MCC Civic Group Hosts Area Sabhas & Ward Committees Workshop for Better Future of ‘Smart City’ Mluru

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MCC Civic Group Hosts Area Sabhas & Ward Committees Workshop for Better Future of ‘Smart City’ Mluru

Mangaluru: MCC Civic Group-Mangaluru organized “Area Sabhas and Ward Committees Workshop” for the better future of ‘Smart City’-Mangaluru on 15th Dec 2018 from 9:30 am to 12 noon at St. Aloysius College Auditorium-Mangaluru. Two Speaker Chief Guests were Smt Kathyayini Chamaraj – Executive Trustee, CIVIC Bangalore ®; and Narendra Kumar – President, Nagarika Shakti ® & State Joint Secretary, Forum to Build Bribe-Free Karnataka ®.

The Agenda during the workshop included- Introduction of the 74th
constitutional amendment 1992 – Community Participation In Municipal Governance in conjunction with Section 13 of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act 1976 and what it means for the future of Smart City Mangaluru; An interactive questions and answers session deliberating the concept; A Video Presentation highlighting the results of the absence of citizens participation in Mangaluru governance.

And the Objectives of the Workshop were: To develop a functional understanding of the Area Sabhas & Ward Committees system of governance and civic issues that affect citizens in everyday life; To impart elementary skills in accessing the institutionalization of citizens participation and processes; To enable citizens to use public advocacy; To develop a cadre of dutiful citizens to strengthen and aid the local governance service delivery system by bridging the gap between people, especially the most vulnerable and by demystifying the system, spreading awareness and facilitating access.

For various reasons the city is known for its high-quality human
resources, but somehow it had shown a certain degree of relent in taking forward civic issues. But things have changed a group of young civic activists led by the WhatsApp group ‘MCC Civic Group’. The group administrator Nigel Albuquerque and many of the group members have been discussing on why Mangaluru city corporation did not form the ward committees despite the directives from the government. The city’s civic leaders did not open their eyes even after the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike was rapped by the court for not holding the ward committee meetings regularly. The civic activists of the city have been knocking at every door including the people’s representatives, the Mayor, Commissioner of Mangaluru City Corporation and the successive Deputy Commissioners for a long time.

Following the seriousness of the issue, the MCC Civic Group decided to take the issue of formation of ward committees in all the 60 wards of the Corporation on a public platform, and it’s nice to note that the first workshop is held today, 15 December. At a time when the city is going to launch itself into the ‘smart city mode,’ the civic activism has to rush to the help of the city corporation to make it a bottoms-up model and not a top-down model in planning for a city of their dreams. The Mangalore Smart City Limited authorities have also welcomed the initiative taken up by the MCC Civic Group. They say such an initiative will help the city to grow into a smart city with the help of the people when they are involved in the planning process.

The workshop began with a prayer by two students of St Aloysius College, Mangaluru, followed by welcome address and briefing of the
workshop by MCC Civic Group leader Nigel Albuquerque. A short audio-video presentation of Garbage, Pollution and Water issues was
presented by Padmanabha Ullal, an MCC Civic group member. The audience comprised mostly of students, mixed with the general public. Ms Harini of Urban Research Centre and Programme coordinator compered the programme.

Regarding, the Constitution 74th Amendment Act, 1992 Decentralization is a backbone for democracy and the Constitution of India recognized it. The 74th amendment to the Constitution in 1992 provides that each the urban area shall have a municipality and municipalities are categorized into three, a Nagara panchayat, for a transitional area, that is to say, an area in transition from a rural area to an urban area; a municipal council for a smaller urban area; and a municipal corporation for a larger urban area. In addition to the municipality, the Constitution also provided, in each municipality, Wards Committees, consisting of one or more wards within the territorial area of a municipality having a population of three lakhs or more.

In compliance with the constitutional mandate, many states have provided the institution of Wards Committees. The states have interpreted the constitutional provision according to their convenience; and many states have provided the Wards Committees, not limiting to one, but for a group of wards. The constitution and composition of Wards Committees in general are – Wards Committees are constituted in municipalities having a population of three lakhs or more. In some states, they are constituted even if the population is less than three lakhs.

The Wards Committee shall consist of the members elected from the
wards for which Wards Committee is constituted – The Chairperson of
the Wards Committee shall be elected by the members from amongst themselves. – There would be a Secretary to assist the Wards Committee in its functioning. The Secretary is an official of the municipality to be identified by Commissioner. The powers and functions of Wards Committee in general are – Maintenance of sanitation, solid waste management, water supply and drainage/sewerage – Maintenance of roads and street lighting – Maintenance of markets, parks and playgrounds, – Maintenance of school buildings, dispensaries and maternity and child welfare centres, – Review of revenue collections – Preparation of draft annual budget of its jurisdictions and forward to council for 3 Community Participation Law.

The basic model of Ward Committee would be – There would be a Ward Committee for every ward in the municipality – The ward member would be the chairperson of the Ward Committee – The Ward Committee would consist of a few members who are voters in the ward, and they would be nominated by the municipality – The members nominated would represent Non-Government Organizations, Community Based Organizations representing the urban poor, resident welfare associations, professional groups, trade or industrial groups, academicians, social or cultural groups etc and half of them would be women. The Area Sabha representative should be a voter in the concerned area of the ward. The Area Sabha Representatives will also be made members of the Ward Committee.

Each ward will have Ward Sabha and all voters of the ward will participate in Ward Sabha meetings.. – In case areas are established, each area will have Area Sabha and all voters of the area will participate in Area Sabha meetings. – Members of Ward Committee, as well as Area Sabha representatives, would be nominated by the municipality and they would neither be elected nor nominated by the government or government agencies. – This arrangement brings the community, i.e., people at the grass-root to the system of governance. During the Area Sabha and Ward Sabha meetings, all voters of the concerned Area and the ward respectively would participate and show their voice. The objective of the Area Sabha/Ward Sabha meetings is to ensure people’s participation in municipal governance and to make the public voice reflected in the decision-making process of the municipality.

The Area Sabha and Ward Sabha are not decision making bodies and as such do not have any powers to exercise. However, they would have certain functions to perform. The functions may consist the following:
– Generate proposals and determine the priority of schemes in the area and forward to Ward Committee for inclusion in the Ward Development Plan –
Identify the eligible beneficiaries under government-sponsored welfare schemes on the basis of already fixed criteria – Identify deficiencies in the services provided by the municipality – Suggest the location of street lights, public taps, public conveniences etc. – Cooperate with Ward Committee in the maintenance of sanitation – Impart awareness on matters of public interest like literacy, health care, environmental issues and pollution etc.

The Area Sabha/Ward Sabha should have certain rights also, like
getting information – Of the services rendered or works taken up in
the next three or six months from the officials concerned, – Of the
action taken by the Ward Committee on the proposals sent by it and the decisions taken thereon Ward Committee. The Ward Committee should have certain functions to perform. They may include – Supervision over sanitation, distribution of water supply, working of street lights, minor repairs to roads, maintenance of markets, parks and playgrounds
– Monitoring poverty alleviation programmes- Monitoring the
functioning of schools, maternity centres and dispensaries. –
Facilitate collection of taxes and non-taxes – Preparation of list of
beneficiaries under various government welfare schemes – Preparation of annual Ward Development Plan including a financial plan and forward to the municipality for consideration and inclusion in the municipal budget. – Approving works relating to maintenance of services to a limited financial extent.

The Ward Committee should have certain rights also. They may include – Seek information from Commissioner on any matter pertaining to the ward – Seek information on Master Plan and Zonal Development Plan of the municipality – To be consulted in the development of land use and zonal development regulations in the ward – To obtain the municipal budget – To obtain details of revenue items relating to ward The Ward Committee, while making decisions or in its normal functioning should take into consideration the outcomes during Area Sabha meetings and Ward Sabha meetings, which are attended by all voters in the Area or Ward respectively.

In fact, these Area Sabha and Ward Sabha are represented by the
community, i.e., people at the bottom. Allocation of Funds In the
present day context, unless certain financial powers are allotted to
the Ward Committee, there would not be any effective decentralization. The municipality may allocate a certain percentage of the budget earmarked in the annual budget towards the maintenance of services to all ward committees for performing the functions referred to above. Some states have already responded and passed the law and it has to be seen how many states would respond to the mandate of reforms identified by JNNRUM and really decentralize the municipal governance to enable community participation.

Hope with all the efforts put in by the MCC Civic group, let’s hope that our Smart City-Mangaluru will also have an Area Sabhas & Ward
Committees for the betterment of this growing city, where now with all the corrupt officials and councillors who are running the show in MCC are ruining the progress of the City systematically. Good job by MCC Civic group, and three cheers to Nigel Albuquerque and Er Rajendra Kumar for taking the initiative in organizing this Workshop, with assistance from other MCC Civic group members.

For More Details Contact: Nigel Albuquerque 7666873534; Rajendra
Kumar 9902020285; MCC Civic Group, Mangaluru

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