KARACHI - The mayors of metropolitan corporations have been given more power than district chairman in the new governance law for Sindh.
In the Sindh People’s Local Government Ordinance 2012, a copy of which is available with this paper, the chairmanship of development authorities has been handed over to the mayors.
As far as Karachi is concerned, the ordinance details, the mayor of the relevant metropolitan corporation would be the chairman of the Malir Development Authority, Lyari Development Authority and Hyderabad Development Authority, while the mayor of the metropolitan corporation of Karachi would be the chairman of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.
According to the new law, if the performance of any officer is not satisfactory, the mayor/district chairman of the respective corporation and the council may request provincial government for his transfer in writing. Furthermore, the law sets out that the countersigning officer for officers in BS-19 and above shall be the chief minister.
The members of a union council and union committee, including union chairman and vice-chairman, shall be elected through direct elections, based on adult franchise and on the basis of joint electorate.
The electoral college for the election of mayor and deputy mayor, chairman and vice-chairman of the district council would be those members elected on reserved seats of women, peasants and workers, and minorities in the metropolitan council. The candidates for the seats of councils would, before the election to such office, make public a manifesto containing the policies and programmes they propose to pursue and implement, if elected. The elections to the local councils would be held after every four years.
Regarding functions and powers of council in a metropolitan corporation, the council in a metropolitan corporation would perform the same functions and exercise the same powers as assigned to district council under section 39, and would also perform the functions and exercise the powers includes to prepare master plans, approve zoning, land use plans including reclassification of land, environment control, urban design, urban renewal and ecological balances belonging to it. The master plans should be submitted to government for approval to review implementation of rules and bye-laws governing land use, housing, markets, zoning, environment, roads, traffic, tax, infrastructure and public utilities; to approve proposals for public transport and mass transit system, construction of expressways, flyovers, bridges, roads, under-passes and inter-town streets; to approve development schemes for beautification of areas along rivers, beaches and sea sides and to review development of integrated systems of water reservoirs, water sources, treatment plants, drainage, liquid and solid waste disposal, sanitation and other municipal services.
Regarding relations of government with the local council, the new law stated that local council would carry out its decentralised functions in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance and would collect such provincial tax or taxes within its local area.
According to new law, the chief minister may by himself or through any officer specifically authorised by him, issue directives in public interest to a mayor, or as the case may be, the chairmen of the councils for implementation.
Where the situation demands immediate action and the mayor/chairman of council fails to comply with the directions given to him under sub-section (1), the chief minister may require the chief secretary to direct the Inspector General of Police and the chief officer concerned to take such actions as the situation may necessitate. If where a grave threat to law and order exists and requires immediate action and the mayor/deputy mayor/ chairman/vice chairman willfully abstains from the district, government may authorize, in writing, the senior most presiding officer of the council, to act as officiating mayor/chairman.
According to the ordinance, if the Provincial Local Government Commission is of the opinion that suspension of a mayor is necessary for the fair conduct of inquiry under clause (b) of sub-section (1) or preventing that mayor from continuing with any unlawful activity during the pendency of inquiry, it may recommend to the chief minister for making appropriate order for suspension of such mayor for a maximum period of 90 days.
If a mayor, deputy mayor or a member of a council is found guilty of misconduct by the Provincial Local Government Commission, it shall call for appropriate action, including his removal, to the chief minister.
The provision of district mushavirat (advisory) committee has been incorporated in the new law, which would be constituted consisting of the district mayor, deputy district mayor and all taluka mayors and town mayors in the district. The District mayor would be the chairman of the district mushavirat committee and the chief officer would act as its secretary. The district mushavirat committee would meet at least once in every three months or as and when called into meeting by the district mayor or on the request of any two members of the committee.
The functions of the district mushavirat committee would be to crystallise vision for integrated development of the district; to prioritise and co-ordinate inter-taluka development plans, to resolve intra-district disputes; to muster resources for crisis management and to set directions for realising economic potential of the district. According the new ordinance, no suit, prosecution, or other legal proceedings would lie against any public servant serving in local councils for anything done in good faith under this ordinance.