Thursday, December 10, 2009

4 IDEAS FOR BETTER CITY

4 IDEAS FOR BETTER CITY
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION REMAINS ON PAPER. WILL THINGS CHANGE?

1 DIRECTLY ELECTED MAYOR
All major cities have strong local government. Indeed, some are known because of their mayors In diverse cities, it is important to have a central figure cutting across community boundaries Being elected by all of the people will give him the necessary political capital to set new directions whenever needed A direct election will allow independent strong candidates also to emerge, not just party hacks 2 A MORE EMPOWERED MAYOR
It’s impossible to deliver value on economic and social fronts without the necessary authority The constitution requires a clear separation of roles between state and local governments At present, corporators act like administrative leaders because the true administrative leader (mayor) is a decoration Unifying different actions of the city agencies is necessary to deliver results, but they cannot be unified if their leadership is not single-point 3 METROPOLITAN COMMITTEE
Required under the 74th Amendment, the state has delayed this for too long Unified planning body is necessary to avoid chaos. Currently, too many different agencies are pursuing their plans in silos Allows experts also to come on board (since 1/6 of the MPC can be domain experts in various fields) Allows regional vision to develop (since the MPC is drawn from the entire metropolitan region, not just BBMP) 4 ELECTED WARD COMMITTEES
Citizen participation must be as granular as possible. In small towns there is one corporator for 3,000 people, but in Bangalore it is 1:35,000 At very local levels, the money power in politics can be diminished, and good candidates can emerge based on their community service roles
Appointed members skew the people’s choice — in a ward there might be a Congress corporator, but all his committee members will be BJP if appointed by the state These Proposals Are Before The Cabinet Sub-committee For Approval. Will They Take Shape Soon?
It could well be a dream come true for Bangaloreans. A directly elected mayor for five years, a regional authority with a broader jurisdiction for a growing city — one that will bring all crucial civic bodies onto a single platform and citizens on ward committees to decide on their area’s problems and empowered to recall their elected representatives if they don’t deliver on their promises.
All this, only if the four proposals on the BBMP (currently being re-examined by a cabinet sub-committee for the final time as part of the broader Bengaluru Regional Governance Bill) get the cabinet nod and finally become law.
A three-year battle for the local elections may have ended with the recent announcement of the poll date.
LONGER BATTLE AHEAD
But, there’s a longer battle on a larger battlefield. The big question: Will we finally see these promises on paper — in action before the BBMP elections scheduled for February 21?
The voters of Namma Bengaluru have had a long wait for these provisions ever since the 74th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992.
A number of reports later (the last being this Bill that will be examined by yet another committee), ABIDe and another 8-10 months in the making. Till date, the concept of citizen participation is only on paper.
According to urban experts, even the earlier K Kasturirangan report did not have a mechanism in place for citizen participation though it spoke a lot on this subject. This is an important aspect. Even the much-required urban equivalent of the gram sabhas at the lowest level of the three-tier pyramid structure of local governance was missing.

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