Government officials appointed as administrators of local bodies in the province have decided to focus on ensuring the sanitation, drinking water and road maintenance facilities at the initial stage.
The administrators have received briefings on the financial matters as well as ongoing and planned projects of the institutions after taking their charge following the expiry of the tenure of the elected representatives. They were informed about the available funds, amount payable, ongoing development work and planned projects in their jurisdiction.
The officials serving as administrators in most of the districts reportedly decided to focus on the sanitation, water supply, street light and road repair services. The facilities were affected n several areas because of the suspension of the local bodies before they were restored on court orders.
The deputy commissioners have taken charge as administrators of local bodies at the district level, while additional deputy commissioners are fulfilling the responsibility in the tehsils till the next elections. The chief minister approved a summary submitted by the local government department in this regard. Officials said the divisional commissioners would play a supervisory role regarding the system. Assistant commissioners and officials of the provincial local government department will also serve as administrators of municipal committees and union councils.
Punjab Local Government Secretary Noorul Amin Mengal said the local bodies administrators appointed across Punjab had taken up their responsibilities.
The Punjab government has reportedly completed preparations for holding local body elections after the local government system in the province completed its term after remaining in place for 28 months instead of five years.
The Election Commission has also issued a schedule for delimitation of the constituencies for the elections.
The previous provincial government held the elections in January 2017 under the Local Government Act 2013, in which mayors, deputy mayors, as well as chairpersons, vice chairpersons and members of union councils were elected but the councilors protested over not being given powers.
The PTI government dissolved the local bodies in May 2019 and enacted a new law in which the system was based on the tehsil level instead of districts, like Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. However, the system could not be implemented due to shortcomings and the province was left without a local government system.
A large number of mayors and nazims fought a case in the high court and then the Supreme Court for the restoration of local bodies. The Supreme Court restored all local bodies under the Local Government Act 2019 on October 17, 2021, after which all the elected representatives took up their responsibilities but complained of lack of powers.
December 31 was the last day of the term of the local body representatives.
Lahore’s former mayor Mubashir Javed alleged that government policies and political interference had prevented the elected representatives from working. He said the local bodies were restored on the orders of the Supreme Court.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2022.