The Committee for Restructuring BBMP has released a preliminary report and sought more time to complete the work given to it. The report was released on Tuesday, December 23rd 2014.
The report promises more involvement for citizens. It says that a website is under construction and will be an important vehicle to disseminate the committee’s activities and get feedback from stakeholders, particularly citizens. A very important element of the committee’s consultations will be to understand the expectations of citizens from the restructuring exercise, the report states.
The committee formed in September 2014 has B S Patil (retired IAS officer), Siddaiah (retired IAS officer) and V Ravichandar (urban expert) as the members and IAS officer P Manivannan as the member secretary.
GIS mapping to be used in big way
The report reveals that there are plans to use Geographic Information System and spatial mapping in a big way. The report says: “An exercise of this magnitude with long-lasting implications for the future of Bengaluru will need a detailed spatial analysis through the use of GIS. While many government agencies do have different levels of GIS information residents in their systems, it will be necessary to bring them all on one platform (with ward characteristics mapping as the focus) designed to serve the interests of the BBMP restructuring exercise. Subsequently, any gaps in the spatial information need to be worked on.”
The GIS maps will have various layers, as below:
- Base map: Transport infrastructure, Water bodies, Valleys, Built space, Open spaces
- Population, Area and Boundaries Map: Wards, Population, Area, Households
- Activity, Growth layer: Industries, Commercial, Construction activity, Future growth
- Revenue layer: Property tax revenues and tax paid details for each property
- Services Map: Housing types, prices, Water, Sewerage, Energy, Education, Police, etc.
The GIS exercise is proposed to be taken up from January 2015 and is expected to take 3-4 months.
Better planning is the focus of the Committee
The outcome of the BBMP restructuring exercise has to result in better access to quality civic services by all citizens and clear-cut accountability of all service providers. In this context, it will be necessary to clearly lay out the roles and responsibilities of the elected representatives and the administration officials. This will need a detailed understanding of how the current roles and responsibilities are structured and the lacunae in the current arrangements.
Another important element of the committee’s task while deciding on the contours of what needs to be done on BBMP restructuring, is to ‘tie up’ the governance and administrative mechanism at the larger regional level, the Bengaluru Metropolitan Area (BMA) so that Bengaluru looks, feels and operates as one composite city.
All existing utilities, ward-wise property details and other issues will be considered before coming up with a plan. Lakes, drains, roads, buildings – everything will be considered.
‘Work will end by June end’
Committee member V Ravichandar, an urban expert who had earlier put together the Self Assessment Scheme for property tax, says that the committee is mainly focussing on two activities – putting together GIS data of all existing utilities and infrastructure; and coming up with a future road map that can deal with the changes that can happen in the Bengaluru Metropolitan Area in the future.
As each department has the data relevant to that department in its own chosen format, which is usually different from the platform for another department, collecting them and collating will take a lot of time, Ravichandar explained. The committee will take all such data into consideration and draft a plan which makes it easy to govern the city.
When asked whether all departments are extending cooperation on data-sharing front, Ravichandar said the committee will report to state cabinet, and a letter has been sent to all agencies involved, and there is no issue on data-sharing.
World over, smaller municipalities have meant that property tax collection is better. Cities have to stand on their own, they cannot be subsidised or cannot seek help by the state. Hence smaller units mean efficiency, he felt. The area covered will be Bangalore Metropolitan area, not just 198 wards in the BBMP limits, as the Committee wants the plan to be futuristic to make the future expansions meaningful.
BJP wants elections on time
Meanwhile a New Indian Express report states that BJP leaders including BBMP Mayor Shanthakumari and the Leader of the Ruling Party N R Ramesh are thinking of approaching the court in January if the State Government is not planning to hold elections before April 23, 2015. The term of the current BBMP councillors terminates by this time.
The report also quotes District Incharge Minister Ramalinga Reddy as saying that the committee will submit its report by June and the election would be held a month after that.
V Ravichandar clarified that the work and report of the committee has nothing to do with elections. Elections can be held on time, while committee will continue to work on the mandated tasks.
Interim report of the restructuring committee
Here’s the copy of the report. If you are a Document Cloud user, you will be able to highlight specific parts of the report and comment on them.