Friday, December 22, 2006

Bruhat Bengalooru - will it respond to citizens?

Bruhat Bengalooru - will it respond to citizens?
The notification on Bruhat Bengalooru does not make clear to the public how the current ills in the functioning of Bangalore Mahanagar Palike (BMP) will get solved by the formation of Bruhat Bengalooru (BB).
Deccan Herald

Centralised decision-making and lack of citizen participation are the banes of BMP. Unless legislative, institutional, financial and procedural measures are taken to strengthen local self-government by decentralising further to ward level, as envisaged in the 74th Constitutional Amendment (CA), BB will in fact be a retrograde step.

Planning under the 74th CA is a function of the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), which is to be set up with elected representatives from the various tiers of the local self-government. But this has not been set up at all in a gross violation of the Constitution for the last 12 years.

The MPC lays stress on planning by elected representatives. But currently, planning for Bangalore is undertaken by bureaucrats of various unco-ordinated parastatals such as BDA, BWSSB, etc., accountable to the State government, and not to the local self-government, which is anomalous.

Currently, the CMCs and TMCs are democratically elected bodies with control over decision-making, local assets and funds. On merger, these areas will lose their autonomy if they are going to be replaced by nominated ward committees currently existing in the BMP area. These ward committees in BMP are undemocratic, unrepresentative, dysfunctional bodies, with weak decision-making powers and no funds.

Also, the CMCs and TMC currently have one elected representative for a few thousand people, and in panchayats this ratio is about 1: 500. As against this, the ratio of citizen:elected representative in the BMP is about 1: 50,000. This is being further diluted in BB by fixing the number of elected representatives at 150 for a population of about eight million. After merger, the CMCs and panchayats will hence lose the proximity they currently enjoy to their elected representatives.

A reasonable ratio of about one elected representative for every 5,000 population or less needs to be fixed in BB after merger. About ten such representatives could form an elected ward committee for each ward of about 50,000 population or less, on the lines of gram panchayats, replacing the current discredited ward committees.

Currently there are no legally institutionalised measures in BMP for periodic, formal interaction of officials and elected representatives with citizens to ensure transparency and accountability. Measures such as periodic ward sabhas or sub-ward sabhas for the planning, implementation, monitoring and social auditing of works will have to be introduced in BB to bring about downward accountability of officials and elected representatives to citizens at ward level.

A single head of BB and a handful of Commissioners at zonal level will not be able to do this. Such interactions at zonal and city level will also need to be institutionalised for more participation at zonal and city-level decision-making.

Sub-committees of the ward committees at ward level, on issues such as solid waste management, ward works, etc., with participation of ordinary citizens and other stakeholders will need to be set up to provide avenues for people’s direct participation and sense of ownership in their city.

There is a need to convert BBMP into an agency of development and not mere service delivery, but those details are beyond the scope of this write-up.

Kathyayini Chamaraj

Executive Trustee,

CIVIC Bangalore


Works fine as an idea

There is no doubt that Greater Bangalore will bring together the fringes of the City and as a concept, will help streamline the development of the City. However, the sheer volume of work involved might make the concept unwieldy. The allotment of funds, recruitment of personnel, division of work, everything is going to be an issue.

The administrators should first look at improving the situation in the City, before taking up grand plans. There was the proposal to display details and progress of every infrastructure project taken up in the City. Whatever happened to that? There should have been a meeting with all residents associations to get their feedback on GB.

T R P Naidu

Secretary

R T Nagar Residents Welfare Association



Bangalore, over Greater Bangalore

The idea - of developing Greater Bangalore - is indeed welcome. However, the move will work as a whole, only if the administrators are able to straighten out the problems that affect the core areas of the City. Officials who travel abroad to study the urban administration management in other countries come back and moot impractical ideas like road-dividers on narrow stretches. Greater Bangalore is not just about traffic, but if this is the way the administrators grapple with serious issues, I really doubt that they can do a better job in Greater Bangalore.

A Ravishankar

Sports Organising Secretary,

Jayanagar IV Block Residents Association

GB, a tough task

The idea of merging seven CMCs and one TMC with the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike is welcome. But will BBMP be able to take care of the infrastructural problems?

Last year CMCs increased the property tax in the Bytarayanapura zone – Sahakara Nagar by 300%, which is the highest tax revision by any local body in India. Though some people appealed against this, no action was taken. Besides, the land prices have skyrocketed in all the CMC areas. The common man cannot afford to buy a piece of land any more in these areas. Formation of BBMP will only further increase the land price.

S A Mohan

Sahakara Nagar

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