BBMP elections: a people’s manifesto

Bangalore People’s Forum has recently come up with a manifesto for the consideration of voters and candidates participating in elections in BBMP electiions 2010.

The forum consists of the following organisations.  ActionAid, Alternate Law Forum, Centre for Education and documentation, CIVIC, Community Health Cell, Concerned for Working Children, Environment Support Group (Environment, Social Justice and Governance Initiatives), Garment and Textile Workers Union, Hasiru Usiru, Hengasara Hakkina Sangha, Janasahyog, Janarogya Andholan Karnataka (PHM-KA), Kilikili, Maraa, Nightingales Medical Trust, Sahajeeran, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled, Sangama, Save Bangalore Committee, Slum Jagattu, The Avenue Road Traders Associations, Vimochana

Introduction

All efforts of the Karnataka Government to deny the people of Bangalore their fundamental right to choose their local government has been defeated by landmark decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Karnataka in response to Public Interest Litigations.   As a result elections to BBMP will now be held on 28 March 2010.

Bengalureans have been denied their due right to shape their city for over seven years due to the absence of an elected body.  In this period a highly unaccountable and centralised bureaucratic raj took over, giving very little opportunity for citizens to be involved in local decisions.  The impact was apparent everywhere:  quality of basic services significantly declined, even as money and public resources were invested in projects and schemes in a wholly intransparent manner.

The opportunity now exists to renew our tryst with local democracy and begin shaping our city.  Municipal elections are key drivers in shaping our city.  Choose the wrong candidate, and vote on the wrong set of issues, the impact is likely to be irreversible.  Contrarily, if candidates were to agree to People’s real issues of concerns, and get voted, they are likely to follow up on election promises during their term in office.

With this in context, many not-for-profit voluntary and public interest organisations working with a variety of communities and on a range of issues met over the past several months to collate a People’s Manifesto.  Several meetings and discussions within and across sectors was the basis of preparing this Manifesto which is a distilled version of various progressive policies and measures that we feel people of Bengaluru deserve.  The list of issues and concerns raised in the Manifesto are meant to be indicative and not all comprehensive.

We urge you as a Voter or Candidate or Public Spirited Campaigner to use this Manifesto as a basis to make a wise choice while participating in the BBMP elections.

Governance

There must be meaningful and total implementation of the Nagarpalika Act. This can be achieved in the following ways:

BBMP Administration

• BBMP should be administered by a Mayor-in-council system, wherein the mayor will be elected from amongst the BBMP corporators for a non-recurring period of 2 ½ years.  
• As a progressive initiative, the office of Mayor must alternate between different genders.
• BBMP Council should function in an inclusive manner that would ensure meaningful participation of all marginalised religious and non-religious minority groups.

Ward Committee Functioning

• Democratic participation must be deepened by constituting ward committees in every ward, as a basic unit of urban governance.  
• Ward Committee members must be directly elected.
• A progressive and inclusive Bangalore can only be achieved by ensuring Ward Committees are allowed to function autonomously.  This has to be done by ensuring that adequate administrative and financial resources are available for the healthy functioning of Ward Committees.
• Ward Committee meetings should mandatorily be held at least once every month and must be forums open to the wide public at all times.
 
Ward Committee Representation

• Members elected to Ward Committees must be representative of the diversity in society and particularly ensure due representation for women, Dalits, minorities, urban poor and such other vulnerable sections of society.  Representatives of children should be encouraged and facilitated to take part in the ward committee meetings.
• Special Children’s Ward Committee meetings should be organised similar to Children’s Grama Sabhas now mandated for all Panchayats.

Budget for BBMP

• BBMP Budget should be evolved from the ward level up, and done in a transparent, accountable and participatory manner.
• All obligatory and delegated municipal functions of the BBMP should be adequately funded.  Lack of resources should not be a reason for not implementing such functions.
• All investments in existing or new projects should only be undertaken as a component of the BBMP Budget.  External financing and borrowings, therefore, can only be accepted if they are part of the BBBMP Budget.
• Social equity considerations must be fundamental to allocation of resources in the BBMP Budget.
• There must be proportionate allocation and distribution of resources in projects, and this must be based on the actual populations of vulnerable groups, such as urban poor, women, children, elderly, disabled, transgenders, street and working children, etc.
• Revenue earnings from land and property transactions within BBMP jurisdiction must be allotted  for sustenance of BBMP.  

Urban and Regional Planning

• Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) must immediately be constituted as the planning agency, as required per the Nagarpalika Act.
• BBMP shall implement projects, schemes and infrastructure based on plans developed by the MPC.
• Existing para-statal planning bodies such as BMRDA, BDA, etc., which are undemocratic and non-participatory, must be phased out.  Their technical competence could be integrated into MPC.
• BBMP should become the preeminent agency for implementing projects and schemes relating to the items listed in the 12th Schedule of the Constitution.  Consequently,  funds, functions and functionaries that are distributed in various para-statal agencies dealing with issues such as food, water, shelter, primary health, education, etc. must be reallocated to work under BBMP.
• Extraconstitutional and illegal bodies, such as ABIDe, must be immediately abolished.  All projects promoted and undertaken by ABIDe and such other bodies must be suspended forthwith, and subjected to a thorough review of a Joint Legislature Committee and also by the BBMP.

Representation

•    Reservation of seats in BBMP must be in conformance with applicable National and State Legislations and Policies.  
•    BBMP should become an example by ensuring that the Council and all Committees under its jurisdiction will reserve 50% of seats for women, and also ensure adequate representation for people with disabilities.

Public Health

• The fundamental right of Health for All must be protected in all BBMP schemes and programmes.
• All health facilities managed by BBMP must be transformed into comprehensive Primary Health Centres.  Care must be taken to ensure that a Primary Health Centre is available for every unit population of 50,000, and a sub-centre for every 10,000 people.
• Ward Committee should play a fundamental role in monitoring and planning of health services, especially of Public Health Centres and sub-centres.
• Public heath facilities should not be privatised.
• Adequate financing should be provided to run public health facilities to meet evolving standards.
• No user fees should be charged in any BBMP health centres.  
• Essential medical supplies must be provided in adequate quantities and at no cost to the patients.
• Patients’ Grievance Cell should be established in all health centres/Public Heath Centres and a toll-free telephone number should be instituted to ensure quality services free from corruption.
• Communities with special needs should be provided health services through specialised interventions of Community Health Experts.
• BBMP should play a leading role in regulating against extortive practices of private healthcare providers.

Accessibility

• All urban infrastructure and public use buildings must be fully accessible.
• Public commons and institutions such as roads, stations, airports, bus stands, banks, hospitals, schools, public offices, parks, etc. must be made fully accessible.  
• BBMP must conduct regular audits of all such facilities to ensure full accessibility.
• BBMP must set up a special cell to protect and implement the rights of people with disabilities.
• The needs of the disabled and children must be fully met in designing and developing pedestrian infrastructure.
• Disabled Information Systems must be integrated into all plans and schemes developed from the Ward level up.

Mobility and Public Transport

• All spaces of mobility must protect and preserve the right of way of pedestrians and cyclists.
• All roads and neighbourhoods of Bangalore must be pedestrian and cyclist friendly.  
• Cycling lanes must be secure and interconnected to ensure one can cycle anywhere in the city as a major means of travel.  All streets must necessarily be shaded with closed canopy trees to encourage cycling and walking as carbon-neutral modes of transport.
• BBMP must set up a cell to encourage cycling, walking and other carbon-neutral practices.
• Pedestrian-crossings should be mandatorily be at grade, that is, at surface level.
• Prioritized right of way and protection must be assured for pedestrians, cyclists, people with disability, children and senior citizens.
• Signal-free corridors must be scrapped forthwith, as they threaten the lives of the disabled, children and the elderly, and cause needless displacement of livelihoods and properties.
• Popular public places, business and city centres should be pedestrian and bicycle only zones on weekends.
• BBMP must institute a comprehensive accident support and rehabilitation package for  victims of road accidents.
• Public transport vehicles must be given priority on all roads.
• Plans evolved by MPC should be the basis for developing all public transport and mobility areas.
• Public transport facilities must be cheap and accessible to all economic classes of society.
• Urban poor, migrant workers and climate refugees should benefit from subsidized daily and monthly public transport passes.
• Strong disincentives, such as high parking fees, should be introduced to discourage the use of private vehicles in densely crowded areas and city centres.  
• Arterial roads must be decongested by disallowing parking.
• Investments made in public transport must be economically viable and equitable. Bus Rapid Transit systems, which are cheap, accessible and functional, should be preferred over expensive and unviable projects like the Bangalore Metro, High Speed Rail Link, Monorail and elevated roads.
• BBMP should make optimal and intelligent use of streets and other transport infrastructure.  A good way forward is avoid investments in wasteful and disruptive projects, such as road-widening, flyovers, underpasses, etc.
• Ward Committees must integrate various departmental inputs in instituting Traffic Calming measures and thus build safety on roads.

Culture

• BBMP must actively encourage the arts and cultural practice in Bangalore.  
• Ward committees and the wide public must be involved in organising cultural events, art projects and such other activities.
• Artistes must be involved in regularly organising urban arts and culture festivals.
• BBMP must constitute a Standing Committee to encourage and finance cultural events and also address grievances.
• Art and aesthetics in the public realm should not neglect the representation of local and regional cultural diversity.  
• Moral policing should be actively discouraged, and thus protect artistic license.
• Ward Committees should support community media spaces, such as public art projects, film and documentary festivals, street theatre, etc.

Parks and Open Spaces

• Park, playgrounds and open spaces are public commons and should be protected from any and all encroachments.
• Access to all public commons must be free of cost.
• BBMP must create and protect dedicated play spaces for younger children and play grounds for older children in each ward.
• All parks and playgrounds must be fully accessible.  Play equipment must be sensitively designed to accommodate the needs of disabled children.
• Park furniture and play equipment must be maintained in excellent condition.  
• Parks and open spaces must be provided and maintained equitable and poorer communities should not be discriminated against.
• Parks must be made useful for all users, and not just for walkers.
• Children must have unrestricted access to parks at all waking hours, and the design should allow unstructured and free play.
• Parks must be open from early hours of the morning to late hours of the night, and with adequate provisions of basic facilities to ensure safety and security.
• Ward Committees, parents, children and the elderly should be fundamentally involved in decisions relating to the creation and maintenance of parks and open spaces.
• Parks should not replace playgrounds and vice versa.  
• Every ward should have the right mix of parks and open spaces, including play space for younger children and playgrounds for teenagers and younger adults.   
• Parks and open spaces should be a safe walking distance from the neighbourhoods.

 
• Parks should also be well lit, safe, sanitary and provided with toilet and drinking water facilities.
• Historical parks such as Lalbagh, Cubbon Park, etc. should be fully and freely accessible and must be evolved into spaces of environmental and cultural education.
• BBMP should actively resist any effort or attempt to restrict entry to parks and open spaces based on ID cards or such other retrograde and unconstitutional methods.
• There should not be any restriction to enter parks and open spaces on grounds of class, caste, creed, religion, gender, etc.

Heritage

•  BBMP should evolve a comprehensive policy to protect the city’s heritage.
•  BBMP should set up a Standing Committee on Heritage Conservation which should be backed by an interdisciplinary panel including architects, artistes, urban planners, sociologists, anthropologists, ecologists, environmentalists, archaelogists, foresters, etc.
•  BBMP must initiate active steps to declare old neighbourhoods, canopied streets, old markets, and the like as living heritages in conformance with UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
• Heritage conservation should focus on the need to protect living heritage, natural heritage, streetscapes, crafts, craft skills, vernacular heritage, and other intangible heritage in addition to monuments and structures.  
• All heritage sites should be maintained well and be accessible to all.
• BBMP should encourage schools and colleges to be involved in heritage conservation.
• Heritage zones should be labelled with uniquely identifiable signages to build awareness amongst the wide public of the heritage that surrounds them.
• Projects documenting Bangalore’s heritage (both tangible and intangible) via video, writings, audio and any other media should be encouraged.
• BBMP should actively encourage heritage conservation by building a network of cultural ambassadors and sponsors.

Natural resource management

BBMP must constitute a Standing Committee on Environment, Tree Protection, Urban Forestry, Watershed Management and Biodiversity Conservation to aid in the conservation of the city’s biodiversity, greenery, lakes, watersheds, etc. The task of this Committee should also involve building public awareness on various ecological and environmental issues of the city. An interdisciplinary commitee of advisors including landscape ecologists, urban forestry professionals, limnologists, ecologists, environmentalists, etc. may be set up to assist the Committee in discharging its functions.

Trees and Urban Forestry

• BBMP must work with the Forest Department in immediately developing a database of all trees in its jurisdication in conformance with the Karnataka Preservation of Trees act, 1976.
• Old canopied streets, tree and park lined avenues, gunduthopus and devarakaadus must be declared as Heritage Zones and also protected as wildlife corridors for birds and other tree dwelling animals.  
• Tree planting and green roofing must be actively encouraged as a means of controlling noise and air pollution and also to create cool micro-climatic zones.  
• The utility of tree shaded areas in conserving energy of buildings must be actively highlighted, and unnecessary tree felling must be actively discourage in public and private areas.
• Tree Patta schemes (providing the patta holder recovery of usufructs) must be introduced to encourage planting and protection of endemic trees in all neighbourhoods.
• All roads must be shaded with trees to encourage carbon neutral and healthy practices such as walking and cycling, and also as protective measures for street vendors.
• Large scale plantation of endemic and locally useful trees must be undertaken to bring back lost greeney to Bangalore. The target must be to plant 1 crore trees in the next five years.

Lakes

• BBMP must actively support socially and ecologically sensitive methods of protection, restoration and maintenance of lakes and lake systems.
• Ward Committees and local communities should be actively involved in all efforts relating to management and protection of lakes.
• All decisions relating to lake rehabilitation or development must only be taken through statutory Public Consultations particularly involving those whose livelihoods depend on the waterbodies.   
• All lakes within BBMP jurisdiction must be protected and maintained as public commons and ecologically viable spaces accessible to all and no privatisation must be encouraged or allowed.  
• BBMP must recommend to the State Government to declare all lakes within its jurisdictional limits as reserved forests so as to provide them heightenend protection against pollution, encroachment and destruction.
• All Raja Kaluves must be rehabilitated as water conservation zones by developing appropriate vegetation, tree cover and tackling water pollution.
• Encroachments must be dealt with strictly with a humanistic approach that does not violate the Right to Housing of the urban poor.
• In peri urban areas of Bangalore city, where wetlands still exist, land owners must be provided incentives to practice agriculture, horticulture, tree farming, etc.

Forests

• BBMP must play an active collaborative role to protect urban forests from encroachment, waste dumping and other such destructive activities.  
• BBMP must assist the Forest Department in protecting biodiversity rich areas and encourage activities of Ward Committees and local communities in protecting and conservation of these forests as spaces for environmental education and ecological appreciation.
• Wildlife Corridors in urban areas must be protected from urbanisation, encroachment and all forms of pollution.
• Schools and colleges must be actively involved in protection and conservation of urban forests as part of the curriculum and as an obligatory duty to protect the environment.
• Degraded and encroached forest lands must be recovered and developed into tree parks with endemic species.

Public education

• BBMP should ensure education for all.
• BBMP must set up a Standing Committee on Education to review quality of education, provision of safe and secure infrastructure (including from fire hazards), space for play and cultural activity, nutrition of children and provision of wholesome education.
• An extensive network of aganwadis and ICDS centres must be provided, and near schools, work areas and in all neighbourhoods.
• Mid-day meal schemes must be provided without any prejudice to cultural norms.  Programmes must be evolved to provide mid-day meals to children in need during school holidays.
• BBMP must not shut down schools or privatise educational facilities in its jurisdiction.
• BBMP must build its capacity to undertake maintenance of all State run schools in its jurisdiction.
• Living facilities in BBMP run hostels for students must be maintained at the highest standards, particularly ensuring safety of girl students.

Social justice and livelihoods for all

•  BBMP must set up a Standing Committee on Worker Protection, Employment Generation and Social Security with an intention of promoting self-employment, provision of social security to those employed, social assistance to the destitute and ensure labour and occupational rights are protected.
• BBMP should be an equal opportunity employer and ensure due representation is provided to women, disabled persons (3 per cent), transgenders, minorities, etc.
• BBMP must fully implement fully labour and occupational safety laws in all its projects and schemes and have zero tolerance for violators.
• BBMP should be guided by the National Policy on Street Vendors and ensure livelihood spaces of the poor on the streets and other public spaces are not compromised in any of its schemes and projects.
• BBMP must ensure that day and night crèches are available offering complete childcare and must be accessible to all.
• BBMP must strengthen and fully implement Swarna Jayanthi Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) as a means to provide gainful employment to urban unemployed and under-employed poor. SJSRY staff should be placed in each ward and the finances allocated in the budget must be spent on creating jobs and not allowed to lapse.
• BBMP must have least tolerance for violation of the law on equal wages for equal work.
• BBMP must initiate programmes and schemes to organise regular health camps for all workers.

Protection of Unorganised Workers

•  BBMP must prohibit engagement of contract labour in its works as a step towards preventing exploitation of workers.
•  BBMP must ensure strict compliance of the Contract Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act in any work involving contract labour including construction work, factories, and other private enterprises.
•  BBMP must evolve specific welfare scheme and policies for workers in the unorganized sector and build awareness on the various schemes made under the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2009.
•  BBMP must evolve awareness and practices to ensure that workers in the unorganized sector who belong to the SC/ST communities become beneficiaries in various scheme under the 18% budget.
•  BBMP should permit any construction project only when the applicant has demonstrated total compliance with Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, the Building and other Construction Workers Act, the Minimum Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act and Contract Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. Further, the permit must be based on demonstation of provision of  a detailed ‘Construction Workers Residential Quarters and Living Conditions Plan’ that includes details relating to the living conditions in terms of quality of housing, latrines, water supply, electricity, creches, etc.

Welfare of elders

•  BBMP must set up Day Care Centres for the elderly with provision of multiple services like recreation, physical fitness regimes, integrating assistive technologies and should be fully accessible.
•  Focussed Healthcare for the Elderly must be a component of all public healthcare delivery systems.
•  Elderly must be provided free access to public transport systems within BBMP  jurisdiction.
•  BBMP must ensure decentralised and comprehensive distribution of nutritive food  programmes for elders in poor families.
•  BBMP must introduce a Pension scheme for the elders in need.

Child labour

• BBMP must immediately implement a comprehensive, multi-pronged, bottom-up, decentralised and participatory approach to addressing the problem of child labour in Bangalore.
• BBMP should adopt an enabling and empowering strategy in dealing with child labour, and ensure that its policies and programmes do not criminalise or harm working children.
• Consultations with working children must form the basis for developing and implementing schemes and programmes that respond to child labour.   
• BBMP plans and schemes must be child rights friendly based on micro and the macro effects that cause child labour.

Children’s rights

•  BBMP must implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
•  All city plans, schemes and projects must be based on consultations with children on lines of “bala gramasabhas” held in Panchayats.
•  BBMP must set up systems of social/community monitoring within each Ward Committee to assist children in times of crises and to prevent violations of their rights.
•  BBMP must allocate adequate resources to tackle issues that affect children directly or indirectly.

Urban poverty

•  BBMP must provide sale deeds to all residents of the 225 slums within its jurisdiction.
•  No slum eviction should be undertaken without providing comprehensive and humane rehabilitation as per the due process of law.
•  No slum demolition must be undertaken in the night or on rainy days.
•  BBMP must suitably act to ensure that no one in the city is left homeless.
•  Day and Night Shelters must be adequately provided to support the needs of street and working children and other destitute people.

Animal welfare

• BBMP must ensure that animal rights are fully protected.
• The Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme for street dog management must be strengthened by involving Ward Committees.
• Progressive waste management practices and strict regulation of abattoirs must be undertaken to prevent explosion of street dog and rodent populations.
• Humane catching practices of stray animals must be introduced.
• BBMP must develop a strong team of Animal Welfare Inspectors.
• Pet trade must be strictly regulated by enforcing registration.
• Conditions in which animals are housed must meet applicable standards.
• BBMP must work with Forest Department and Karnataka Biodiversity Board to enforce ban on import and trade in exotic species.
• A crematorium for pets and other animals must be established.

Planning for disasters

• BBMP must establish a Disaster Management Cell to prepare, avert and respond to all natural and unnatural disasters.
• Disaster preparedness must be heightened in the general population through systematic and comprehensive education programmes through Ward Committees.
• All neighbourhoods must be graded for disaster preparedness and response strategies developed to meet any eventuality.
• BBMP must flood proof low lying areas on a priority basis.
• Wards must be the repositories of maps and designs of infrastructure such as water supply and distribution systems, storm water drains, land use, building plans, electricity supply and distribution and such other information in order to assist quick responses in the event of a disaster.
• Hazardous processes and industries manufacturing explosive and volatile products, must be phased out from densely populated areas.

Waste management

• BBMP must be comprehensively in-charge and totally responsible for managing the city’s solid waste.  
• Privatisation of solid waste management should be phased out as it breeds corruption and has resulted in a public health crisis.
•  Pourakarmikas should be provided all aids and comforts required for their occupational needs. They must be provided free comprehensive health care and any casualty should be dealt with under the Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1923.
• BBMP must adopt progressive, low-cost, environmentally friendly solid waste management programmes based on segregation of waste at source.
• BBMP must ensure that there should not be any mixing of the municipal waste stream with biomedical and hazardous wastes.
• All neighbourhoods should develop composting and recycling units.  Only non-compostible, non-recyclable, hazardous and biomedical wastes must be removed in their segregated forms to appropriate landfills.
• Only hazardous wastes that cannot be recycled or composted should be sent for safe treatment and sanitary landfills.
•  BBMP must take initiative to punish violators of laws relating to Municipal Solid Waste, Hazardous wastes and Biomedical Wastes.
•  Landfills must be developed only in full conformance with applicable laws, in particular the Environment Impact Assessment Notification and should not be located near human settlements and ecologically sensitive areas.
•  BBMP must ensure that waste is not dumped on road-sides, in lakes, in forests, in surrounding farm lands, etc.   ⊕

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for sharing! We hope that this document proves useful in helping people choose candidates and in provoking discussion in the city.

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