Kohima: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio asserted that Nagaland isn’t exempted from the 74th Amendment Act of the Indian Constitution and that women reservation and taxation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) cannot be exempted.

Rio was responding to the opposition against nominations to the advisory councils in municipalities and town councils. Addressing party workers during the 4th convention of the Nationalists Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) at the party office in Kohima on Tuesday, Rio said that the state is exempt from the 73rd Amendment, which deals with Panchayati Raj. But the same didn’t apply to the ULBs.

Saying that Nagas wanted to impose rural administration even in the urban areas, he said, “These are two different Acts.” He added that unless there is an election for the ULBs with women reservation and taxation, the Planning Commission would not allot grants for towns and municipalities. 

Rio said that women reservations must be provided, else, there had to be some arrangements for exemptions from the ministry. But till such time, he said that members, including women, will be nominated to the advisory councils to run the ULBs.

Despite an elected government in place, towns are managed by officers. One administrator is “running the whole show,” he said. This, he said, is like imposing “President’s Rule” as the people “have no voice”. 

He said the state government, political parties and tribal Hohos, including Tenyimi Peoples Organization (TPO), Central Nagaland Tribes Council (CNTC) and Eastern Nagaland Peoples Organization (ENPO) would nominate members to form the advisory councils. 

This was decided in consultation with the tribal Hohos, Rio said. If they had to nominate non-Naga members to advisory councils, they could make some adjustments, he added. 

As for taxation, Rio said that the towns could decide how much tax was to be imposed, as tax rates vary across municipalities. The revenue collected from these taxes, he said, would be utilised for town development. “If you don’t want to pay, your town will not be managed,” he said, further reiterating that the taxes collected will be used to upkeep the towns.

Chief Minister Rio also said that “so-called” municipal representatives, who are not recognised cannot object to the government decision. Ahead of conducting ULB elections, he said nominations to the advisory councils will be a “trial” involving women representation to “run the show”.

Earlier, three municipal associations, namely the Dimapur Urban Council Chairmen Federation (DUCCF), Association of Kohima Municipal Wards Panchayat (AKMWP) and All Ward Union Mokokchung Town (AWUMT) rejected the state government’s decision for the nomination of an advisory council in the urban local bodies (ULBs).

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