Citizens in Bengaluru are finally looking forward to participate in hyper-local level of governance in Bengaluru, with a systematic approach to ward committee meetings. A directive issued by the BBMP Commissioner on November 16, 2018 mandated the meetings to be held on first Saturday of every month.
If you are gearing up to go to the ward committee meeting, here’s a compilation of everything you might want to know.
What exactly is a ward committee?
Ward committees are the citizen committees at the hyperlocal level meant to decide the functioning of a ward. They have been mandated by Nagarapalika Act, or 74th constitutional amendment, to ensure citizens’ participation in decision-making.
A ward committee must include three women, two SC/ST members, two resident welfare associations and three any other members chosen by the Corporator—all of them should be the voters in the ward. It should be chaired by the Corporator, while an official nominated by the Corporator must be the secretary of the ward committee. This must be placed in the BBMP Council meeting and must be approved.
This is meant to be an institutionalised channel of communication and interaction between communities and municipalities.
How is a ward committee meeting different from Janaspandanas hosted by newspapers, or the Chief Minister’s grievance redressal programmes?
Ward committee meeting is officially mandated by the Constitution. It has a sanctity which can be questioned in courts if violated. A model ward committee meeting can analyse the work done, prioritise the budget, suggest works that need future budget allocations and act as a bridge between the communities, officials and people’s representatives. The minutes of these meetings are meant to be documented and shared with the public, to be followed up and can be tracked. Accountability makes ward committees an extremely important tool in democracy.
The contact programmes organised by the media are not constitutionally mandated. No one can question if they are not held, and people’s representatives are not constitutionally obliged to deliver the promises made here. The Janaspandana programmes organised by the Chief Minister are basically grievance redressals in nature. Both of these do not address the need for planning in urban local bodies and ward level, as there is no formal process.
Who are my ward committee members?
What are the duties of the secretary?
According to the notification gazetted on June 22, 2018, Duties of Secretary of ward committee are as follows:
- Fixing the meeting date and agenda in consultation with Chairman (this has been fixed now as the 1st Saturday of the month, beginning in December)
- Issuing meeting notice to members and officials to be issued seven days before meeting by Secretary.
- Forwarding all resolutions of ward committees to concerned authorities for action
- Responsible for protection of Corporation properties
- Providing all necessary information to the committee on schemes for the ward
- Having the custody of all documents.
- Endeavour to furnish all information in public domain
- Rule 4(g): Ensuring follow-up action and providing Action Taken Reports on all resolutions of the ward committee
- The secretary shall participate in all the meetings but cannot vote on the issues.
What information is the ward committee entitled to get from the Commissioner?
- Standing committee decisions
- Resolutions of the Council
- Budgets sanctioned to the Ward
- Ward maps
- Details of corporation properties
- Details of revenue streams
What’s the procedure to make sure ward committees function as intended?
- Chairman shall endeavour to fix a particular day and date for meeting
- In case of emergency the meeting can be called in 48 hours
- Meeting notice to be displayed in prominent public offices: ward office, water and electricity supply office, public health centres, etc.
- Steps to be taken to provide link to each ward and meeting notice and agenda on corporation website
- Ward committee members to give suggestions on agenda one week prior to meeting
- Meeting to be held in ward office or a place near to ward office which enables citizens to be present
- Citizen to approach the chairman or a ward committee member for any issue related to ward development
- If no action is taken, citizen can complain to the Commissioner
- Quorum for ward committee meeting is 1/3 of total members
- Meetings to be open to the public
- Videography of the meeting may be done by public and posted online
What are the rules that make ward councillor and secretary accountable?
- Rule 3 – Ward committee shall recommend to the corporation for disciplinary action on those officers who fail to carry out resolutions of the Ward Committee
- Rule 5 – If chairman fails to call a meeting in a month, one-third of the ward committee members can request the chairman in writing to convene a meeting.
- Rule 8 – Establishment of a Disaster Management Cell at ward level
- Creation of a link on the BBMP website where the minutes of the meeting will be uploaded by the secretaries for every ward.
What can ward committees and residents do?
- Pressurise BBMP to constitute area sabhas immediately
- Ensure ward committee meetings take place regularly.
- Plan for your area, obtain Programme of Works and all other information related to wards
- Monitoring implementation of all works and
- Conducting social audits of garbage management and other works
Will officials attend committee meetings?
Yes. One BBMP official from the ward will be the secretary of the ward committee, and will be present. Other officials will be there based on requests from the corporator or the ward committee secretary.
Who else will attend the meeting?
Corporator who is the chairman of the ward committee, other ward committee members and the secretary of the committee should participate in the meeting. Citizens of the ward can visit the ward office and witness the proceedings.
What exactly happens in ward committee meeting?
- Issues related to the ward that can be sorted with existing fund allocation can be discussed.
- Issues that require fresh budgeting and funds and can be allocated in current financial year can be discussed, through Programme of Works.
- Issues that need to be included in next budget can be discussed.
- Issues related to other departments such as water, sanitation, power etc. can be discussed.
Where and when will ward committee meeting happen?
According to the notification issued by the BBMP Commissioner on November 16 2018, ward committees must be held every Saturday of the month at BBMP ward office at 11.30 am.
If you know where your ward office is, please help Opencity map it by marking the location and uploading a photo.
How do I participate as a citizen?
You can attend the meeting, and talk to the ward committee members and the corporator before the meeting to bring issues to their notice.
What are the responsibilities of ward committee members?
- Manage and ensure proper use of funds in the ward
- Supervise programmes and schemes in the ward
- Ensure solid-waste management
- Ensure schemes like afforestation, implementation of rainwater harvesting schemes of BBMP reaches every corner of the ward.
More information can be seen here also.
How can the ward committee help with issues not related to municipality?
The BBMP can take note of the issues and communicate them officially to the other departments concerned (BWSSB, BMRCL, BESCOM, BMTC, Police and others), to help solve the issue, though the presence of officials from other departments is not mandatory during the meetings.
How will ward committee help with garbage issues?
While ruling on a public interest litigation on garbage, the High Court of Karnataka asked the government to mandatorily constitute ward committees to oversee the work happening on garbage management. If something is not working as it is supposed to be, go talk to the corporator or the ward committee members, and they are supposed to work out a plan of action to bring the things on track.
Does ward committee really have a say in how budget is spent in my ward?
It does. Programme of Works (PoW) is a document that prioritises the works to be undertaken in the ward, and should be drafted in consultation with the ward committee.
What can be done if the ward meeting is not held at 11.30 am on first Saturday in my ward office?
Some of the wards might choose to conduct ward committee meeting on a later date, and some wards may not conduct it as all if the public doesn’t exert pressure. Nothing can be done immediately, as the directive has just come in place. The list can be compiled on which wards conducted the meetings, which wards have promised to do it on a later date and where they were not held, for as many wards as possible by the citizens, and handed over to BBMP. BBMP will also upload the minutes and pressure is supposed to be built on the system.
Citizens for Bengaluru has floated a form where you can update details on the ward committee meeting.
We from Citizen Matters would like to know how the meeting went on. Please fill this form if you have tried to attend/ attended the meeting or followed it up.
Note: This FAQ has been compiled with inputs from Kathyayini Chamaraj, Binu Wilson, Srinivas Alvilli, Shree D N and the final notification of ward committee issued in 2016.