Nagaland passes new Municipal Act with 33% women quota

Kohima: Nagaland’s 60-member legislature, on Thursday, unanimously passed the Nagaland Municipal Act 2023, mandating 33% women’s reservation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).

Deputy chief minister and convenor of the Select Committee which examined the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023, TR Zeliang, while participating in the discussion on consideration of the Bill said that the committee had thoroughly discussed the matter with the Chief Secretary, department officials and the apex Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) before finally recommending it to be passed in the Assembly. 

“I am most excited that this Bill will finally see the light of the day with 33% Women Reservation. I stand here with a sense of contentment and satisfaction, and I feel that I am the happiest for the Bill to be passed and that our Women will get the much-needed boost to be elected representatives in the ULBs and be part of the decision-making body for our Municipals and Towns,” Zeliang said.

He urged women not to let the issue of reservation for the post of chairperson be the bottleneck in successful implementation of the ULB Election. “With your capability and perseverance, I am sure that you will give the men a fair and tough competition for the post and there would not be any reasons why you would need reservation for the same,” he said.

Chief minister Neiphiu Rio while giving his remark on why the Bill should be passed said, “This law, which we are going to have, is not the end, but only a beginning. The time has come for the women folk to participate and perform in the administration of the urban local bodies, and I hope that in a short time, we will see positive and meaningful results”.

Besides highlighting the chronology of the contentious Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001 which was repealed in March this year, Rio narrated how the state legislative Assembly assigned a Select Committee of the house consisting of seven members headed by Zeliang to examine a new Bill.

“While agreeing to all the provisions of the Bill, in the interest of our people as well as make the proposed Act even more efficacious, (the Committee) has recommended for incorporation of certain more clauses in the Bill. It has been recommended to make only the indigenous inhabitant of the State eligible for becoming a member of any Municipal or Town Council, and also that the Municipal Act should be reviewed periodically after every 10 years, which was also the view of many of our CSOs. In the latest Nagaland Municipal Bill, 2023, which has been introduced today we have incorporated these recommendations of the Select Committee,” he said.

The people of Nagaland, he said, have traversed a long and chequered path in reaching where they stand today. “The objection to ULB elections unfortunately became a matter concerning our customary practices, and in this journey, we were sandwiched between the voice of the people who elected us and the mandate of the Constitution which has to be complied. Our topmost priority, however, always remained to ensure that our issues are amicably sorted out through peaceful means and without violence. And to a great extent, we have succeeded in our venture,” the CM said.

While recounting this difficult journey, he said that the state owes the judges of the Supreme Court who heard cases filed in the apex court in this regard and understood the difficulties faced by the state, thereby playing a significant role in guiding the government with utmost patience to enable to reach the present stage wherein the women of Nagaland would be given representation in urban local bodies.

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“Our State may be a late starter in the process of urbanization. However, the rate of urbanization in Nagaland has been quite rapid of late. We have now 39 urban local bodies across the State. We have to provide this growing urban population the required urban infrastructure and urban amenities through local self -governments. We have lost many precious decades in negotiating for a consensus on the issue of ULBs. With the passage of the new Nagaland Municipal (Bill), 2023, let us hope that the new ULBs would be able to take the required steps to make our cities and towns better administered, more developed, more organised, more clean and more beautiful,” Rio added.

Representatives of various political parties including the Naga People’s Front (NPF), Lok Jan Shakti (LJP), National People’s Party (NPP), Janata Dal United (JDU), Nationalist Democratic Progressive People’s Party (NDPP), Bharatiya Janat Party (BJP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Republican Party of India (RPI), and independent candidates took part in the discussion.

Also Read | Nagaland Assembly unanimously repeals 2001 Municipal Act

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