news Friday, April 17, 2015 - 05:30

If there is one thing that all the political parties, civic groups and Bengaluru residents agree on, it is that the BBMP is highly inefficient, corrupt and too large to manage, but if the state government has its way, there may be little real change in the proposed trifurcation. The Karnataka government has called a special session of the legislature on Monday to pass the bill that will trifurcate the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike. The term of the BBMP will come to an end on April 23, 2015 and a single bench of the Karnataka High recently ordered that the elections be conducted by May 30. But the state government has filed a petition seeking a stay on the elections, which is now scheduled to be heard on Monday. If the Assembly passes the bill and there is no stay on the polls, there may be more of the same problems plaguing the BBMP at present. Already many people have expressed dismay over the actions of the state government’s hasty move, when its own restricting committee has not yet completed its work. At present, the state government has only submitted an interim report, after obtaining suggestions from various civic associations, residents, and research groups. Some groups such as Civic and scholars at the Azim Premji University have called for a complete overhaul of the system in line with the 74th amendment of the Constitution, which would make the ward the focus of the governance by giving more powers to elected representatives with checks and balances built in. Other groups have focused more on the revenues and the management side of the urban local body. Executive Trustee of Civic Kathyayini Chamraj says that at present the BBMP’s councilors were not accountable for many services such as health and education, unlike the gram panchayats which directly provided these services in rural areas. She said that if the objective of social justice was to be achieved in urban governance not just in Bengaluru, but also everywhere in the state, the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act would have to be amended, making ULBs responsible and accountable for providing healthcare, education and ensuring that backward sections were not neglected. Kathyayini said that 40 percent of the funds could be directly disbursed to the wards for expenditure on smaller requirements such as road repairs. “At present, every file has to go all the way up to the commissioner and back down for anything to be cleared,” she said. Candidates could prepare five-year plans containing proposals for social justice, poverty alleviation, malnourishment, social infrastructure, children. “Human Development Indices could be developed for each ward, based on which the councilor could be judged, and if they have done well, they could be re-elected,” Kathyayini said. BPAC member RK Misra argued that the polls need to be deferred until the BBMP has been restructured completely, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar feels that the best way to weed out corruption is through elections. Misra felt a complete overhaul of the BBMP administration is the need of the hour and the state government should not have announced trifurcation of the body without consulting the interim report of the panel.  He criticized the BJP for not owning up to the mess it had created. “The elections must not be conducted now since the same kind of BBMP will come into existence, so the whole point of election is defeated,” he said. Rajeev Chandrashekar questioned the purpose of stalling the election – what was it trying to achieve by delaying the process and did it help in addressing the problems of the city? “The people of Bengaluru have the constitutional right to vote in or vote out the councillors and by postponing the elections, the state government is preventing people from exercising their right,” he said. The government should have called for a public debate on the trifurcation issue, he added. The government had recently introduced an ordinance for the trifurcation of the body. “It has now convened the House on Monday (April 20) to pass the Bill,” he claimed. Earlier, the governor had returned the file questioning the timing of the ordinance.  “Convening the House even before the court could deliver its stand is a blatant undermining of the judicial process. He suggested that the High Court must stay the elections for the time being and give a deadline for the restructuring and then call for elections.

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