The State government has issued the final gazette notification on the delimitation of wards coming under the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).
The draft notification was issued in March earlier this year and objections were invited. The final notification, issued on June 23, states that the delimitation of wards was based on the 2011 census. The number of wards in BBMP continues to be 198, though the core zones have lost some wards and outer zones have gained a few.
Even when the draft notification was issued, civic activists questioned the rationale behind the exercise, given that the 2011 census was outdated. They also pointed out that the government got into the delimitation exercise only after being pulled up by the Karnataka High Court.
Kathyayini Chamaraj from the non-profit CIVIC deemed it a futile exercise as the 2011 census was redundant. “The Karnataka State Election Commission should ideally be doing the delimitation, redrawing the ward boundaries, announcing reservation and notifying elections. However, the State government has misappropriated that power,” she said.
Electoral roll analyst P.G. Bhat highlighted the skewed population growth rate, which is minimal in core areas, but has seen an exponential rise in the outer zones since 2011. “There are enough statistical tools to come out with an estimated growth in population. There should be a method in the madness. The census data is not representative of the population growth. The electoral rolls, despite the data flaws, may be used,” he said.
BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar said the census was an authentic and dependable database. “The electoral rolls are faulty and many civic activists themselves have pointed it out. Though it is constantly updated, many names are not included. It may have more people compared to the census, but that does not mean that it is more accurate,” he said.
Sources in the BJP maintained that the government was well aware that the data was outdated. “This is just a tactic to delay the elections to the BBMP. The term of the incumbent council ends in September. The delimitation of wards will be questioned on the same grounds,” the source said.
Srinivas Alavilli from Citizens for Bengaluru said that the government has already initiated the exercise of drafting a new Act exclusive for Bengaluru. “There are major changes coming in. However, this should not become a reason for postponing polls. If there is no elected council in place, there will be lack of accountability. We do not want a repeat of 2007-10 when the civic body was under an administrator,” he said.