Months before the city goes for civic polls, over 250 ward committee members spread over 100 wards convened to brainstorm ideas to empower ward committees and make them more effective, at the Bruhat Bengaluru Ward Samiti Samavesha, organised by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy in the city on Saturday.
A survey conducted among ward committee members revealed that the lack of Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to conduct meetings was the biggest problem plaguing committee meetings. The conclave resolved demanding the chief civic commissioner to issue clear guidelines on when and how to conduct the meetings. Communication of date, venue, and time of the meeting continues to be a problem. Many members demanded wide publicity has to be given and some suggested announcing the same through public addressal systems on garbage collection vehicles. Several members also said that ward committee members have no usable data to facilitate informed decision making.
Another issue that many members raised was that there was no mechanism to hold anyone accountable for the implementation of decisions taken by the committee and there was no escalation mechanism in place for follow-up action. The convention demanded that the chief commissioner make zonal commissioners responsible for the follow-up actions.
Since after the civic polls, ward committees will be reconstituted along with the new council, the convention demanded that the civic body draft a new process for selection of ward committee members and publish it for public review. The new process must enable transparency in ward committee member selection and the roles and responsibilities of committee members well defined.
While most ward committee meetings have turned into grievance redressal meetings, the convention demanded that committees must be empowered to decide on budgeting for the ward in the coming years. IT suggested the meetings in November and December should be dedicated to discussing budgeting and these inputs should be collated at the city level for the civic budget.
“The convention that met on Saturday will organise itself as Bruhat Bengaluru Ward Samiti Balaga, which will act as a pressure group to empower ward committees. The suggestions and resolutions that have come up at the Samavesha will be submitted to the civic administration for further action,” said Srinivas Alavilli, chief, civic participation, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy.