Abhyudaya started a grievance redressal initiative in 2002

Citizens' initiatives may today be a dime a dozen, but when Abhyudaya started a grievance redressal initiative in April 2002, it was a first for the city.

Abhyudaya, a federation of residents' welfare associations, started monthly “ward sabhas” a decade ago to provide a platform for the public to have an informal grievance redressal forum. This was a huge relief to hundreds of residents at a time when Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council did not exist.

The ward sabhas were held on the last Saturday of every month from February 2003 to November 2009 in the erstwhile ward number 55 comprising areas such as Hoskerehalli, Padmanabhanagar, ISRO Layout, Kumaraswamy Layout and others having a population of about 1.62 lakh. In the new Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, these areas fall under ward numbers 161, 181, 182 and 183.

Abhyudaya managed to rope in all the officials concerned (mainly Bangalore Electricity supply Company, BBMP and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) to participate in the programme. This initiative came to the rescue of residents when BBMP had no elected representatives.

“The ward sabhas were taken so seriously by the officials as well as the residents welfare associations (RWAs) that promises and follow-up actions were reviewed every month,” B.V. Ramakrishna, joint secretary of Abhyudaya. The interaction provided a transparent method of dealing with civic officials. There were interactions with police officials also.

Driven mainly by senior citizens, Abhyudaya not only set up interaction with the officials but also fought for the improvement of under-developed areas. “We got a survey of roads, streetlights and trees done and also worked out the cost to asphalt mud roads. Our survey became the basis for many officials to take up the works,” he said.

The absence of parks was another battle and Abhyudaya ensured two civic amenities sites were turned into parks in Radhakrishna Layout. Though permission has been given to convert another such site to a park, it is now mired in litigation.

When the BBMP sought to replace self-assessment scheme (SAS) with the capital value system (CVS) for property tax, Abhyudaya took the lead in bringing together various RWAs to protest. From its humble beginnings in a garage at the residence of advocate Uma Nanjundaiah in Ittamadu, Abhyudaya now functions from its spacious office in Padmanabhanagar. Today, it is a federation comprising 35 RWAs and 375 individuals as members.

Its work became so popular that delegations from Pune and even Sri Lanka and Kenya came to study the success story.

For the past few months, Abhyudaya has not been holding the sabhas though Mr. Ramakrishna said they would be revived shortly. Its next project is to take up a survey of vacant sites in four wards following a BBMP circular to clean up such sites.

“Debris dumping and disposal of garbage in vacant sites have become a nuisance, breeding mosquitoes,” he said.

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