The ward committees (WC) in the current form are like a toothless tiger, far from what was envisaged under the 74th amendment to the Constitution, said M.K. Gunashekar, Opposition Leader in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) council.
Stating that he would write to Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar in this regard, he said that for the committees to actually serve its purpose, they must be given executive and financial powers.
“The committees must be given these powers for meaningful participation of citizens at all levels of governance. With a strong ward committee, many ward issues can be settled at that level itself. This will bring down administrative expenditure, besides cutting down file movement,” the leader of the Opposition said.
Mr. Gunashekar, who had raised this issue in the recently held special council meeting, said the committees were supposed to approve the programme of works and take part in the planning functions.
“The role of ward committee should be strengthened to allow it to levy fines and penalties on garbage contractors, who have not been performing their duties. Instead, this power has been given to the officials, who unfortunately are working as agents of the contractors,” he alleged.
He said that the committees should also have a financial committee, which should present the budget for the ward.
That apart, ward committees should have the powers to spend 50 per cent of the revenue generated in the ward.
“This could be used to take up small repairs and maintenance work,” he said.
Mr. Gunashekar said that as part of planning functions, the committees could clear proposals to construct commercial complexes, decide on usage of civic amenity sites and where the segregation centres should be set up. He charged the government with violating the principle of natural justice by failing to take the consent of the local bodies before bringing in the amendment to the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976.
He alleged that the government had not followed the guidelines specified either by the 74th Amendment or the Model Nagaraj Bill.
“There is no transparency in the amendment. Had the opinion of the local body been taken, we would probably not have such a weak ward committee system.”