Proposed law for Bengaluru goes to House panel

Proposed law for Bengaluru goes to House panel

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A comprehensive law for Bengaluru that promises a five-year mayoral term, dividing the city into zones and area sabhas among other measures was referred to a House committee after the BJP’s own legislators opposed it in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday. 

When Revenue Minister R Ashoka introduced the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Bill, MLAs did not see it coming. 

Ashoka said Bengaluru was currently governed under the dated Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. “Bengaluru is rapidly growing. Bengaluru is a brand and a separate law is needed to deal with the garbage lobby, taxation matters, elections and so on,” he said, promising that the bill will give Bengaluru the development it needed. 

According to the bill, the mayor will have a five-year term. Significantly, the city will be divided into zones — up to 15 of them — and each will have a committee chaired by a zonal commissioner. Zonal committees will be formed to implement projects. A chief commissioner will coordinate between the mayor, the city council and the zonal committees. 

Also, there will be area sabhas comprising voters from polling stations located in a particular area. 

The bill seeks to improve “decentralisation, integration of public participation at various levels of municipal governance and ensuring efficient decision making by the municipal authorities”. 

That Bengaluru needs a separate law is a long-pending demand. Apparently, the bill’s origin goes back to 2010 when Ashoka was the minister in charge of Bengaluru affairs. It is said that the ruling BJP wanted to push the bill through ahead of the BBMP elections later this year. 

“There are over 172 sections in the bill. It needs comprehensive debate. It talks of a corporation, ward committees, area sabha, elections... it’s confusion overall. We shouldn’t pass this in a hurry,” Arvind Limbavali, the BJP legislator from Mahadevapura, said. 

“Right now, one ward has 65,000-70,000 voters. Through this bill, one ward will need to have 30,000-35,000 voters. We’ll also need new wards,” said Bommanahalli MLA M Satish Reddy of the BJP. JD(S) Dasarahalli MLA R Manjunath said the bill should be referred to a joint select committee. 

Congress MLAs Krishna Byre Gowda, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Ramalinga Reddy, B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan and others sent a note to Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, urging him not to take up the bill. 

Finally, Law Minister J C Madhuswamy suggested that the bill be referred to a joint select committee comprising members across parties from both houses, which the Speaker accepted. 

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