Empowered ward panels, directly elected mayor, powerful BBMP

Empowered ward panels, directly elected mayor, powerful BBMP


Barely two days before all campaigning comes to a halt, the candidate walks into your home to seek your vote. As a citizen of Bengaluru, what do you ask him/her in return? A citizen's collective offers a guide: "Empower ward committees, formulate a policy to bring different city governing agencies under the BBMP, legislate to get a directly elected mayor for five years."

Empower ward committees, because democracy begins at street level, contends Srinivas Alavilli, of Citizens for Bengaluru, a group advocating decentralisation of governance. "MLAs can make this happen by strengthening legislation around how to appoint ward committees and clearly spelling out functions of ward committees and finally by staying out of them," he explains.

Over-centralisation, he says, is the real culprit that causes lack of transparency, corruption and masks accountability. "Imagine a ward committee meeting every first Saturday where projects are monitored and requirements gathered from the ground up and prioritised with real citizen participation. When people decide things at the local level on how to spend their ward budgets, magic will happen."

Although the BBMP runs Bengaluru with 198 corporators, it has no control over water (BWSSB), electricity (Bescom), bus (BMTC) or metro (BMRCL). These parastatals act independently without any oversight by elected representatives. They work at cross purposes. "This is why there is no rainwater harvesting despite its crying need. This is why last-mile connectivity is missing for public transport. This must end. City MLAs must formulate policy to bring all these agencies under the Palike."

MLAs could also help change laws to make mayors directly elected by voters for five years. This way, individuals with experience and vision can bring real, holistic change to Bengaluru. As the CfB believes, "an amendment to Karnataka Municipal Act will make this happen. That can only happen in the Assembly."