In what may perhaps rank as the first budget proposal of its kind, Citizen’s Voluntary Initiative of the City (CIVIC) in association Jago submitted a Participatory Budget Proposal of Sagayapuram (ward number 60) to B Palaniammal, the councillor of the ward, in an event held on Friday, May 7th.
The budget proposal is for the year 2010-11 The meet was held at Alphonsus High School Hall on Davis Road from 4.30 to 6.30 pm. Jago is a seven year old coalition of Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWA’s) and Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) in Bangalore East.
“This activity must be replicated in each ward of BBMP," A Sivasankaran, President, Jago Federation said at the public meeting. This meet saw over seventy residents from Sagayapuram (comprising of Richards Town, Lazar Layout, Bagalur Layout) and others from nearby wards, participate actively. BBMP officials say it plans to consider the budget proposal in its future undertakings in the ward.
CIVIC had spearheaded the effort to understand the problems, needs and demographics of the residents in the ward. They have prepared a budget and drafted a comprehensive budget listing the Programme of Works such as drainage repair, street lights replacement, cementing roads, constructing houses and community toilets, renovating schools and so on. The document also includes information such as the cost, location, priority, BBMP department and so on associated with each job. Some of the RWA’s and CSO’s along with CIVIC have jointly created detailed maps for each neighbourhood which assist citizens in specifying their existing issues and urgent demands to the BBMP.
Although, the groups had invited H Prasanna Kumar, MLA, Pulekeshinagar (Frazer Town) and Venkataramana N Nayak, Additional Commissioner, BBMP, Bangalore East, neither attended the event.
Before Palaniammal’s delayed arrival (around 5.30 pm), K G Shashidhar, General Secretary of the Richards Town Residents Association (RTRA), one of the local RWA’s, welcomed and briefed everyone about the event’s objectives. According to Harish Poovaiah of CIVIC, detailed maps for each neighbourhood will assist citizens in specifying their existing issues and urgent demands to the BBMP and also help them in tracking the problem resolution status by the civic body.
Sivasankaran mentioned that the estimated infrastructure development work in the area requires nearly Rs 20 crores over a period of two or three years. (The BBMP allocates Rs 6 crores to every ward, annually).
In the budget plan, over Rs 3 crores is assigned to providing accommodation and sanitation to the economically backward neighbourhoods of Bagalur and Giddappa layouts, Pottery Road and so on. For road improvements (asphalting, concreting, widening) and street lighting Rs 1 1/2 crores have been alloted. The rest is distributed among public restrooms (87 lakhs), garbage collection and disposal, maintaining schools and an anganwaadi, parks and trees and so on.
“Ward work that are due from BWSSB, BESCOM, BMTC and so on are being taken up shortly to scale up the Participatory Planning Process”, Sivasankaran added.
In a conversation with Citizen Matters, Viresh A M of CIVIC traced the origins of the exercise to his organisation’s local area study of April 2009 in Sagayapuram along with Maitri, an NGO that works on bettering the lives of ‘slum’ dwellers.
The study found out those residents of Bagalur, Sagayapuram and Richards Town (an upmarket locality) were divided in their immediate requirements and priorities. The former has been grossly neglected like ‘slums’ elsewhere and lacks fundamental facilities. Through regular dialogues with various RWA’s, CSO’s, community groups and individuals, Viresh and others succeeded in collectively addressing the community’s concerrns.
Then, in mid January 2010, RWA’s, CSO’s and CIVIC together mooted the idea of a participatory budget to Venkataramana Nayak and later to Somesh M C, Executive Engineer (Projects), BBMP. Somesh and relevant Assistant Engineers (AE’s) and Assistant Executive Engineers (AEE’s) gave their suggestions during further discussions on the subject.
Bharati, Lourdes Mary, Tulasi, Fatima (name changed) from the Desanagar low income locality in Sagayapuram were among those who attended last Friday’s programme. They say BBMP is already building around 100 houses in their area and they hope this will continue. The budget proposal recommends BBMP to build another 400 houses for the lower income group.
Interestingly, some of the ward’s residents who were involved in preparing the maps have printed their personal signatures on them, ensuring ownership. Those who gave inputs to the budget recommendations comprised around twenty people like Premila G, Secretary, Richards Town Citizens Association (RTCA) and Sita H, one of its active members. They have all been actively involved in the regular ward-sabha discussions on civic issues that the RWA’s are organising regularly. BBMP officials were present only at a few of these meets despite invitations.
Receiving and noting the proposal’s contents, Somesh, however, claimed, “Work done from 2007 onwards has been intact!”. Learning of his constant support to the participatory budget preparation and positive contributions to the ward, Citizen Matters asked him if the response and delivery would continue if he moved to a different location or role. “That should not be person dependent”, he replied, betraying some diffidence. Palaniammal barely addressed the spectators, merely assuring action.
“We need youngsters to continue working to resolve local civic issues as we are old and retired” echoed Syed Rashid and Mohammed Javed Azam, Secretary and Treasurer of Jago who live in nearby Kadugodanahalli (ward number 30).
Robert John and his wife Eva, residents of Davis Road decided to attend after reading the event’s notice. Their sustained campaign for creating an effective garbage clearance mechanism by the BBMP has not been very fruitful.
The event ended with E T Ponnukuttan, Executive Committee member, RTCA thanking the BBMP representatives and all participants. He urged them to persist in supporting civic initiatives in their neighbourhood and ward. ⊕