As yet another Coimbatore Corporation Council takes shape, the demand is growing louder for constituting ward committees.
The Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation Act, 1981 mandates constitution of ward committee for each of the 100 wards comprising members who are registered voters in the ward concerned. It authorises the Council to nominate the voters as members of the committee. The Act also leaves it to the Council to decide on the number of such members, their qualification and functions. The councillor of each ward will be the chairperson of the respective ward committee.
But in the 20 years that the Corporation had four councils - 1996-2001, 2001-06, 2006-11 and 2011-16 - there was no ward committee, said a former councillor
The need for constituting ward committees is more now because people have not had a say in the city’s development in the last five years (2016-21), a period when there was no elected council either, says consumer activist K. Kathirmathiyon.
The Corporation Council constituting such committees will only strengthen councillors’ hands as it will aid their work in ward development, he adds.
Citizen’s Voice Club president C.M. Jayaraman says the Council should constitute the ward committees in such a way that they do not end up as a mere advisory body. The committees should also have the powers to monitor work in their respective ward and seek accountability from the Corporation officials working in the ward concerned.
Mr. Kathirmathiyon adds, to empower the committees the Municipal Administration Department must amend city corporation Acts to specify the number of persons to be appointed to those committees and define their roles and responsibilities.
And, it should make it mandatory for the committees to meet at least thrice or four times a year.
Former Councillor R. Kalyanasundaram says constitution of ward committees is a must. But, whether the councillors-elect will favour such a set up remains to be seen. Even if the councillors do not come forward, their political parties should take the lead.
Communist Party of India leader and a former Councillor, K. Purushothaman, says the party will take a lead by asking all its four councillors to initiate steps to constitute ward committees. Besides, its councillors will also demand formation of area sabhas, another participative forum that the Act has mandated.
By bringing in people’s participation, the Corporation can identify, protect and develop reserved sites in layouts, for it does not know how many such sites are there in the city. And, of the sites it has identified, it has left undeveloped at least 80, he says.