Accent on citizens' role in formulation of policies

ADDRESSING ISSUES: Deputy Secretary of the Union Ministry of Urban Development Venugopal speaking at a regional workshop on Community Participation Fund in Pudicherry on Monday. —   | Photo Credit: Photo: T. Singaravelou

Staff Reporter

PUDUCHERRY: Citizens' participation is not only required for formulation of policies and proposals, but also for the implementation of projects and reforms, said Venugopal, Deputy Secretary of the Union Ministry of Urban Development here on Monday. He was speaking at the two-day regional workshop on Community Participation Fund, and formation of City Technical Advisory Group (CTAG) and City Volunteer Technical Corps (CVTC) as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme.

Such a workshop gives an opportunity for citizens to come forward with small local level initiatives that they can oversee and implement. These will prove to be the first steps towards bigger projects at the city level, Mr. Venugopal said. The workshop was attended by officials of several departments and the municipalities, and representatives from other Southern states.

The JNNURM scheme in Puducherry had not taken off too well in the first two years, but in the last one year has gathered steam, Chief Secretary R. Chandramohan pointed out. At such a juncture, the CTAG and CVTC will prove very relevant, ensuring citizen participation in projects like sewage management, and increasing public contribution towards maintenance of civic amenities. The Public Disclosure law is important for implementation of schemes, he said, emphasizing that the Centre's guidance is necessary to implement programmes within the outlay by the various departments and elected representatives of the local bodies.

JNNURM is one of the only schemes that formally solicits the participation of civil society, and hence people must rise up to the opportunity, said Ramesh Ramanathan, chairperson of the National Technical Advisory Group (NTAG). The NTAG's role is voluntary, and the CTAG is only a city-level platform for people to participate. People of the city, and their skills are needed, for the CVTC and the CTAG which provide structures for people participation. Mr. Ramesh went on to cite the success story of Madurai, where an alternate City Heritage Plan was formulated with the help of the citizens.

90 per cent of the grant comes from the Centre, and only ten per cent needs to come from the community, and in the case of the urban poor, only 5 per cent, as part of the Community Participation Fund, which the CVTC and the CTAG can channelize, he said.