With the High Court setting a December 31, 2022, deadline for BBMP polls in the city, a coalition of citizens’ groups organised under the banner of Bengaluru Ward Samiti Balaga, pushing for more citizen participation in governance through ward committees, have now begun to put pressure on all political parties to commit themselves to more empowered ward committees.
A convention of the Balaga held on Sunday, passed eight resolutions on ward committees and demanded that all political parties must commit themselves to these resolutions in their manifestoes for the upcoming civic polls. The resolutions include demand for formation of ward committees in a fair and transparent way including active citizens within three months of the formation of the new council and ward committees should be tasked with monitoring waste management, road and footpath maintenance, and oversee lakes, streetlights and other amenities in the ward. “The city budget must be set by actively involving citizens and ward-level budget allocations and details of expenditure must be published. The ward committee resolutions must be implemented. Meetings must be held on the first Saturday of every month and should be chaired by the elected corporator,” the resolutions read.
These demands come in the wake of how ward committees were formed for the first time in 2018 after a fight of over 25 years. However, there have been many complaints of the committees being packed with councillor’s lackeys, irregular meetings and no follow ups on the resolutions made at these meetings.
Chief Civic Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath, who participated in the convention said he understood how citizens were frustrated with many civic issues, but requested civic groups to help the BBMP in better management of the city. “I request the citizens to monitor solid waste management, welfare of pourakarmikas, streetlights and parks and only people at the ward level know how things are working. Citizens should approach Zonal Commissioners for resolving issues,” he said.
During the meeting, the participants deliberated on ward committee meetings and citizens who regularly participated in the ward committee meetings shared their experiences. Various civil society organisations, NGOs, and RWAs such as Janaagraha, BPAC, Sensing Local, Changemakers of Kanakapura, Bangalore Apartments Federation (BAF), Whitefield Rising, Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB) and other groups participated in the event.