Common law for all urban bodies junks B'luru hopes

Common law for all urban bodies junks B'luru hopes

Common law for all urban bodies junks B'luru hopes

Bengaluru's long-pending hope for a separate legislation to govern its growth has been dashed as the state government wants to enact a common legislation covering all local bodies, including the BBMP.

The Urban Development Department has asked the premier National Law School of India University to draft a common act that will subsume the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act, the Karnataka Municipalities Act, the Urban Development Authorities Act, the Bangalore Development Authority Act and the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority Act. The BBMP functions under the KMC Act.

"The idea is codification of all legislation to ensure uniformity, which will in turn help ease of doing business," Additional Chief Secretary (Urban Development) Mahendra Jain said. "This is a reform that will make Karnataka eligible for Central grants under the 'reforms' category," he added.

The proposed common legislation comes in the wake of the government's plan to streamline the grant of approval for development of land and buildings with faster, automated and transparent procedures through Common Zoning Regulations, which has faced stiff opposition from resident groups in Bengaluru.

For instance, the government wants to streamline the process of building plan approvals and civic bodies have been asked to put an online system in place so that submission of applications and approvals are done virtually.

Urban evangelist V Ravichandar panned the idea of a common act from Bengaluru's perspective. "It can work for cities up to a certain size - ideally for cities with 3-15 lakh population. A city like Bengaluru with 100 lakh population and an area of 709 sq km definitely needs a dedicated act to govern and administer it," he said. "The issues of ward committees, zonal administration and integration across multiple agencies is unique to Bengaluru. No other city has comparable challenges," he said.

Ravichandar is a member of the BBMP Restructuring Committee that has suggested a separate act for Bengaluru. Large cities such as Delhi and Mumbai have their own legislation governing municipal areas - Delhi has the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act and Mumbai has a Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act.

The erstwhile Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development (ABIDe) Task Force had drafted a Bengaluru Metropolitan Region Governance Act.

Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who was ABIDe convener, said, "Planning and governance for Bengaluru must now be as a metropolitan region and not as a city. It direly needs a new legislative framework."

The BBMP, in its 2017-18 budget, pitched for a city-specific act as "it is of paramount importance for Bengaluru".