Momentum builds up for Greater Bengaluru Governance Bill

Momentum builds up for Greater Bengaluru Governance Bill

The Bill calls for a three-tier governance structure with empowered ward committees, multiple municipal corporations and a Greater Bengaluru Authority at the top

The Greater Bengaluru Governance Bill, 2018, if enacted, could radically change the way this city of 1.3 crore is governed. Finally in the public domain after the new government’s takeover, the bill suggests a comprehensive overhaul of the unwieldy Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) through a three-tier governance framework. 

On its agenda are creation of empowered ward committees at the lowest level, multiple municipal corporations at the mid-level and a greater Bengaluru authoity at the top. The big objective is to ensure the local government is closer and more accessible to people. 

Drafted over the last seven months by the Expert Committee on BBMP Restructuring, the proposed legislation was submitted to the Urban Development Secretariat in May. But it was not publicised formally as the model code of conduct had come into force before the state Assembly elections. Members of that committee have now approached the new government to take it forward. 

Directly elected mayor

The bill’s toughest test to pass would be the politically tricky proposal for a directly elected mayor at the apex of the Greater Bengaluru Authority (GBA). The draft legislation is categorical that the mayor should be empowered enough to call the shots and deliver on multiple issues linked to Bengaluru. 

But this authority can work only if the three-tier city governance system is firmly in place. All the multiple state agencies such as Bescom and the BMTC should be integrated at the GBA level, contends urbanist V Ravichandar, who was also part of the expert committee.

The committee has packaged the bill as an attempt to realise the spirit of decentralised democracy as envisaged in the 74th Constitutional Amendment by institutionalising community participation in local governance. 

Also on the agenda are ensuring political accountability of civic agencies, improving transparency in governance and laying down institutions and processes that facilitate effective, efficient and equitable municipal governance. 

The provisions of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations, 1976, will continue to govern other municipal corporations in the state. But this bill, once enacted, will govern the municipal corporations in the greater Bengaluru area.

A legal expert who played a key role in drafting the bill says the GBA would have responsibilities of coordination, planning and administering mega infrastructure projects across multiple Corporations under it.