Protest against Ward Committee and Area Sabha Act and Rules-Wed,26th Nov,10.30AM-1PM, Town Hall,Bengaluru

by CIVIC, Bengaluru

A CALL FOR PEOPLE’S GOVERNANCE IN KARNATAKA’S CITIES
Protest against the KMC (Amdt.) Act and newly gazetted rules on Ward Committees & Area Sabhas led by respected Gandhian & Freedom Fighter Sri H. S. Doreswamy
Venue: Town Hall, Bangalore
Date & Time: Wednesday, 26th November 2014, 10:30 am – 1pm

The 74th Constitutional Amendment, promising devolution of powers in urban areas, was enacted over 20 years ago. Yet ‘Nagara Swaraj’ is a far dream, with even community participation in urban affairs yet to be achieved. Karnataka’s urban citizens have no say in how government services should be provided in their ward, which roads should be repaired, how lakes should be protected or even how their garbage should be managed! The unconstitutional manner in which cities are being administered has resulted in multiple scams, mis-governance and dysfunctional cities.

It was hoped that the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act of January 2011, brought in to fulfil conditionality under JNNURM, would strengthen community participation in urban areas. However, rules were framed for the Act only after the High Court Directive in December 2012 (while hearing a PIL on the garbage crisis). These rules created ward committees in name only without any real powers. Pressure from civil society led to a public meeting where the government was advised to re-draft the KMC Act itself, as is being done with the Panchayati Raj Act in Karnataka. Shri. Vinay Kumar Sorake, Hon’ble Minister for Urban Development, gave assurances at this meeting that the undemocratic aspects of the Act, such as the veto power for Corporators, would be addressed. Following this, numerous meetings were held with the Secretary, Urban Development, and recommendations were sent in from across the state to revise the rules so that the functioning of ward committees could be improved within the ambit of the Act.

Inspite of all this, the new draft rules gazetted on November 10th, 2014 have not incorporated any of the recommendations from the public and continue to define a ward committee with no powers, no meaningful responsibilities and no true representation. Ward committee members will be nominated by Corporators, are not accountable to area sabhas under them and risk having all their decisions vetoed by the Corporator.

Specific demands:

  • We demand that a committee be set up to go into the entire gamut of issues related to implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment in its true spirit, to devolve powers and make transparency, accountability and people’s participation effective.
  • Veto power of the corporator should be removed as it makes the concept of people’s participation meaningless. This provision does not exist in the laws of any other state.
  • The Area Sabha Representative (ASR) should be elected on a non-party basis by the area sabha.
  • The ASR should be a member of the Ward Committee and represent his/her area.
  • Ward committees should be given 40% of BBMP budget as untied funds to utilise as per their priorities
  • A periodic, time-bound and public grievance redressal system should be in place at the ward level. ________________________________________________________________________________
    Supporting organisations: Abhyudaya Foundation, BRACE, Citizens’ Action Forum (CAF), CIVIC, Environment Support Group (ESG), Eeshanya Maha Vedike (Federation of NERWA), FORWARD Hebbal, Koogu Mahila Okkuta, Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF), Society for People’s Action for Development (SPAD), VV Nagar Abhyudaya and several other prominent individuals.
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