The state government’s decision to set up a co-operative election authority will be a relief for about 32,000 co-operative bodies, including housing societies, which have not held elections since 2011.
This election authority shall be on lines of an election commission for co-operative bodies and it will supervise, control and conduct polls to all registered co-operative societies, including housing societies, banks, credit societies and milk federations, barring exceptions like societies with less than 100 members.
This is being done according to the 97th Constitutional amendment. Though the state had amended the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, 1960, and notified the authority in March, it had not set up the authority so far. However, on Friday, the state government approved 44 posts for the state election authority, which is expected to come into being soon. The body will also get a state co-operative election commissioner, who shall be a retired IAS officer not below the rank of a secretary.
As on March 31, 2012, Maharashtra had around 2.28 lakh co-operative societies with around 5.25 crore members, including 88,472 co-operative housing societies with 23.11 lakh members.
According to an economic survey, the state also has 25,437 co-operative dairy societies, 15,004 urban co-operative credit societies, 526 urban banks, 21,443 primary agricultural credit societies and 202 sugar co-operatives.
“After the amendment to the Act, the registrar of co-operative societies could not conduct elections to co-operative bodies as it was the mandate of the election authority. Moreover, in April 2011, the state had postponed elections to some co-operative bodies due to factors like drought in some areas of Maharashtra,” said a senior co-operation department official. He added elections for some co-operative bodies had not been held for over two years.
Another official said elections to around 32,000 co-operatives, including around 12,000 housing societies had been delayed. He added that even if the body with the commissioner was in place by the second week of November, the department hoped to finish the polls by January second week.
It would take around 30 days to conduct elections to a co-operative society. The official rued that states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were way ahead in setting up the authority.
The amendment also restricts the maximum number of members of the committee to 21. It also reserves seats for women and the weaker sections.
Talk of the ballot
This election authority shall be on lines of an election commission for co-operative bodies
It will supervise, control and conduct polls to all registered co-operative societies, including housing societies, banks etc.