995, will be completed by mid-August.

Chief minister Pawan Chamling has instructed the state urban development and housing department to ensure that the reins of administrative control are passed on to the corporation in a smooth manner.

Gangtok is currently under the purview of the department.

The changeover plan was marked “top priority” in the first 100-day development roadmap chalked out by Chamling.

Principal secretary of the state urban development department Jayshree Pradhan said the department would be ready for the government to notify it about the enforcement of the Municipality Act by mid-August.

The first step towards putting in place a municipal corporation involved the laying down of rules and procedures in conformation with the Sikkim Municipalities Act of 1995, after making amendments wherever necessary.

Pradhan said the conduct of election draft rules would be put in place by the election department.

“A delimitation of the municipal wards will be taken up after the state government approves the number of wards required for the Gangtok municipal corporation. This will be followed by the drafting of an electoral roll for all wards. This will be done by the election department,” she said.

“It will not be difficult because Gangtok already has an electoral roll as it is an Assembly constituency,” she added.

Gangtok did have a municipal corporation — known as the Gangtok Municipal Corporation — between 1975 and 1979. It was subsequently dissolved and the administrative control handed over to the state urban development department.

“The department’s town planner is demarcating the corporation’s boundaries and areas that will come under its purview,” Pradhan said.

“The government has to approve the number of wards it wants the corporation to be divided into,” she added.

At present, the minimum number of wards has been kept at three while the maximum would not exceed nine.

The chairman of the corporation will be elected from among the ward commissioners. The state urban development and housing department has constituted several committees to look after each aspect of the transition and ensure a glitch-free changeover.

Member of the legislative Assembly from Gangtok N.K. Pradhan said the task of turning the state capital into a municipal corporation was a step towards decentralising power.

“Gangtok municipal corporation will be an autonomous body. The urban development department will act as the nodal agency,” he said.