With the expected implementation of new Ward Committee Bye-laws/Rules drafted by the BBMP, the citizens can now question the ward committees on litter or garbage in their ward. The best part is, they can even move court if the complaints to the ward committee or the corporator do not solve the problem.
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The draft of the Byelaws/Rules for Ward Committees has been sent to the state government for approval. The final push for the formation of ward committees had come as a result of the unmanageable garbage problem in the city, hence the rules specific to garbage issue were framed in the draft.
Section 4(i) of the draft Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Ward Committee) Bye-laws/Rules 2013 says that citizens can approach ward committees in case of littering or uncleared garbage.
"Now complaints related to garbage will remain within the ward. The objective of this rule is to resolve the garbage issue locally, at ward level," says N Madhaiah, Legal Advisor at BBMP. Madhaiah has been responsible for framing the Rules on ward committees. As per Section 4(i), citizens can further approach the court if garbage is not cleared inspite of complaints to the corporator and the ward committee. However, the rule makes no mention of the time that ward committees or corporators will be given, before citizens can go to court.
Duties of the Ward Committee
The draft defines the duties of the ward committee as follows:
- Preparing and submitting Ward Development Scheme to the corporation
- Ensuring proper utilisation of funds allotted to the ward
- Approving the list of beneficiaries submitted by the Area Sabhas, for beneficiary-oriented schemes of the BBMP
- Supervising the implementation of BBMP schemes and programmes in the ward
- Ensuring water supply and sewerage system maintenance in the ward
- Ensuring maintenance of streetlights, parks, open spaces and green area in the ward
- Ensuring afforestation and implementation of RWH schemes
- Mobilising voluntary donations for the ward development
- Informing the authority in case of encroachments
The new Rules were formed after some discussions between corporators and the Legal Cell at BBMP, about whether Rules or Bye-laws need to be framed to empower the ward committee.
Ward committees are constituted as per section 13H of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act, 2011. As per the draft, the functions of ward committees are the same as those in the KMC Act, 2011. However, the draft Rules define additional aspects like ‘procedure for transaction of business’, ‘preparation of agenda’ for meetings, and the ‘functions of the Secretary’ of the committee.
The document is labelled the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Ward Committee) Bye-laws/Rules 2013, as if both ‘Bye-laws’ and ‘Rules’ are the same. Madhaiah clarifies that these are in fact Rules, and not Bye-laws. In recent Council meetings, corporators had discussed whether the BBMP should frame Rules or Bye-laws.
"Corporators have decided that we form ‘Rules’ rather than ‘Bye-laws,’ since Rules (under the state KMC Act) are legally more binding and powerful than Bye-laws. Also in forming municipal Bye-laws we cover only Bengaluru, while Rules are applicable to all corporations across the state" says Madhaiah. He says that the government will call objections from other corporations before making the Rules applicable for them.
Since these are Rules and not Bye-laws, the draft will be submitted directly to the state government for approval. As the code of conduct is already in place due to the election, the BBMP has to take permission from the Election Commission to submit the draft for government approval. Already the draft has been sent to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Karnataka, on March 26th. The government is expected to give approval within 15 days.
What do the new Rules say
The Rules on ‘procedure for transaction of business’ defines the required strength for each meeting. It says that the term of the committee members would be co-terminus with that of the corporator, that meetings should have a mandatory seven-day notice and should be held in ward office premises. The rest of this section is the same as section 13H of the earlier KMC Act, 2011.
Rules on ‘preparation of agenda’ for meetings include the protocols that the Secretary of the ward committee needs to follow in preparing the meeting agenda. Meetings should be held at least once a month. The BBMP Commissioner should keep the Secretary informed on the decisions of the Standing Committees, decisions/ resolutions of the Council, ward-wise budgetary allocation made by the corporation or any of the Standing Committees, copy of the ward maps and details of corporation properties ward-wise.⊕