With this election, over-parented Bengaluru may finally grow up!

The most common complaint Bangaloreans have about the city of Bengaluru is about the planning being a disaster. This is especially the case after Bengaluru grew out of its old city limits and ate up rural areas very quickly. All of this, coupled with reckless issue of permissions and corruption, led to disorderly growth in traffic, water usage and even hiving off of lakes for development. The term “well-planned city” is referred to in a utopian way by many.

But come September 16, this is all about to change. Bangalore is one step closer to better planning and coordination between various agencies, with a new committee. One major part of Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) for Bangalore metropolitan area will be constituted, by way of elections. This election will choose 20 members to the MPC.

On September 1, 2014, the Regional Commissioner of Bangalore Division issued the notification for the election of the members of Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) and set the ball rolling.

This announcement of elections leaves only one more thing left: that is, nomination of two experts. Once that is done, the planning process (drafting of city’s master plan and other issues) that was being taken care of by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) will be handled by the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) while the BDA will continue to be the executing authority.

Also, those who are waiting for Akrama-Sakrama implementation now have a reason to cheer, as the High Court had stayed the process of regularisation until the formation of planning committee.

“The government has done this on pressure of the courts. If one looks at the rules and composition of MPC, I doubt whether much will change. I fear this would be an ineffective body, on two counts: One, the power is still with the state government. The true nature of 74th amendment is not there, especially with the CM being on the MPC. The parastatals – BDA, BWSSB etc are still a law unto themselves. There is nothing in the provisions that make these bodies accountable to the MPC as it should be.”

  – Vijayan Menon, civic activist.

Where was this committee so far?

Interestingly enough, politicians and bureaucrats had anticipated that Indian metros will go this way, and in 1992 itself, the Parliament passed a local-government amendment to the Constitution of India (popularly known as 74th Constitution Amendment Act) that mandated the formation of metropolitan planning committees, composed of elected representatives from city councils, panchayats, and state assemblies within a metropolitan region.

This was meant to politically fix some of the great Indian challenges in planning – coordination across authorities and jurisdictions, introducing the concept of citizens’ participation and many other measures with an aim to improve the governance of cities.

One of its provisions was that each metropolitan area having a population of more than 10 lakh should have a planning body, which would integrate the work of different agencies. This would also think and plan both economic and social development, instead of planning just the land use.

It has been 22 years since then. Most state governments have resisted relinquishing planning power over cities to any body with deeper representation, let alone an MPC.

Bangalore’s fight for planning committee pays off

After a long legal battle (WP 21436/2005) fought by C N Kumar, a well-known RTI activist, against the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) and the State of Karnataka, the court ordered the formation of Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPC) and stayed the regularisation of illegal constructions under Akrama Sakrama scheme.

Following this, the government formed the rules for the MPC in hurry, published it on January 4, 2014, and approved the same. Required amendments to include the election procedure in the bill were made in the assembly and published on June 18, 2014. The Chief Minister and all elected members of the Bangalore metropolitan region will be a part of the planning authority.

After the rules were published, the court again ordered the state government to conduct MPC elections. Now finally there is some traction in sight, with the MPC election being notified.

Express elections?

Apparently the elections, to be conducted by Regional Commissioner for Bangalore Division, unlike other regular elections, have been fast-tracked. Tis is obvious by the tight schedule proposed in the notification.

As per the copy of notification Citizen Matters has received, there will be 18 members from among BBMP corporators, elected by other corporators. Two members will be selected by and  from the presidents and vice-presidents of Zilla Panchayats, Taluk Panchayats and Village Panchayats that fall under Bangalore Metropolitan Area.

The nominations will be filed, scrutinised and withdrawn on September 15th, at the Regional Commissioner’s office, in BMTC building, Shanthinagar. One can file the nominations between 11 am and 3 pm. The nominations will be reviewed between 3 pm and 4 pm. One can withdraw the nomination between 4 pm and 5 pm.

If the election of candidates is unanimous, the result will be declared on the same day at 5.30 pm. If there is a need for election, it will be held in BBMP head office at N R Square, on September 16th, between 10 am and 2 pm. Counting of votes will begin at 3pm and the result will be declared on the same day.

Voting procedure

  • Voters of local bodies (presidents and vice-presidents of ZP, TP, GP) should vote for two candidates. If it is more, the vote will be considered invalid.
  • Each corporator can vote for 18 members. If the number is more, the vote will become invalid.
  • Voting will be conducted through secret ballot method.
  • Voters (corporators / local body members) should bring voter id card or any other id proof to cast the vote.

What will the MPC look like?

According to the final rules published by the government, the MPC will be structured like this:

A) 10 nominated members from the government, namely,

  1. The Chief Minister – Member
  2. The Minister for Urban Development – Member
  3. The Principal Secretary to Government, Urban Development – Member
  4. One Representative of Government of India (Chief Town Planner, town and Country Planning Organisation) – Member
  5. Commissioner, Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority, (BMRDA) – Member
  6. Commissioner, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) – Member
  7. Chairman, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board – Member
  8. Director, Town and Country Planning Department – Member
  9. Secretary to Government, Finance Department – Member
  10. Commissioner, Bangalore Development Authority – Member Secretary

This list is the draft form had BESCOM Managing Director and BDA Chairman as members, which is replaced by BBMP Commissioner and Town Planning Department Director.

B) Twenty elected members for which the election is now being conducted. Bangalore Mayor hasn’t found a place in the MPC officially, hence if the Mayor wants to join MPC, he has to contest elections and join MPC as one among the 18 members from BBMP.

(c) Special Invitees: Two persons out of eminent economists and professionals, having experience in Town Planning, nominated by the State Government shall be special invitees.

(d) Permanent Invitees: All the members of the House of the people and the State Legislative Assembly whose constituencies lie within the Bangalore Metropolitan area and members of the Council of States and the State Legislative council who are registered as electors in such area shall be permanent invitees.

Chairperson of the committee will be chosen among the members. The Commissioner of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) is authorised to convene the meetings of the committee as and when required.

BDA will continue to be the secretariat of planning committee. The MPC can constitute subcommittees as and when required.

The push given to the formation of MPC has brought cheers to the urban planners and activists who were lobbying for it for a long time now. This also means that once the MPC is formed officially, long-awaited regularisation of byelaw violations under Akrama-Sakrama can start, which will bring cheers to lot of investors and citizens who want their properties regularised.

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Shree D N
About Shree D N 74 Articles
Shree D N is an associate editor with Citizen Matters.

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