VMRDA including scheduled areas under its purview is illegal, says former bureaucrat

‘Some of the villages have already been proposed to be brought under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution’

The way in which VMRDA (Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority) proceeding to include scheduled areas in the district under its purview is illegal and unconstitutional, said former Union Energy Secretary E.A.S. Sarma here on Thursday.

He said that some of the villages have already been proposed to be brought under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. He said the manner in which the VMRDA has been constituted, is violative of the provisions of Article 243ZE of the Constitution, as it has no representation from among the locally elected legislators. It should therefore be deemed to have no legal authority to take up regional planning exercises, he said.

Mr. Sarma has already written a letter to the Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma on the issue. He said that the VMRDA’s proposal to include the villages also violates both the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act and the Forest Rights Act, under which the local tribal Gram Sabhas have a special role in decision making on all matters that impinge on the lives of the local tribals.

In such matters, the Governor and the President, who have been bestowed with a special responsibility, ought to have been informed prior to issuing these notifications, he said.

Mr. Sarma said that Para 4 of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution requires that all such matters that concern the tribals shall be placed before the TAC (Tribal Advisory Committee) for their consideration. This provision also has been ignored by the State Municipal Administration and Urban Development and the VMRDA in processing the proposal, he alleged.

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