As the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) gears for the council polls in the coming months after the delay of two years, a survey showed that citizens were more likely to approach their local MLA rather than their ward councillor to resolve issues. A survey conducted by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy found that, while most people did not have a clue about their ward councillor or even ward committee meetings, they still believed having a councillor would improve infrastructure issues in their constituency. Only two out of the ten people remembered the last Mayorâ€™s name.
The survey was conducted between December 16, 2021, and January 2, 2022, and involved 503 respondents across eight zones and twenty-seven wards in Bengaluru. The survey also found that nearly 9 out of 10 people are unaware of ward committees, 88% have never met the ward councillor and 87% donâ€™t know about the bi-monthly meetings held by the BBMP that are attended by other civic agencies. If faced with any civic or infrastructure issue, 22% are likely to seek the local MLA, rather than the ward councillor as more than half of the voters do not recognise the ward as a unit of BBMP governance.
In the financial year 2021-2022, BBMP allocated Rs 60 lakh to each ward to fix footpaths, potholes and borewells, but 94% are unaware of it and hence, demanded that the ward budget should be made public. Even though voters are not yet fully aware of the nature of local governance, 87% believe that a strong Councillor would result in improved infrastructure and better quality of life.
Responding to the survey, 23% of the voters raised poor pedestrian mobility to be their biggest concern, and 20% found garbage collection, segregation and disposal to be an issue. Traffic and availability of the water were other major concerns. The priority also changes with the economic divide, as for the urban poor, access to clean water is a problem, but for the middle and the upper class, it is the traffic. Majority of the youth feel that climate change is a major concern and not enough attention is being given to it.
An overwhelming majority (82%) wants improved coordination between BBMP and other civic agencies like the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM), Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) as they feel this will result in better services. Srinivas Alavilli, Head of Civic Participation at Janaagraha, said, â€śWe tried to understand the degree of awareness citizens have about BBMP and particularly the first-time voters. The results showed that very few understand the role of BBMP, ward corporators, ward committees, but are keen to vote and want civic polls to be conducted on the basis of everyday issues that affect them. To improve our city, the institution of local governance must be strengthened, beginning with participating in local elections. We appeal to the political parties to present a compelling vision for our city and seek votes.â€ť