Saturday, March 27, 2010

No clarity on residents' involvement

No clarity on residents' involvement

Manifestoes fail to spell out the commitment to give them an active role in decision making

Thanks to the active role being played by various residents' welfare associations in taking up civic issues with the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, there is need for a structural change in urban governance.
All the political parties had promised an active role for local residents in planning for the development of their respective areas. But the manifestoes have not reflected that commitment in full force.
All that the BJP manifesto says is bringing the Bangalore Regional Governance Act for giving a new dimension to the BBMP's role. The party has plans to provide day-to-day civic administrative services like issuance of birth and death certificates, various licences and their renewal online. JD(S) lays more importance for eradicating corruption in the BBMP, but without explaining the measures.
Bringing offices of all the civic agencies such as BWSSB and BESCOM in one office building in all the assembly constituencies in Bangalore will go a long way in reducing the hassles for the citizens to get their grievances redressed. This plan finds mention in JD(S) manifesto for better governance.
But Congress scores over its rivals as it commits to implement the 74th amendment of the Constitution in letter and spirit. "Every Congress corporator will involve residents' welfare associations and civic groups in ward-level committees and in decision making. Public consultation will be mandatory before commencement of new projects."
Area sabhas will partner with the BBMP in enabling 100% property tax collection, highlighting the vacant and encroached government property. As far as fighting corruption is concerned, Congress promises public access to information about all projects and people's participation to oversee development works. The party's detailing on the issue also includes ward-level monthly meetings with officials to ascertain citizens' views and resolve their problems.
The plan to set up a single helpline anchored to the BBMP to enable residents to solve their problems easily is attractive. But the efficiency of the helplines set up for tackling monsoon fury do not evoke much optimism about the effective implementation of such citizen-friendly programmes.


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