'14 years on, ward committees still a dream'

The Mangalore City Corporation has been contemplating with the idea of constituting ward committees for the last 14 years. However, the ward committes are still a dream in the MCC limits.

After a voluntary organisation ‘Namma Mane Namma Ooru’ wrote to the MCC Commissioner on July 14, 2011, that it would file PIL in the Karnataka High Court against the failure of the MCC to constitute the committees, an agenda to constitute the ward committee was included in the agenda of the MCC in the monthly meeting held on July 29.

The agenda said that there is a need to constitute the committees as per Section 13 (A) of the Karnataka State Municipal Corporations’ Act. According to the amendment to the Act (1997), the committees have to be constituted in the city corporation limits. The Government had issued a notification to this effect on September 23, 2003 after making necessary amendments to the law. According to the law, the committees have to be constituted by dividing the wards under 20 zones.

Unfortunately, the MCC monthly meeting decided to postpone the discussion on the constitution of ward committee.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Namma Mane Namma Ooru Advisor Padmanabha Ullal said: “When State Human Rights Commission directed the Commissioner to take measure to constitute ward committees, the Commissioner had written a letter to the SHRC on November 22, 2008 that measures will be taken to include the issue of constituting ward committee in the Council’s agenda for discussion. However, no concrete action has been taken so far. Hence, we have decided to file a PIL in the High Court. Assembly Deputy Speaker N Yogish Bhat, Mayor Praveen and Commissioner in a Janasamparka meeting held on June 4, 2011, had promised to take measures to constitute ward committees.
However, all the promises have remained only on paper.”

All the political parties had promised to constitute ward committees in their manifesto during the election to the civic body in 2008. After the election, three Mayor’s have completed their term and fourth mayor has been elected. However, the authorities concerned have failed to constitute ward committees for the welfare of the city and to check misappropriation of funds to some extent.

Ullal said ward committees are functioning well in Hubli Corporation. However, in Hubli, five wards have been included under one committee. “We want to have a committee to each ward in Mangalore. The committee will have corporator and other citizens from the ward as its members. The committee will meet once in a month and discuss the development work needed to be undertaken in the ward and the work can be undertaken accordingly. If there was a ward committee, then misappropriation of funds, poor quality of works can be checked to some extent,” he felt.

The ward committees can look into the work related to disposal of waste, drainage, road, making people to participate in the development process, look into the utilisation of funds earmarked in the MCC budget and so on. There would be more transparency in the work.

“When the committees were in place, the corporators could not get works done according to their whims and fancies. They could not do any favour to anyone. The works will have to be taken up on priority basis as per the decision of the committee,” Ullal said.

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