Over 750 Resident Welfare Associations representing more than ten lakh Bangalore citizens under the platform of Namma Bengaluru Foundation and Bengaluru Residents Association Confederation Ensemble (BRACE) launched a protest against government’s failure to address citizens’ concerns about massive corruption in Bangalore and the nexus of corrupt builders and some politicians that is destroying Bengaluru.
The campaign that’s a result of the lackadaisical approach by the government despite the repeated pleas over a year now by the forum of BRACE will see a city wide signature campaign demanding the government for a Corruption free city that does not cater to mafias and vested interests.
In a public meeting attended by thousands of residents, the citizens demanded public hearing for all major projects and legislations in the city and sanction to prosecute those guilty. “Public hearing is a mandatory process where suggestions/ objections are sought from the public for projects in the city. We must be given 30 days time to file our objections to a draft of any project. This must then be placed before an expert committee which will then recommend a reworked draft incorporating the public’s voice. If any of the objections / suggestions is disregarded, reasons and statements of the same must be documented and made available in public domain. This in one stroke eliminates the mischief mongering by the corrupt officials and politicians” explained N S Mukunda, Member – BRACE.
BRACE-NBF said no punitive action has been taken by the government to prosecute those named by the Karnataka Lokayukta and to even identify and punish those officials, who were responsible for implementing the Akrama-Sakrama Bill. “Despite residents associations petitioning the authorities continually to rescue Bengaluru from the clutches of real estate/ contractors lobbies the government has deliberately discouraged the need to have more public discussion on good governance, transparency and accountability. The least they can do to save their face is now prosecute those named in the Lokayukta Report” said Ravindranath Guru, Coordinator- Member, BRACE and Coordinator, Coalition against Corruption.
The citizens’ group has at various times put forth certain demands to be met through various meetings, press conferences and direct letters, but these demands have been met with silence from the government that refused to take any action against massive corruption and capture of city planning and local government by the vested interests.
Eminent Citizens in the city such as freedom fighter Doreswamy, poet G S Siddalingaiah, Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrashekar and Magsaysay awardee Ruth Manorama came out in support of the cause and the struggles undertaken by the citizens. Speaking at the event Doraiswamy requested the citizens to join hands and fight till finish to see that corruption and vested interests are a thing of past in days to come.
“You must be aware that you can be taken for a ride. When you are aware of this will youwill have the courage to fight. Taking the fight on to save the city is everybody’s need and not a personal agenda” said eminent poet G S Siddalingaiah.
Re-enforcing the fact that cities exist for citizens and the city government must make it their aspiration to work for citizens, Member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar said “The citizens need must drive government plans. There cannot be any more outsourcing of issues and problems in the city. The citizens must step up and own the city and fight for their rights. We just need one idea for the city- to root out corruption and vested interests”.
How Residents protected their neighbourhoods…
Driving home the point that any good in the city came only through citizens’ struggle /fight and taking direct charge of the issues facing their neigbourhoods, many Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) shared their success of various successes. For example, the auction of Byrasandra Lake was stopped by a local citizen Venkatsubba; a PIL to ensure the master plan for the city is actually as per citizens need by Radhakrishna, member, Koramangala III Block Resident Welfare Association, the fight that led to the closure of an absolutely irrelevant PPP on the Sirsi Circle Flyover by Nitin Seshadri, Member – Koramangala III Block Resident Welfare Association and the fight that the local neighbourhood at Yarab Nagar needs water and not fancy arches by Ravindranath Guru, Coordinator, Coalition Against Corruption – all these sent out one strong message – THE NEED FOR PUBLIC HEARING FOR ALL PROJECTS and LEGISLATIONS IN THE CITY and TO PUNISH THOSE GUILTY.
BRACE will run the signature campaign across the city until March 30, 2014. Post this, the 750+ RWA forum will hit the streets to submit the petition to the CM and MLAs.
The residents associations have appealed that enabling citizens to engage with government will bring transparency, accountability and fairness in the process. PILs have already been filed to break the builder-state nexus, to withdraw encroachments of public spaces. The residents warned they would take to streets if the continuedexploitation, corruption and bad governance of city is not stopped.
“Whatever we say here today is not against any party or person. We are not here to do politics; but yes we are angry and tired of the corrupt system that ignores common man’s concerns and caters to a few vested interests that are holding the city to ransom. We are now demanding, on behalf of all Bengalureans, that the exploitation of our city and the rampant corruption must be immediately stopped! If the government does not, we will stop this exploitation, corruption and bad governance once and for all,” said Mahalakshmi Parthasarathy – Director, Namma Bengaluru Foundation and President of BRACE.
You can support the cause by signing the petition on www.namma-bengaluru.org.
If you wish to partner and lend your support to BRACE contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 080-41102457.
The above content has been provided as a press note by divya Unnikrishnan of Namma Bengaluru Foundation, and has been re-published here.