‘Ward Committees in 60 MCC Wards MAY be formed on 15 February’- Assures MCC Commissioner
- ‘Ward Committees in 60 Mangaluru City Corporation Wards MAY be formed on 15 February’- Assures MCC Commissioner Akshy Sridhar, when members of MCC Civic Group along with members of Karnataka Ward Samithi Vedike leading Institutionalizing Citizen Participation in MCC met MCC Commissioner Akshy Sridhar recently
Mangaluru: It should be noted that over thousand two hundred Ward committee applications have been submitted by Dec 4th, 2020. Today it’s over two months since the passing of that milestone and unfortunately, until this day nothing has been materialized. The MCC civic group under the leadership of Nigel Albuquerque and Ajoy D’Silva had swung into action, ensuring that this constitutional right should not be unnecessarily delayed by the bureaucracy. Through the use of social media tools like Facebook and WhatsApp, the team mobilized roughly 30 like-minded citizens who had the opportunity to meet the joint commissioner and commissioner after an agonizing wait of over two hours, last month. These citizens come from all walks of life and all age groups, each motivated to get ward committees the attention it deserves from the administration.
The first meeting which was held in the month of January 2021 with the joint commissioner was unexpected and happened since the commissioner wasn’t present in the building. The joint commissioner was courteous and listened patiently to the questions from the group. Here is an excerpt of the questions asked: It has been a month since the applications have been formed, what is the progress?
Since very little has been achieved in the month since the group pressed the joint commissioner for more tangible work that will result in expedited outcomes, the joint commissioner indicated he will increase the Data entry staff from 1 current to 10 to ensure that the snail’s pace of work picks up and processes the prospective applications. The joint commissioner did however clarify that he is not the decision-maker and that all suggestions and questions be directed to the decision-maker, the MCC Commissioner.
After meeting the joint commissioner, the Team waited an additional hour to get a hold of the MCC commissioner. During this meeting, citizens voiced the need for expedited processing of the applications and also a definitive timeline from start to finish. The commissioner provided an understanding of the process involved, the various moving parts, and the challenges that impact and affect the Ward Committee selection process. The MCC civic group pressed for a timeline so that the citizens have clarity on when ward committees will get practically started. To this, the MCC commissioner gave a timeline of mid-February for the completion of the process end to end.
Nigel Albuquerque pressed ahead with targeted questions regarding the selection team and the need for unbiased selection of Ward Committee members and the need for fairness in the selection process. The MCC commissioner indicated that the political entities would be given an opportunity to provide their feedback on the ward committees’ applicants. The MCC civic group flagged this and strongly suggested that this is antithetical and would defeat the purpose of the Ward Committee. Such feedback will almost certainly result in the politicians trying their best to remove citizens who have the best interests of the Ward at heart since such citizens would be vigilant and bring accountability to the politicians who have been used to unilateral decision making that has little to do with efficient use of taxpayer resources and the needs of the residents of the Ward. The thought being why would a person encourage critics of their shoddy work? The commissioner did ponder and indicated he was open to suggestions.
The MCC commissioner further added that the selection committee would be composed of officials from the MCC and when pressed with objections from the group, asked us to trust the system and the officials. The group shared their skepticism of such an opaque selection process and implored for transparency and the assurance that the best candidates find a place in the Ward Committees. Mangaluru has been severely degraded by the corporators’ decisions and plans and the ward committees have to provide the necessary checks and balances. The next point of discussion revolved around the criteria for Ward Committee membership and the need for the ability to move excess eligible Ward Committee applicants to the ward that may have deficient numbers should the need arise. The selection criteria for corporators was also highlighted and parity requested by the group to ensure fairness.
Post discussion, Nigel had also added that Area Sabhas, ward secretaries, and other similar constitutional positions need to be filled and created as soon as possible. The MCC commissioner indicated the process will coincide with the Ward Committee timeline. He responded positively to everyone’s pertinent Ward Committee questions, saying – everything understood as on 4th January is on course as on date.
Once again last week, the Team met Commissioner Akshy Sridhar, and this is what he had to say, “Top 4 officials of MCC inclusive of himself will comprise the Selection Committee; Selecting 600 Ward Committee MEMBERS and subsequent inviting of objections is yet to be completed; 60 Ward Committees will indeed be finalized and ready to function as on 15th February, give and take five days.
MCC Civic Group in association with Karnataka Ward Samithi Vedike leading Institutionalizing Citizen Participation in MCC is all set for a logical conclusion. Speaking to Team Mangalorean, the Founder member of MCC Civic Group Nigel Albuquerque said, “We have facilitated the establishment of the new system of local self-governance in MCC. Taking it forward and evolving into the true spirit of the 74th Constitutional Amendment is for the finalized 600 Ward Committee MEMBERS. The Ward Committees’ application process in Mangaluru received an overwhelming response, with over 1000 citizens submitting applications. We have organized a webinar on 12 February at 10:30 am, where MCC Commissioner Akshy Sridhar will explain the overall process during the 9th City Politics Event – ‘Citizens and Politicians join hands for Ward Committees in Mangaluru’, which will explore how citizens and the elected representatives can partner for the betterment of the city. MCC Mayor Diwakar Pandeshwar will speak on how Ward Committees in Mangaluru will help in collaborative governance. Join us on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/91741418991
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