‘There is a need to bring in greater accountability and transparency in administration’

There is a need for a single planning and coordination agency to help with governance and administration of Bangalore and the government will soon take a decision in this regard, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar has said.

He said this after A. Ravindra, Adviser to Chief Minister on Urban Affairs, noted that the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) constituted for the purpose had failed to coordinate with the various civic agencies such as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom).

No public debate

Participating in a seminar organised by the Indian Institute of Public Administration on ‘Reorganising Bangalore municipal area into two or more municipal corporations, here on Saturday, Mr. Shettar noted that before the formation of the BBMP, there was no public debate to weigh the pros and cons. “If there had been a constructive debate before the merger, we would not be discussing the reorganisation of the BBMP now and neither would civic problems, especially garbage crisis, have multiplied to this extent.” Suggesting a public debate on reorganisation with elected representatives and citizens, he said there were lessons to be learnt from the reorganisation of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (DMC). “However, a smaller corporation does not automatically guarantee better services. There is a need to bring in greater accountability and transparency in administration. Governance must be more citizen-friendly,” he said.

Longer mayoral term

Mr. Shettar also said that the Mayor’s term was “too short to show results.” “The term must be extended to at least two years. A debate on this apart from the process of choosing the Mayor, either through direct elections or with the Mayor-in-council process, is essential.”

Mayor D. Venkatesh Murthy said severe resource and manpower crunch had come in the way of providing basic infrastructure in areas newly added to the BBMP. He noted that in other cities such as Mumbai, all civic agencies work under the umbrella of the city corporation, unlike in Bangalore. “This has resulted in coordination problems.”

He urged the government to consider fixing the tenure of the BBMP Commissioner to a minimum of two years. “Since I became the Mayor, there have been three BBMP Commissioners, each with his own style of administration. This is bound to affect citizens.”

K. Dharmarajan, chairperson of the expert committee that oversaw the reorganisation of the DMC, said that except for two pockets of around 40 sq. km each, the jurisdiction of the DMC was earlier 1,400 sq. km, of which around 790 sq. km was rural area.

“There were 272 wards earlier. The government then decided to split the corporation into three small corporations. There were teething and transition problems initially. However, small corporations will lead to a better governance system.”

Earlier, Mr. Ravindra noted that the BBMP was one of the largest corporations in the country with a jurisdiction of 800 sq. km. It was formed to improve and coordinate infrastructure and upgrade the quality of urban services but failed due to lack of resources and capacity. He also stressed on the need to decentralise powers and functions by forming ward committees and area sabhas.