Area sabhas in Mangaluru: Govt issues notification

Area sabhas in Mangaluru: Karnataka govt issues notification

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The Urban Development Department (UDD) has issued a notification on the constitution of area sabhas in Mangaluru, which is the first of the 11 city corporations in Karnataka to get such a notification.

Citizens’ groups have said that the area sabhas are helpful to ensure greater grass-roots participation in governance. An area sabha is a body of electors in the area covered by one or more polling booths in a particular ward.

Following a PIL filed in the high court by the members of the Karnataka Ward Samithi Vedike, the court, in its order, dated August 8, 2019, had directed the authorities to notify the area sabhas in Mangaluru before the ward elections and form ward committees soon after the constitution of the council of the Mangaluru City Corporation after election.

When the authorities failed to notify on the area sabhas before election to the Council of the Corporation, Narendra Kumar, president of Nagarika Shakti, filed a criminal contempt petition in the high court on December 6, which is yet to be heard.

“We are happy that Karnataka got its first area sabha notified in Mangaluru, after a long wait. Yet, we are unhappy with the way it was notified,” Narendra Kumar said.

“The importance of an area sabha lies in the fact that all ward-level development plans should originate at the area sabha meetings. The Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Act, 2011 (KMC Act), specifies under Section 13F the importance of area sabhas,” he explained.

According to the Act, all the voters are, by default, members of the area sabha. Which should conduct its meetings once at least every three months. All decisions of the area sabha should be taken by a majority of the members present.

As per the notification, the 60 wards in the Mangaluru City Corporation limits have been divided into 121 area sabhas. Each area sabha has 4,000 to 5,000 voters as members.

“Even though the high court order was complied with, it was done in an impractical manner. Gathering 5,000 voters, interacting with them and getting majority to take decisions is almost impossible,” said activists who have been demanding area sabhas and ward committees.

Fourth ward of Katipalla (Krishnapura), fifth ward of Katipalla North and sixth ward of Idya (East) have three area sabhas while the first wards of Surathkal (West) and Kadri (North) have only one area sabha each notified.

“As the petition is yet to be heard, we will bring the issue to the notice of the court and ask for a practical implementation of the court orders in both letter and spirit,” said the activists, adding, “We are happy that a beginning has been made and we can seek court intervention in getting both area sabhas and ward committees in all 11 corporations of Karnataka that have population of over three lakh (Bengaluru, Mangaluru, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Shivamogga, Davanagere, Ballari, Hubballi-Dharwad, Belagavi, Vijayapura and Kalaburagi).”