Maharashtra’s Housing societies in a fix over reserving posts
Co-operative housing societies are baulking at new government rules which require them to conduct elections under a state body’s direction and reserve some posts in their managing committees for members from disadvantaged social classes.
The rules, which were introduced in 2014 but are being enforced strictly only now, are applicable to societies with less than 200 members. Such societies are categorised as D-Class.
Many residents Mirror spoke to said their societies barely had enough members in the general category to fill committees, leave alone appointing people for the reserved categories.
“These rules are impractical. They were drafted for sugar co-operative societies. How can the government apply them to small housing societies?” said Nitin Gadekar, a resident of Sukh Nivas on 17th Road, Khar West. “Not every society has members from underprivileged classes. So what should they do in that case?”
There are 30,447 D-Class societies in Mumbai. The changes introduced under the Maharashtra Co-Operative Societies Act, 1960, require them to have a managing committee with a strength of 11. Two posts will be reserved for women and three for members from disadvantaged classes such as Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It is mandatory for the colonies to conduct polls under the supervision of the Pune-based State Co-operative Election Authority. Also, the office-bearers will have to undergo training to understand the workings of a co-operative society.
“We are a small society with only 15 members and we will have to call a high-ranking official from Pune to conduct elections. This is ridiculous,” Gadekar said. “There is no clarity on how election training will be conducted. Most societies are not even aware of the changes.”
The State Co-operative Election Authority has roped in the Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association to organise training and guidance camps.
Rakesh Nangia of Khar Modern CHS said his society had only five active members and it would find it hard to comply with the new rules. “One member sold his property and a tenant has been staying there for the past 60 years. There is nobody to run the society,” he said.
Akash Bhatia of Anjali CHS in Mahim said the colony mostly had female members in their eighties and they cannot contest elections.
Myra Lewis from Parmeshwar Darshan CHS on 2nd Hasnabad Road, Santacruz, said being an East Indian, she had filed her nomination as an OBC candidate. “But we don’t have any SC/ST candidates and we won’t be able to fill up that vacancy,” she said.
Mahendra Mhaske, district deputy registrar III, said if societies didn’t have members from the reserved categories, the corresponding positions in the managing committees would remain vacant. “Society representatives will have to undergo training. It’s compulsory. They should be aware of all the provisions of the Maharashtra Co-operative Societies Act, and the duties,” he said.
He added that D-Class housing societies would have to submit their voter lists to the respective ward officer.