Mangaluru, Dec 16, 2018: The vital participation and proper role of the immediate community in local governance by implementing Ward Committees and Area Sabhas in all the 60 wards of Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC) was the very important topic that took center stage at a workshop on Area Sabhas and Ward Committees, organised by the MCC Civic Group, in St Aloysius college hall on December 15, Saturday. CIVIC Bengaluru Executive Trustee Kathyayini Chamaraj gave the key note address.
She said, “ 25 years have gone by since the 74th Constitutional amendment (that mandates formation of ward committees), yet the ward-level committees are still have not been allowed to become a reality in all the City Corporations (except BBMP) in Karnataka,” Formation of ward committees in municipal corporations was the main feature of the 74th constitutional amendment. The amendment aimed at giving “power to the people.”
A PIL filed in 2012 questioning the heaps of garbage that remained uncleared in Bengaluru, led to the issue of absence of ward committees being raised in the court. Finally, with the court order, the ward committee and area sabha rules 2016 to KMC Act was passed and the BBMP constituted ward committees in all the 198 wards in Bengaluru, a year ago.
However, the ward committee meetings are not yet being conducted regularly as stipulated by the Act, she pointed out and added “Without proper meetings, the whole purpose of forming committees is lost.”
She further said that there was a lack of political will to implement ward committees and area sabhas in all the ULBs in the state as Councillors are wary of losing their vital powers.
“Rules also state that an agenda for ward committee meeting has to be set for the meeting and minutes put up on a public platform such as the ULB website. But they are not being followed,” said Nagarika Shakthi president Narendra Kumar.
Retired engineer Padmanabha Ullal said ward committees were needed to foster social harmony in the society. The committees also ensured people’s participation in the governance. Antony Waste Handling Cell Pvt Ltd. which bagged a seven-year contract to lift and manage solid waste in Mangaluru was supposed to sweep the streets and dividers, but this is rarely done. Agreements are flouted by the contractor. Had there been a community participation, we could have questioned it,” he said.
MCC Civic Group, Mangaluru and CIVIC, Bengaluru have filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court to direct Mangaluru City Corporation to enforce the implementation of ward committees and area sabha in all the 60 wards of Mangaluru City Corporation.
CIVICs Chamaraj called upon Mangalureans to fight for formation of ward committees and area sabhas in 60 wards of the corporation.
“The writ highlights the examples of how the absence of ward committees have affected the implementation of issues like drinking water supply, sanitation, UGD and safety issues,” said Nigel Albuquerque of Mangaluru Civic Group. President of Nagarika Shakti Narendra Kumar and activist Padmanabha Ullal also spoke.