‘Bengaluru MLAs are trying to take control of civic functions’

Former councillors and civic experts are up in arms over the Karnataka government’s proposal to divest the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) of health management, pointing out that it goes against the spirit of the 74th amendment of the Constitution. Questions have been raised about the timing of the decision.

Former Opposition Leader M. Shivaraju accused the State government of reducing the powers of the local body. “With the pandemic in full force, health management should be decentralised. A step in this direction was taken with the constitution of Ward Decentralised Triage and Emergency Response (DETER) Committee for COVID-19 management. But the government’s latest proposal only shows that it wants to have complete control over everything,” he said.

The government has mooted the idea of handing over health management to a parastatal, the Bengaluru Health Directorate, which will be constituted under the Department of Health and Family Welfare. The move comes close on the heels of another parastatal being constituted for solid waste management.

“Parastatals are not held accountable to the people, creating governance issues in the city. The State executive is continuously encroaching upon civic functions in the city,” said N.S. Mukunda of Bengaluru Praja Vedike. He pointed out that in the absence of an elected body, the MLAs seem to be chipping away at the functions of the corporation.

V. Ravichandar, former member of BBMP Restructuring Committee, said contrary to popularly held notions, the quality of administration and equitability of access increases only through decentralisation and not through central command. “Mumbai has beaten the second wave of COVID-19 through the civic body and ward level decentralisation. After a long civic movement of over two decades, we now have ward committees, which will be rendered toothless if the corporation is stripped of all its obligatory functions,” he said.

Mathew Idiculla, an advocate of urban issues, said, “This has been a trend in the city starting with formation of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) in 1964, taking away water, also an obligatory function, from the civic body. But that was before the 74th amendment.”

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 6:19:07 AM |

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