Alleging nepotism and irregularity in choosing members of ward committees, a citizen collective has sought action against Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike nodal officers of nine wards. They have alleged that the ward committees were formed at the behest of the local councillor.
One of the wards is that of R Sampatraj, the newly elected mayor. They say that in his ward, Devara Jeevanahalli (DJ Halli), three outsiders were illegally nominated as members of the ward committee. A ward committee is a group of 10 residents who assist the corporator and the BBMP in civic welfare purposes. They review projects and give feedback to the palike on behalf of people of that ward.
Lanchamukta Karnataka Nirmana Vedike (Forum for Building Bribe-free Karnataka) has approached the Karnataka Lokayukta office alleging these errant BBMP officials of â€śmisuse of office and violations of rules and proceduresâ€ť.
However, speaking with TNM, BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad maintained that everything has been done in accordance with the law.
â€śThe Nodal officers of the above wards, under influence of local Corporators have included husbands, family members, party workers to please them. Some have gone to the length of Including non-residents of the ward in WCs, flouting the KMC Act [The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act],â€ť the LKNV said in a statement.
â€śDespite being responsible officers of their ward, they have gone to the extent of Including men for places reserved for women. If they donâ€™t find suitable candidates, they have left the place vacant. Imagine not able to find SC/ST candidates or RWAs in a population of 30+ thousand,â€ť it added.
The Vedike claims that in these wards, relatives of councillors (in one instance the husband of a corporator) were nominated as ward committee members, which they claim violates the basic principle of good governance.
â€śIronically, former Mayor Padmavathi's ward has four people residing in the same street,â€ť LKNV said.
The nine wards other than DJ Halli include HBR Layout, Chokkasandra, Muneshwara Nagara, Prakashnagar, Shantinagar, Padarayanapura, Chamrajpet and Gurappan Palya.
In their letter to the Upa Lokayukta, the Vedike said that despite the assurance of BBMP Commissioner N Manjunath Prasad, nominations by ordinary citizens were ignored and the councillor's choice of ward committee was formed.
BBMP commissioner denies allegations
â€śAll applications by citizens were forwarded to the concerned BBMP secretary of that particular ward. It is the BBMP official in consultation with the corporator that the list is finalised because the corporator is ultimately the chairman of the committee,â€ť N Manjunath Prasad told TNM.
â€śThe High Court has looked into all these aspects,â€ť he said, and assured that if any irregularity is pointed out, it will be scrutinised.
"I will definitely look into it if that is the case and if there is any violation we will check them out,â€ť he said.
Speaking to TNM, LKNV state secretary Narendra Kumar dismissed Prasad's version saying that Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act states that the BBMP commissioner is the topmost man, and the nodal officer has to take care of the ward committees.
â€śEven in the HC, we have objected to the councillor forming the ward committee," Kumar said.
"The 74th amendment to the Constitution was made to ensure that the councillor is made accountable and people have self-governance. If the corporator is going to decide who is going to watch him, then the purpose is defeated," he added.