Skepticism in the air over Greater Bengaluru Authority idea proposed by panel

The much awaited final report on Restructuring BBMP has been submitted to the government. The recommendations of the Committee which range from a three-tier system of governance to restructuring Bengaluru into five corporations to establishment of Greater Bengaluru Financial Commission and extension of Mayor’s term to five years, have been appreciated as well as criticised.

Citizen Matters tried to pool the opinions of representatives from various political parties, urban experts and citizens on what they had to say about the Restructuring Committee report. One aspect that was talked about by majority of them was the formation of Greater Bengaluru Authority (GBA).

Ashwin Mahesh
Urban expert

The Committee, perhaps, has failed to understand that city governance is not the extension of State government. An opportunity should be given for the city to blossom on its own rather than being under the shadow of the State. While I appreciate some of the recommendations of the Committee like transparency, creating space for ombudsman etc, I am not convinced with the idea of forming Greater Bengaluru Authority chaired by the Chief Minister. The City Corporation cannot evolve if it is controlled by the State government and there is a need to separate city from the State government, by giving autonomy in true sense.

Recommendations for administrative improvements given in the report are correct, whereas suggestions in terms of improving governance are not upto the mark. Three-tier system proposed in the report too is not new, considering the 74th amendment of the Constitution which has made it constitutional to have a three tier system in rural and urban governance.

R K Misra
Urban expert

I am quite happy about the Restructuring Committee report and endorse their views. The best part of the report, is to recommend for splitting BBMP into five corporations. Huge physical distance that exists between the people and the BBMP head office has made things worse to an extent that people are not able to visit the corporation as and when required. This practical problem could be solved if BBMP is divided into multiple corporations.

Formation of GBA too would help in coordinating and maintaining corporations as the GBA has multiple roles to play. It will also allow for centralised planning approach. With Chief Minister given the chairmanship of the GBA, all the corporations will have the responsibility to report to him. Creation of 400 wards with less population in each ward will enable people to keep a tab on their corporator and his promises.

Vijayan Menon
Citizen Action Forum

The Committee has analysed the problems of BBMP in detail, but has not come up with effective solutions to solve problems. In fact, the problems faced by BBMP are known to everyone and there is nothing new in it. Recommendation to form Greater Bengaluru Authority, in the presence of Metropolitan Planning Committee, is certainly unconstitutional. When the government and the restructuring committee speak about delegation of power, why has been the power to head the GBA given to the CM? It will again lead to centralised system of governance.

Prakash Belawadi
Theatre personality

From the point of view of a citizen of Bengaluru, I am of the view that the Restructuring Committee report is good and could be practically implemented. Two most significant aspects in the report which will have a positive impact on the city, if implemented, are the suggestion to form the Financial Commission and Ombudsman. Though these are very good recommendations in practical terms, due care must be given while appointing the Ombudsman and while forming the Finance Commission. Change in C & R Rules by emphasising on domain experts itself will bring a sea change in the functioning of corporation. As far as formation of the GBA and appointing the CM as its chairperson is concerned, I am of the view that it was a practical compromise by the committee and it is not a bad idea at all. There is nothing wrong in the Chief Minister having his say in policy decisions for the city. However, I am bit apprehensive about the power and existence of BDA within the GBA. Functioning of a parallel agency is the area of concern.

 

 

N R Ramesh
Ex-floor leader of BBMP (BJP)

The report has been prepared ignoring the historical and linguistic background of Bengaluru. It has not taken into consideration the popular sentiments. If the report is implemented in its current form, it will create linguistic issues and financial imbalance. For example, East Zone will have only 20 per cent of Kannadigas, where Kannadigas themselves would face the threat of being a minority in their own land. In addition, East Zone will be the richest zone with highest revenue collection owing to IT offices located there, whereas West Zone will continue to remain poor with meagre tax collection. It is not fair to have five corporations with different degree of development. What should have been done is to decentralise the administration and delegate additional power to the zonal commissioners and the commissioner of BBMP. There is a lot of room for confusion in the report. Is is not yet clear on how service providing agencies like the police force, BESCOM, BWSSB will be divided if five corporations are formed.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar
Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha)

The report makes an elaborate diagnosis of what ails our society. Many of its diagnosis and ailments are very similar to what was done by ABIDe Task Force for Better Bengaluru. However, the report makes no recommendation to address the core issue of mal-governance, corruption and vested interests that are crippling our city. The report does not mention about issues like regulating encroachment and commercialisation of public land, handling conflicts of interest among corporators, lack of accountability and transparency in the functioning of BBMP. Whilst making recommendations for splitting BBMP into five and creating another two Government agencies, there is no mention of how much extra all this is going to cost the hapless taxpayer. 

C Ramalinga Reddy
Transport & Bengaluru Urban District-in-Charge Minister

It is a good proposal by the Restructuring Committee, though a few aspects have to be modified during implementation. By delegating power to the GBA, the GBA will act as an alternative government for Bengaluru. Dividing BBMP into five corporations will help in better administration of the city. 

 

Ravikrishna Reddy
AAP leader (as posted on Facebook)

Five years of fixed term for a directly elected mayor, two term guaranteed reservation for a ward, multiple zones, more decentralisation, wide adoption of technology, ward committees with power to do social auditing, select / reject local projects, and transparency are some of the things that can benefit the city’s governance and bring in more accountability.

S Prakash
Ex-floor leader of JD(S) in BBMP council

I think the report causes more harm to the city than solving problems. When the Metropolitan Planning Committee chaired by the CM remained defunct without a single meeting for seven months, how can we expect the CM to efficiently handle the GBA? Also the recommendation to elect the Mayor directly will not serve the purpose. A political party may project a candidate for the post of Mayor, but what if the candidate fails to get elected as the corporator? Will he still be the Mayor? Major issues like water and infrastructure is not addressed in the report.

Sridhar Pabbisetty
CEO, Namma Bengaluru Foundation

The BBMP Restructuring Committee Report is a great analysis of the problems faced by Bengaluru. However, when it comes to addressing the problems, there is nothing new in the report. It is on the lines of ABIDe Task Force report and Kasturirangan Committee Report on BMRDA. That is where the appreciation of Restructuring Committee report stops.

What is required for the betterment of Bengaluru is accountability and responsibility in governance. By dividing the city into five corporations with a mayor for each of them, and creating a Greater Bengaluru Authority, the whole authority is handed over to the chief minister. It is against the spirit of the 74th amendment of the Constitution.

The worst recommendation of all is to make the Chief Minister head the GBA. The GBA as a planning body will submit its reports to the Metropolitan Planning Committee for suggestions which is again chaired by the CM and then the report is once again submitted to the CM, which is ridiculous. The CM of Karnataka seems to be so much interested to get involved in Bengaluru’s affairs.

Hurdle before the city is not the size of it, but the ineffective way of functioning of different units. The need of the hour is one powerful mayor to the city rather than five minion mayors. The committee has totally missed this point. It is more or less like, recommending plastic surgery for a patient who needs a cardiac surgery.

 

 

 

Revathy Ashok
Managing Trustee and CEO, Bangalore Political Action Committee

The restructuring report is a bold experiment by the committee towards addressing the issues of Bengaluru. Decentralisation is the need of the hour to improve the governance. The report has emphasised on the same. B.PAC too had suggested for dividing BBMP into five corporations, though the zonal boundaries that we had proposed were different. B.PAC is happy that the Committee has taken into consideration some of our suggestions on dividing BBMP. The boundary is not so important, but the concept of dividing is more significant.

We hope that a lot of recommendations of the committee including dividing BBMP and elected mayors could be accepted and implemented in its current form. While apprehensions have been raised about some of the smaller details of the report, I believe that we should look at the broader principles on which the committee report is based.

Creation of five corporations will lead to an internal competition between various corporations. It will force all the corporations to work towards providing better infrastructure. Identity of Bengaluru will not be at stake. Bengaluru will remain as Bengaluru as all the small units will come under Greater Bengaluru Authority.

As far as the creation of GBA and handing over the power to chief minister is concerned, we should accept such small compromises in order to address the real issues.

Kathyayini Chamaraj
Executive Trustee, CIVIC

Recommendation for ward committees in the Restructuring Report appears innovative. It is on the lines of electing a mini council, with 10 elected members and 10 nominated members. However, my concern is that active citizens may not get enough representation in the ward committees. A person to get nominated to the ward committee may need enough backing from political parties or other influential groups.

The report does not even talk about formation of area sabhas which is mandatory in accordance with the law. Area sabha being the lowest tier of governance would help in connecting individuals to the governance.

I also take exception to recommending chief minister as the head the GBA. When there is directly elected mayor to govern each corporation, what is the need for CM to look into the city affairs? It also raises questions on who has more power in the city affairs. Is it the mayor or the CM?

While suggesting the formation of GBA to retain the brand image of Bengaluru, the Committee should have recomended for dividing Bengaluru into five zonal councils than five corporations. By forming different corporations, each corporation will have its own rules and regulations and differences in administration pattern, which may lead to the creation of five independent cities.

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Akshatha M
About Akshatha M 220 Articles

Akshatha M was a Staff Journalist at Citizen Matters. She tweets at @akshata1.