Bengaluru citizens raise issues plaguing the city, set agenda for political parties

Panel discussions on lake protection and civic amenity sites, neighbourhood and citizens’ voice, and city and infrastructure were held.
Bengaluru citizens raise issues plaguing the city, set agenda for political parties
Bengaluru citizens raise issues plaguing the city, set agenda for political parties
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“I’m not here as a politician. I’m here as a Bengalurean,” said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, BJP MP at the ‘Citizens Agenda for Bengaluru’ event which was held in the city on Saturday morning. Hosted by the Namma Bengaluru Foundation, key issues were discussed through three different panel discussions involving citizens and activists.

The discussions reiterated the importance of citizen participation to improve the state of affairs in the city.

Rajeev urged citizens to change their approach from pleading to confrontational while dealing with policymakers.

“Institutions that must take care of problems have been corroded and compromised. Keeping the 74th Amendment in mind, one must think about how to assert these rights. We must aim at governance defined by the citizens and accountability to the citizens,” he added.

The three panel discussions were on Lake Protection and Civic Amenity Sites, Neighbourhood and Citizens’ Voice, and City and Infrastructure. Activists and citizens voiced their concerns and provided solutions to the problems that the city is facing, setting an agenda for the next government.

Lake protection and civic amenity sites

Panellists spoke about the sacrifice that the city has made of its 835 lakes in the name of development. The encroachment of various lake beds in the city was also discussed. Speakers lamented that the current state of the lakes is due to the lack of coordination between different parastatal agencies. According to the Koliwad Committee report, close to 20% of lake land has been encroached.  

“Lakes are seen as a luxury spot, which is a very elitist urban idea. Nobody talks about how they are helpful in flood mitigation and groundwater recharge,” said Ramprasad of Friends of Lakes. Speaking of the misgovernance with regard to lakes, he criticised the government’s decision to repeal the KLDCA Act and grant full responsibility to the KTDCA as it allows roads and bridges to be built if the original capacity of the lake is not reduced. Moreover, KTDCA is headed by the Chief Minister and the Minister of Irrigation, who are not very accessible, he claimed, thus making it difficult to pose complaints.

Sharachandra Lele of ATREE said that the first demand of citizens should be to democratise the usage of water. Vijayan Menon of Citizens’ Action Forum insisted on the importance of a formal citizen group to look after each lake.

Rainwater harvesting, treatment and reuse of water are two other solutions that were proposed.

 Neighbourhoods and citizens’ voice

Commercialisation of residential areas was the main focus of this discussion as the rise of pubs and eateries in close proximity to houses is disrupting residents’ sleep.

The 74th Amendment guarantees citizen participation in the development of the city and Ward Committees are formed for the same purpose.

“It is non-functional and with regard to making an amendment to the Ward Committee Act, veto power that has been given to the council has to be removed,” said Ravindranath Guru of Consumer Care Society. Membership to the committee has to be through selection and not nomination, he further added.

Law and order issues were also discussed with women and children’s safety being a huge concern. The police response mechanism in the case of these two issues is very unsettling, they claimed.

City and infrastructure

The problem of urban transport, water woes and the depletion of forest areas, especially in the Bannerghatta National Park, were the issues that were raised.

The dilution of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority by the present government was criticised heavily as home buyers have become vulnerable sufferers, the panellists alleged. The failure in managing waste efficiently was raised and the negligence when it comes to sewage line replacement was also brought up.

Sanjeev Dyamannavar of Praja RAAG said the Unified Metro Political Transport Authority, which will take care of the problems of all transport agencies including BMTC, Metro and autos among others, must start operating for the mobility to improve. He also emphasised the importance of the suburban railways project which isn’t getting a lot of support from the bureaucracy currently.   

The event gave a platform for these issues to be raised and for people to discuss the possible solutions and help set an agenda for the new government.

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