The speed with which the State Legislative Assembly passed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Bill, 2020, on Thursday has caused a stir among civil organisations and activists. The Bill received more brickbats than bouquets, with many viewing it as another opportunity lost for the much-needed administrative and governance reforms for the city.
The lack of public consultations, apart from no solution to the lack of coordination between different civic agencies and parastatals in the city is one of the major drawbacks in the Bill, said urban planners.
Former Opposition leader in BBMP Council M. Shivaraju, who filed a PIL petition questioning the delay in holding polls to the civic body, termed the Bill as “unconstitutional”, going to the extent of calling it a “Black Day” for the city.
In a statement, the non-profit organisation, Janaagraha, said that the Bill should have been far more ambitious and comprehensive, and based on a far more systematic, consultative and well-informed process.
Srikanth Viswanathan, CEO, Janaagrahaa, said: “The silver lining to the cloud is decentralisation of powers and functions to the zones and wards and citizen participation through ward committees and area sabhas. We need to, however, emphasise to the State government that major missing pieces such as metropolitan governance, spatial planning, and financial and human resource capacities, besides digitalisation need to be addressed.”
Jagadish Reddy from Varthur Rising maintained that the Bill did not address the problems of the city, especially administrative gaps. The State’s exchequer gets nearly 60% revenue from the city and yet, the “myopic Bill” has no vision for Bengaluru’s future development, he maintained.
Stating that the BBMP Bill was better than the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976, in some ways, urban expert V. Ravichandar, who was also part of the government-constituted BBMP Restructuring Committee, said the hits were the recognition of municipal authorities, such as Mayor, zonal committees, ward committees and area sabhas, and emphasis on heritage and solid waste management.
But he questioned why the MLAs were made central to the BBMP Bill, when the executive is actually the elected councillor. “There are a few city corporations in the country where the MLAs don’t belong to them. The Bill should have ideally taken this path,” he said and also pointed out that the drawing of the ward should be citizen centric and not whether it cuts across two/ three Assembly constituencies.