Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Whose pick will it be – Govt’s or citizen’s?

Whose pick will it be – Govt’s or citizen’s?
Deccan Herald

Ward committees may not have been much of a success as a tool of local governance in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, but the reduced number of elected representatives under the proposed Greater Bangalore dispensation, could eventually mean that the members of these committees too will to be elected and not nominated.

Greater Bangalore, which has been making much news in terms of the expansion of the administrative unit, presents a strange case as far as elected representatives go. Their number will dwindle by more than half.

348 representatives

The 100 corporators of the BMP and their counterparts in the seven CMCs and one TMC currently account for 348 elected representatives in the 741-sq-km area that will make up Greater Bangalore.

Add the gram panchayat members from the 111 villages that will also become part of GB, and you get an idea of the mix of electees and nominees in the present setup (see inset box).

The State Government has said the number of GB wards will be about 150. It means 150 corporators. Interestingly, Governor T N Chaturvedi has questioned the basis for pegging the number of wards at 150; he has sent back the bill where the government has sought to amend the KMC Act and increase the maximum number of wards a city corporation can have from 100 to 150.

Making amends

A senior officer involved in the Greater Bangalore exercise told Deccan Herald recently that one way of making up for reduced number of elected representatives would be to go in for election of ward committee (WC) members, who are currently nominated by the government.

Corporators of the recently defunct Bangalore Mahanagara Palike council this reporter spoke to, however, don’t think much of the fall in number.

The ward size will increase and that means more funds and more power in the hands of a corporator, is their way of looking at things. It is also noted that though the corporators’ number will go down, the ongoing delimitation of Assembly and parliamentary constituencies will increase the number of MLAs and MPs from the City area.


What is a ward committee (WC)? What did it mean to BMP?

A WC is mandated as per the 74th amendment to the Constitution. A cluster of three or four wards will makes one WC area (30 in the BMP). Corporators of these wards, besides seven others nominated by the government from among the area’s electorate, are its members.

Of the seven nominated members, five are “prominent citizens in their individual capacity” and two NGO representatives. The members shall elect one of their corporators as chairman; the jurisdictional Assistant Revenue Officer is their executive head.

The committee has no financial power though it is expected to keep a tab on civic issues and guide the civil works in the area.

Former mayor P R Ramesh whose area was known for its active WC (the Basavanagudi one) feels these committees help in micro-level redress of civic problems.

The local officials concerned with water supply, electricity, health, education, engineering, welfare etc, all attend the monthly meetings; the expertise and knowledge the WC members bring in gives a focus to local development works, he says.

Mr B R Nanjundappa, JD(S) leader in the last BMP council, notes that WCs were misused by the ruling party to ‘harass’ corporators of the Opposition. “Though the rules say that the government shall nominate prominent citizens as members, a ruling party will generally nominate its local workers. In some instances, WC members have even gotten away with posing themselves as corporators,” he says.


Post a Comment

<< Home