CM directs NIT to re-start process of merger

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Jan 2019 13:06:02


Staff Reporter,

Fadnavis directs authorities to file appropriate application before HC to vacate the stay granted to merger of NIT into NMC

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has directed top officers of Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) to move the High Court to vacate the stay granted by Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court to the merger of NIT into Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC).  Chief Minister was addressing a meeting of top-officers of the State Government while reviewing progress of Nagpur Metropolitan Region Development Authority (NMRDA) at Mantralaya.

Directing officials to start process of merger and vacating the stay, Fadnavis said, NIT officer should take help of Law Officers to urge court to give permission to State Government for the merger of NIT with NMC.

After hearing the case, High Court had stayed merger of NIT in NMC. The court while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a social activist Satyavrat alias Mannu Dutta opposing scrapping of NIT had also asked NIT to submit its audited balance sheet till financial year 2015-2016. In its order dated October 10, the High Court had noted that there was no clarity about transfer of completed projects, funding of incomplete works, division of assets and liabilities.

The Government had taken a decision to scrap NIT and merge it with NMC under section 121(2) of NIT Act. On December 27, 2016, State Cabinet decided to abolish NIT and transfer all the powers to NMC. The process of ‘merger’ of NIT into NMC was to be completed by December 31, 2017. A committee headed by Principal Secretary was appointed for  the purpose. However, this process had been delayed due to several technical and administrative glitches. Later, High Court stayed the entire process.
Reviewing the situation, Chief Minister also directed NIT Administration to give option of joining NMC or NMRDA to officers and employees of NIT. The Trust will prepare a policy regarding transfer of the staffers.

Later, Fadnavis also directed NIT to handover undeveloped layouts to NMC. He said, NMC should shoulder responsibility of undeveloped layouts. The civic body is collecting property tax from these layouts, therefore, they should carry out maintenance work over there. Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule, UPS Madan, Additional Chief Secretary of Finance Department, Dr Nitin Kareer, Principal Secretary of Urban Development Department, Abhijit Bangar, Municipal Commissioner, P Anbalagan, Dr Brijesh Dixit, Managing Director of Nagpur Metro, Sheetal Ugale, NIT Chairperson were present in the meeting.

Why HC stayed the merger ?

The High Court had noted that dissolution of NIT was ordered under section 121(2) of the Nagpur Improvement Trust Act, 1936 on December 27, 2016. This statute empowers the State Government to take decision when all schemes sanctioned under NIT Act of 1936, are either executed or then their execution has reached a stage where involvement of NIT as Planning Authority is not necessary. The High Court observed that the NIT was still in the process of developing the schemes as directed by the State Government.

The State Government argued that the decision was taken because of various complaints of mal­administration by the NIT. Besides, the State intended to have only one Planning Authority for the entire Nagpur City.
However, to the probing questions asked by the High Court about completion schemes by NIT and not furnishing audited balancesheets, the State and NIT could not give any satisfactory response. The High Court while continuing its stay to merge noted that State will have to answer to the ingredients of section 121(1) of NIT Act before dissolving it.

The High Court had made it clear that it was not doubting the cabinet decision and intention behind such a decision and admitted the matter for final hearing. However, the High Court permitted State Government to take a fresh decision on need of dissolution, if it so desires.