RAWALPINDI, Aug 24: Under the Punjab Local Government Act 2013, the garrison city will have a metropolitan corporation and a district council replacing the current city district government Rawalpindi (CDGR) and the town municipal administrations (TMAs).
A source in the Punjab government told Dawn that the Act, signed by Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar on August 23, was to be implemented from September 1 but it would not be possible until the local government elections were held.
He, however, said the elections would be held soon.
Under the LGA 2013, the urban union councils of the Rawal and Potohar towns will be converted into a metropolitan corporation. The rural union councils will be run by the district council.
Two tehsils of the Rawalpindi district - Gujar Khan and Taxila - will have municipal corporations while Murree, Kotli Sattian, Kalar Syedan and Kahuta tehsils will have municipal committees.
However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the Punjab government to give special status to Murree and form the Murree Development Authority on the pattern of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to improve the condition of the hilly resort town. Under the ACT, the health and education departments will be converted into authorities.
The building planning and enforcement department will be run by an authority at the divisional level under the supervision of the commissioner.
Mayor and deputy mayor will head the metropolitan corporation and municipal corporation while the committees and the district council will be headed by chairmen and vice-chairmen.
The metropolitan corporation will comprise 200 members directly elected on the basis of single ward and adult franchise.
As many as 25 women members, 10 worker members and 10 non-Muslim members will be indirectly elected by the elected members.
The municipal corporation shall consist of members based on its population who will directly be elected on the basis of a single ward and adult franchise.
They will then indirectly elect 15 women members, five worker members, and non-Muslim members not exceeding five as the government may notify their number on the basis of the non-Muslim population.
However, the local government Act does not say anything whether the police will be under the mayor or remain under the provincial government.
The chairmanship of development authorities is also not clear.Raja Tariq Kayani, the first district nazim of Rawalpindi under Musharraf’s local government system from 2001-2005, termed the Act old wine in a new bottle.
He said the PML-N had brought back General Zia’s local bodies system with a new name in the Punjab.
“The new system is a negation of the 1973 constitution. Article 140 of the constitution clearly delegates the executive powers to the grass-roots level.
“Under the new system, however, the role of the mayor will be limited and he will only have to construct streets and nullahs as the executive powers will be used by the provincial government through the bureaucracy,” he said.
There will be also no role of public representatives in the education and health authorities,” he said.
Mr Kayani said the finance and planning departments would be looked after by the provincial government and the mayor and elected body will remain toothless. “The divide between the urban and rural areas will also increase,” he said.
On the other hand, PML-N leader and former MNA Malik Shakil Awan defended the new system and said it would improve the condition of the cities.
He said the local government would be able to provide civic facilities to the citizens. Powers will be transferred to the people at grass-roots level, he added.
When contacted, DCO Sajid Zafar told Dawn that the CDGR had so far not received any directions from the provincial government to enforce the new Act.
“In my personal opinion, the system will be changed soon after the local government elections,” he said.