Congress has not discussed about it, says senior councillor

Time appears to be ripe for constituting ward committees in the city, with the Mangalore City Corporation’s elected body – the council – officially coming into being on Thursday last.

Though, Minister for Urban Development Vinay Kumar Sorake promised at a meet the press here on September 17, 2013, to set up ward committees by the end of 2013, they are yet to be realised.

A senior councillor of the Congress and a former Mayor told The Hindu that even after Mr. Sorake’s last year’s promise the Congress did not discuss this aspect at all.

Now that the councillors — who will be the chairpersons the committees — have assumed office, there should be no excuse for further delay.

The Karnataka State Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, makes it mandatory to form ward committees, said G. Hanumantha Kamath, president, Nagarika Hitarakshana Samithi.

Mr. Kamath alleged that councillors, irrespective of political parties, have been avoiding the forming committees for long fearing that the citizens’ committees would undermine their importance. As ward committees would bring in more transparency, the councillors, he alleged, would have less chance to show favouritism while implementing projects.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised to constitute ward committees and systematically conduct meetings in its manifesto for the 2007 MCC council election, it did not full fill it.

An agenda on forming ward committees was placed before the meeting of the council on July 29, 2011. But the council led by the BJP postponed it without any debate. In the subsequent meetings, the agenda was put on the back burner.

The agenda said that there was a need to constitute the committees as required under the Act and the government had issued a notification to this effect on September 23, 2003. According to it, the committees have to be constituted by dividing the wards (in case of MCC it is 60) into 20 zones.

But a decision to this effect has been pending before the council (of MCC) since 1997-98.

The agenda was placed before the meeting after a voluntary organisation, Namma Mane Namma Ooru of Pachchanady, wrote to the Commissioner of the corporation on July 14, 2011, that it would petition the Karnataka High Court about the failure to constitute the committees.

The senior Congress councillor said the subject would have to be taken up in June after the Lok Sabha elections are over, he said.

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