Monday, November 29, 1999

Sheila will head NDMC meetings

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New Delhi, June 18 -- In a move that would give elected representatives a voice in the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the Union Cabinet on Thursday decided to push for amending a law to make a local Member of Parliament a member of the council. The bill will also empower political representatives to chair the council's meetings. The NDMC chairman convenes and chairs meeting of the council of which chief minister Sheila Dikshit (in her capacity as the local legislator) is a member. The local MP, Minister of State in the Home Ministry Ajay Maken, is a special invitee at the council meetings. However, neither of them could attend the council meetings, which are chaired by a joint-secretary rank IAS officer, for more than a decade because of protocol glitches, a government official said. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said, "It has been found that the elected members do not attend the NDMC meetings due to protocol issues." Soni said the amendment - to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament - would outline the order that has to be followed regarding presiding over the meetings. According to the amended bill, the chief minister will chair the council meetings if she/he represents the NDMC area. In the CM's absence, an MP of the area, who is also a minister, will chair the meetings. If the MP representing the area is not a minister, then an MLA who holds a ministerial position in Delhi will chair its meetings. In the absence of all three, the area MP will preside over the meetings. In case, none of the four is available, then the NDMC chairman will preside over the meetings. In the present set up, Dikshit will chair the meetings and in her absence, Maken will preside over the meetings. Dikshit had written to home minister P. Chidambaram against the amendment but the ministry, after reviewing it at her request, decided to go ahead with the proposal. Discussing the bill, Soni said it also proposes to reduce the number of MLAs as members of the council from three to two because there are only two assembly constituencies whose area comes fully or partially in New Delhi."The approval will ensure greater participation of weaker sections of society and the people's representatives in the decision-making process of the NDMC," Soni said.

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