Sunday, January 17, 2010

Your agenda for a better city

Your agenda for a better city
ABIDe Promises Bangaloreans The Chance To Have A Say In Governance
TEAM TOI

Bangalore: First it was a citizen corporator, now there is citizens’ agenda for the BBMP elections. This is in the form of ABIDe’s vision document — Plan Bengaluru 2020.
On Saturday, the document’s architects said that unlike other such efforts that gather dust, this one will take the city’s governance to the next level and involve the Bangalorean in more ways than one.
ABIDe convener Rajeev Chandrsekhar said: “We have nearly nine million people in the city striving for basic amenities. As somebody said, it is urban chaos. Imagine this: in 2020, there
will be nearly 16 million people and the same amount of space. That will be urban anarchy! This document was prepared to have a vision for governance in the near future.”
Joining him was R K Misra. “We want this to be a baseline document. If there is no such paper for people to debate, what really is development? There would be no measure. Though the contents are not carved in stone, people can argue and change the way the system runs. For example, Varthur lake is full of weeds and can be potentially turned into a water resource. But there is no clear idea about who should take it up. The lake is under minor irrigation department while the land is in BBMP limits; BWSSB is in charge of water supply. So there is no clear consensus. The vision document has outlined the role of each authority in such a scenario,” he said.
The CM’s adviser on urban affairs, A Ravindra, said bringing in reforms is a difficult process in urban planning. “Sometimes, it takes more than 10 years to bring in a change.”
Ashwin Mahesh and R K Misra emphasized on the need for empowering citizens in every sphere of development. The document is said to be a window for citizens to engage themselves in governance. A campaign will soon be launched whereby every RWA, MLA and MP associated with the city will get a copy to spread the word among citizens.
HAVE A SAY IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD
The last decade saw the city growing at breakneck speed, as a result of which there are an increasing number of concerns today. Where will Bangalore be ten years down the line? TOI Guests — adviser to CM on urban affairs A Ravindra, and ABIDe members Rajeev Chandrasekhar, R K Misra and Ashwin Mahesh — debated on the agenda for Bangalore and challenges ahead in implementation of Abide’s vision document, Plan Bengaluru 2020.
COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The CDP is predominantly a land-use plan concerning building violations. As a citizen, my requirements from the government are public services like water, sanitation, transport and maintenance of law & order. We are not casting aspersions on anyone, but there are issues like increasing the capacity of crematoria. Plan Bengaluru is comprehensive and covers all aspects
Rajeev Chandrasekhar
The BDA has a statutory function to prepare the CDP. It is operational and basically a land-use plan. The last masterplan was better conceived
A Ravindra
The master plan doesn’t account for local variability. It has set the laws, but in reality there are around 700 thousand buildings and 20,000 roads violating the law. The system must address this
Ashwin Mahesh
The CDP is cast in stone. This plan will be a document that can be debated on by the people
R K Misra BENGALURU REGION GOVERNANCE ACT, 2009
The act will legally create a fremework for RWAs and residents to involve in policy-making. The vision of Plan Bengaluru 2020 stands on two things — citizen-centric governance and transparency. The BRGA will help achieve both. Each neighbourhood will have a committee and the right to approve or disapprove of issues that impact them. They can in turn approach ward committees. This vision document is an integrated roadmap. RWAs who are members of ward committees can instruct the pace and quality of developmental work. As a citizen, one need not be a mute spectator
Rajeev Chandrashekhar
It ensures what kind of neighbourhood you are in and helps give power back to citizens to decide whether they want a certain project
R K Misra
What Bangalore needs is a separate Act. The state should play a predominantly central role and power has to flow down to local bodies. Most state-level decisions are not in consultation with people. So we see protests against projects
A Ravindra WHAT ABOUT AKRAMA SAKRAMA?
I am told several houses violate the law. If the building is in violation of zoning rules, either we should give housing credit or regularize it. But the sole criterion should be that the owner is poor. There should be an adequate framework that does not allow these things to be repeated.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar
For 15 years, successive governments are trying to implement this scheme under different names. In the process, we have allowed the process to go on for years. I have told the BDA that instead of obtaining thousands of acres and disbursing it for layouts that don’t have basic amenities, they should look at developing integrated townships
A Ravindra
FIXED TERM FOR MAYOR
There could be a directly-elected mayor for a five-year term. Alternatively, a mayor-in-council could be appointed for a 5-year term, drawn from non-elected specialists and elected corporators
A Ravindra WHY HE QUIT ABIDe AND THEN REJOINED?
We all joined hands in 2008 to make Bangalore better. In the CM’s words, “Bengaluru has the potential to become the No. 1 city in India and an internationally prominent metropolis. To make this possible, we need to adopt a new urban planning model, upgrade infrastructure, improve social facilities and create a better environment for good quality of life. In other words, we must reinvent Bengaluru.” We had come for comprehensive development, but couldn’t do it because of certain limitations. There are volunteers doing work for the city and we have spent nearly Rs 1.2 crore on our own. Every time we submit recommendations, nothing was happening despite the CM himself approving them. That was frustrating. Now, the CM has assured he is committed to take our recommendations forward. As an entrepreneur, I know reforms are never easy and no change is unopposed. What was not sure was commitment to the vision. Now that the CM has promised that, we will take this forward.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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