Ward Committee member list likely to be released this month – MCC Commissioner

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Ward Committee member list likely to be released this month – MCC Commissioner

  • Commissioner wants ward committee members and Corporators and himself to be trained for effective ward committees
  • Objections from citizens will be invited after the ward committee member list is released

Mangaluru: Mangaluru City Corporation is most likely to announce the ward committee member list before the end of February, after which objections will be invited from citizens.

Speaking at Janaagraha’s 9th City Politics Webinar – ‘Citizens and Politicians join hands for Ward Committees in Mangaluru’, MCC Commissioner Akshy Sridhar said that the scrutiny of nodal officers for the wards had been completed, and they will be announced in a day or two. “After scrutiny from the senior officers, list of ward committee members will be released and objections from citizens will be invited after which the ward committee member list can be finalized,” he said.

“We can reject applications that have inaccurate or false information. However, choosing one citizen over another who has better merit could be challenging even for the nodal officers. There is no clear criterion for selection in such cases. Hence, in the objections, citizens can submit their suggestions if someone has higher merit or if a person selected lacks the necessary merit,” he said.

When questioned if the ward committees will start functioning from March, Sridhar said multiple facets need to be considered. “Apart from Bengaluru, ward committees are not there anywhere else in the state. I prefer taking on the process slowly so that it will be impactful. First, the corporators, officials and citizens need to get used to ward committees. There is a need to understand the process and multiple rounds of capacity training is required at all levels. We have seen it only on paper, and we need to see it practically,” he said.

The Commissioner further highlighted the need to create more nodal points to bring in transparency and accountability. “This is a gap we are trying to bridge. Appointing Ward Committee Secretaries and Area Sabha nodal officers is a challenge as, like most Corporations, MCC is also understaffed. We don’t have that many officers, and we are using all our staff from town planning, revenue, engineering as well as first and second division assistance working in our office.”

“In Mangaluru, there are many areas where a sense of mistrust prevails, which then leads to blame games. Ward Committees democratizes processes and are the platforms where grievances can be discussed and resolved. We do not want the ward committees to be a source of conflict but instead a basis of cooperation that increases the system’s efficiency. We are trying to create more nodal points, making it easy for people to reach out to and in turn understand the ground-level issues,” Sridhar said.

Addressing the panel, MCC Standing Committee on Taxation, Finance and Appeals Chairman Shri Kiran Kumar said, “Once the ward committees are activated, it does not give scope to any political agenda. The procedures, funds etc., need to go through Ward Committees and needs less involvement from political leaders as this may derail the development. I think Ward Committees are a great way for us to move ahead. I feel with Ward Committees, I can share my responsibilities with citizens. Hence praises or not, the responsibility is shared,” he said.

“Everything is possible today, including digitization of details. Water bills, tax inputs are all online now. But all of this will be successful if citizens participate. But we must welcome glitches along with technology; one should be patient about this change,” he said.

“We get a particular budget for development as Corporators. But with Ward Committees Everything has to be clearly informed on what we receive and how we are going to use it. Ward Committees is a great step, where Everything can be discussed in the open, hence enhancing transparency,” said Former Mayor and Falnir Ward Corporator Jacintha Vijay Alfred.

Bendur Ward Corporator Naveen D’Souza said that there are a lot of wrong messages about Corporators doing rounds. “The Corporators need to have support from MCC officials and citizens. Even if people’s representatives have the political will, implementing plans of development poses a challenge. Officials take a lot of control and Ward Committees should ensure that the officials also work as per the system. The corporators need to be given the freedom to make decisions. We need a clear picture from the government as to how we can work on development. With Ward Committees, we can reduce corruption for sure,” D’Souza pointed out.

“SDPI has two corporators in Mangaluru City Corporation. Smt Samshad from Katipalla North as well as in my Bengre ward, we have dedicated every Tuesday as ‘Jana Samparka’ Day, where we connect with the people and have fruitful discussions. Hence, even before the ward committees are announced, we have always focused on citizen participation,” said Bengre Ward Corporator Muneeb Bengre. He further added that with ward committees being formed formally, he is looking forward to collaborating and working with citizens for the holistic development of the ward.

“Listening to citizens’ complaints, building confidence among the people is a matter of utmost importance to me. I look forward to the Ward Committee formation. However, I hope that people are collaborative as only with the collaboration we can achieve all-round development,” said Katipalla North Corporator Samshad Abubaker.

“Mangalore has a very good civic sense. People and corporators are very resourceful. However, even though corporators are committed, their hard work and commitment do not reach the people of the ward. There is a disconnect. An intermediary or an interface is needed, and this is where ward committees come into the picture. It is beneficial. It will lead to grass root level democracy. It was existent in Panchayat level, why not have the same in Urban Local Bodies,” opined Senior Journalist Raghuram Rao.

Urban Research Centre Project Coordinator Harini Shetty said that the 74th amendment speaks about financial progress and social justice. “While all are focused on financial progress, very less importance is given to social justice, women safety and equal distribution of facilities. Another issue people face is they don’t know whom to approach. The ward committees play an important role and can be a platform where people can put forth their views,” she said.

Srinivas Alavilli, Head, Civic Participation at Janaagraha, who moderated the citizens’ interaction with the Corporators said, “Mangaluru is about to become the second city of Karnataka to have ward committees. It is important to have a good start, and hence we created this forum to bring citizens and politicians together – to review the functions of ward committees as specified by the law – and to discuss the practical realities of getting them off the ground.

It is heartening to see the enthusiasm and support for the ward committees from Corporators of all parties. They also expressed disappointment that sometimes the political class is painted negatively. We at Janaagraha sincerely believe that the ward committees will function well if the approach is collaborative and not confrontational. Janaagraha is committed to helping the MCC with necessary training of all stakeholders.”

MCC Co-Founder Nigel Albuquerque, Social Activist G K Bhat were also part of the citizen panel.

Functions of ward committees were explained in detail by Vachana VR and Manjunath HL from Janaagraha.

About City Politics

‘City Politics’ is an initiative by Janaagraha Centre of Citizenship and Democracy, a non-profit NGO that was established in 2001.

Through City Politics, we aim to redefine what politics should ideally mean for our cities. In our efforts, we don’t want to look at politics from the conventional lens of ‘party politics’ but ‘politics’ of anything that affects our quality of life.

Hence with the City Politics Conversations, we hope to connect with & create a thriving community of people passionate about urban politics, policies, concerns, challenges and reforms across neighbourhoods and cities.

About Janaagraha:

Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy is a non-profit trust in the Jana group co-founded by Swati Ramanathan and Ramesh Ramanathan in 2001. Janaagraha’s mission is to transform the quality of life in India’s cities and towns. It works with citizens to catalyze active citizenship in city neighbourhoods and with governments to institute reforms to city governance (what we call “City-Systems”).

The “City-Systems” framework is a whole-of-systems approach to solving for India’s cities and comprises four distinct yet interdependent components: Urban Planning and Design (master plans, design standards for public utilities), Urban Capacities and Resources (municipal finance, municipal staffing and technology), Political Leadership (empowerment, legitimacy) and Transparency and Citizen Participation (public disclosures, citizen participation, service level guarantees and grievance redressal).

You can view the 9th City Politics Webinar: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=2845696945688143&ref=watch_permalink

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