New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the state of Jharkhand on a plea seeking establishment of an elected municipal body in Jamshedpur, in accordance with the Constitution.
The Constitution, under Article 243 Q, provides for the establishment of a municipality in each city unless the state government decides to declare it as an industrial township. Jamshedpur, till date, has neither been declared as an industrial township, nor does it have a municipal body. The city is administered by a notified area committee, which consists of members nominated by the state government.
Counsel appearing for the petitioner, Prashant Bhushan, argued that a municipal corporation should be established in Jamshedpur as mandated under the Constitution and that the Tata Steel could not be allowed to exercise any control over the city.
The petitioner argued that an industrial township is always made for a small place and Jamshedpur, being the largest and most populated city in Jharkhand, would not qualify as one.
The state government, by colluding with “an industrial house", is refusing to establish a municipality, adversely affecting the lives of the people at local level, the petition claims.
“Because of the non establishment of municipality in Jamshedpur, basic services such as primary education, health, sanitation, water supply, solid waste management, and other public necessities like road, parks are the responsibility of an unelected, unaccountable bureaucratic industrial establishment, which is affecting the rights of the people," the petition states.
Counsel appearing for Tata Steel, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, submitted that Jamshedpur was one of the most well maintained cities in India and sought the status of an industrial township for it.
In 1924, 15,725 acres in Jamshedpur was acquired by Tata Steel for setting up a steel plant. Subsequently, in 1984, an agreement was entered into between the state government and Tata Steel for the entire township (excluding some pockets of agricultural lands) putting a duty on Tata Steel to provide civic services to the residents of Jamshedpur.