Who was at the heart of the rezoning of Bengaluru’s civic limits – the citizen or the MLA? The city’s eight zones have been re-organised into 10 and regrouped in such a manner that no Assembly constituency has been split across two zones. This was a demand from the city’s legislators cutting across party lines.
According to sources, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike had first planned to rearrange the zones based on wards, to ensure no citizen would need to travel more than a defined number of kilometres to his or her zonal office. However, this proposal saw resistance from city MLAs.
“In a series of meetings, MLAs put their foot down and forced us to rezone the city taking care not to divide any Assembly constituency. The reason given was that they couldn’t handle multiple joint commissioners and any division would lead to lax overseeing of civic works in their constituencies,” a senior official said.
However, citizens are not buying this argument. N.S. Mukunda, of Citizen’s Action Forum, said: “We need to re-examine the role of an MLA in the city. Why are they worried about implementation of civic works, which is the job of the councillor? A quarter century after the 74th amendment (which relates to municipal governance), we are yet to implement it in its true spirit.”
Sridhar Pabbisetty, CEO of Namma Bengaluru Foundation, said the present reorganisation may only result in administrative chaos.
This move, which has little or no benefit to citizens, has created peculiar situations, especially in Dasarahalli, R.R. Nagar and Mahadevapura zones, which are either too large or spatially non-contiguous, forcing residents to travel long distances to avail any services from the zonal office.
Yeshwantpur and R.R. Nagar Assembly constituencies are spatially arranged like a ‘C’ to the west of the city’s map, encompassing almost half the circumference of the city. Yeshwantpur constituency is spread out from Tumkuru Road on one end to Kanakapura Road on the other. Not dividing the constituency into multiple zones means a citizen in Hemmigepura near Kanakapura Road would have to go to Dasarahalli to visit the zonal office.
Mahadevapura Assembly constituency, which is a zone in itself, is the largest in the city (115 sq.km) and was also set to be divided. But it hasn’t been split.
Aravind Limbavali, who represents Mahadevapura, denied that he had opposed the division, but argued that zoning based on Assembly constituencies was better for administrative coordination. “The sub-divisions are carved out on the basis of Assembly constituencies and the State government grants are also given to the constituencies. We need to work towards synchronising multiple jurisdictions of agencies, for which Assembly constituencies are better suited,” he said.