Imphal, Aug 20:
The Hill Areas Committee (HAC) has submitted a new Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021 to the Government of Manipur to table it in the present Assembly Session.
The Hill Areas Committee, Manipur Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted the Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Bill, 2021 on the 16th of August. Further, the Committee unanimously decided that the recommendation would be tabled as a Bill in the present Assembly Session of the House scheduled for the 20th of August, 2021.
In the press meet held at Classic Grande on 19th August 2021, the Hill Area Committee chairman Leishiyo Keishing maintained that Manipur comprises hills and valleys and hence Article 371 C was created for the hills, and Autonomous District Council comes under this particular Article. “We continue to follow the old District Council Act 1971 even after Manipur attained statehood in 1972, amending it from time to time. Hence the Hill Area Committee members on 16th of August, 2021 unanimously adopted a new bill and have submitted the same to the government” he informed and released the new Bill copies to the press.
MLA TN Haokip added that the new bill aims to effectively usher better development in the hill areas of the state. He said they have been deliberating on the subject for a long time to finally unanimously finalized the bill. If the bill is passed by the house and implemented, there would be visible development in the tribal areas according to him.
MLA Alfred Kanngam Arthur narrated that the present new Bill went through four and half years of thorough discussion within the HAC and has been duly forwarded to the government. He said there are certain special provisions for securing the development of the hills. He quotes from the Rule Book of the Legislative assembly that the HAC has been constituted with the sole purpose of ensuring accelerated development of the hill areas and secondly to promote unity between the people of the hill areas and other areas of the state by aiming at integrated and even based economic growth of those areas and augment the resources of the state as a whole.
Alfred K Arthur explained that unifying a state cannot only be an emotional integration and there has to be a basis of fundamental, sustainable and consistent growth. “Such consistencies can only happen when there is a firm law and hence Article 371(C) was added to the constitution of India to empowered these states and their residents /domiciles to grow together. Whereas the abysmal state of affairs in hills especially in most sectors concerning human lives needs much more consistent effort rather than piecemeal. Hence the HAC has come together and tried to bring about the best possible draft bill for the state to legislate and enact it so that the residents of the state get closer, the people grow as one and ultimately everybody enjoys the fruit of democracy. It is with this sole concept in mind and with the presence of all the HAC members that the draft bill was unanimously adopted. We feel we have introduced a good draft to ensure that the future generation of this state will appreciate how things can change when good legislation is brought to ensure equitable development for all residents of the state” he added.
The press conference was attended by several members of the HAC across the political parties including the lone lady member, MLA Nemcha Kipgen. The new bill was unanimously adopted by the present 18 members of the HAC on the 16th of August, 2021 with the following salient features :
a. More autonomy to the Hill Areas Committee and the Autonomous District Councils with regard to administration and management of Hill Areas of the State of Manipur.
b. Provisions to take into consideration the current ground realities in the Hill Areas of the State of Manipur including increasing the number of constituencies of the Autonomous District Council to 31 out of which 3 members to be nominated. Further, in the delimitation process of the 28 constituencies, 3/4th of the seats shall be allocated as per population representation of the areas covered under the Autonomous District and 1/4th of the seats shall be reserved for socio-economically backward areas and need-based special geographical areas within the respective Autonomous District
c. Creation of Hill Areas Secretariat for (i) Managing and coordinating the working of all the Autonomous District Councils; (ii) Reviewing and monitoring all the projects and programs undertaken by each Autonomous District Council; and (iii) Coordinate and manage the budgetary allocation as per department or area-wise requirement for the Hill Areas of Manipur
d. Providing first and second appeal with regard to the adjudication of an election petition under the Bill
e. Creation of an Executive Committee under the Autonomous District Councils which shall act as a cabinet of the Autonomous District Council. The Executive Committee shall have members not exceeding seven.
f. Bringing in Hill House Tax within the purview of the Autonomous District Council.
g. More effective and active involvement of Hill Areas Committee in development and economic planning including budget planning and allocations for the entire Hill Areas for the State of Manipur.