We invite citizens to join us in protesting against destruction of the spirit of democracy and citizen participation as envisaged by the Nagarapalika Act or 74th Constitutional Amendment (CA).
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BBMP was ordered by the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka (HC) during a hearing of a PIL petition on 24th April 2017 to form Ward Committees (WC) in all 198 wards within one month. When the practice of councillors nominating the ward committee members was challenged in the Court at a subsequent hearing, the HC gave oral orders to BBMP that out of the ten members to be nominated to the ward committee, “two or three names could be selected from the councillors’ recommendations and that applications of citizens should also be considered” to minimise political interference and ensure accountability in the functioning of WCs.
To ensure that BBMP nodal officers do not get influenced by powerful Corporators while forming the WCs, the BBMP Commissioner asked citizens to submit their applications directly at his office. Based on this assurance, around 500 citizens submitted their applications at BBMP Commissioner’s office.
However, when the list of 131 ward committees was submitted by BBMP to the HC, we were shocked to find that none of the 500 names were included. The Commissioner failed to include even one name, despite promising repeatedly to consider the names of the 500 applicants. The whole exercise turned out to be a sham, with the credibility of the BBMP Commissioner’s office in tatters.
We are aghast that none of us, non-political activists and civil society leaders, were considered qualified enough to become WC members and only spouses, family and friends of corporators, party workers and contractors of BBMP, who are unlikely to demand transparency and accountability from the councillors, made it to the WC lists.
We have hence decided to stage a protest in front of BBMP office on Friday, 7th July 2017, from 10.30 AM to 12.30PM seeking three main demands:
1. Revise the 131 finalized lists to include names of eligible citizen-applicants and also add them into the 67 committees yet to be formed. Simultaneously, remove the names of spouses, family, friends and party workers to ensure accountability in WCs.
2. Publish in public domain the selection/rejection criteria adopted for each WC member/applicant by BBMP in forming the 198 WCs.
3. Define a citizen-friendly and democratic selection process for WC membership enabling genuine citizen participation in the true spirit of the 74th CA and use that to form all 198 WCs.
As this is a struggle that may enable each one of you to participate in the planning, monitoring and social auditing of BBMP’s works in your ward by becoming members of the WCs and change the way Bengaluru is governed, we request you to join us in large numbers and help us reform the most important governing agency of our city.