Ward committees should have a say in Bengaluru budget: Citizen groups
As many as 68 of the 198 wards in Bengaluru held committee meetings this month. However, citizens’ groups hope that more and more wards will hold monthly meetings, albeit gradually.
As many as 68 of the 198 wards in Bengaluru held committee meetings this month. However, citizens’ groups hope that more and more wards will hold monthly meetings, albeit gradually. “The priorities in each ward are different. We would want to see 10 members of each ward committee making a representation on behalf of people, which the councillors could place before the BBMP council for approval,” said Srinivas Alavilli, cofounder of Citizens for Bengaluru (CfB).
However, the CfB, which had played a significant role in urging the BBMP commissioner to issue an order making it mandatory to hold ward committee meetings on the first Saturday of every month, is aware that it is a daunting task to make each ward committee discuss budgetary preferences. “We want as many ward committees as possible to hold discussion on ward-related work in the runup to the budget. We are even deploying volunteers to play an active role in the functioning of ward committees,” Alavilli said.
Those speaking for ward committees are enthused by the idea of getting involved in the budget preparation process. They were enthused by BBMP commissioner N Manjunath Prasad’s recent statement: “Once the budget preparation work for 2020 begins, ward committees should recommend work priorities for each ward.”
The BBMP allocates Rs 8 crore to Rs 14 crore on an average for each ward, including funds for road, solid waste management and maintenance. “Ward committee members should represent the community needs. The role of the committee is to gather inputs from people, collate this and discuss it with the councillors. Once the works are prioritised based on the need, the same should be placed before the council for approval. This enables a participative system of budgeting,” said Sapna Karim, coordinator (citizen participation), Janaagraha. For two years, Janaagraha has been collating information from public under its My City My Budget programme, on the budgetary needs in each ward and submitting it to the BBMP.
Many corporators agree ward committees should play a role in budget discussions, but they see practical challenges. “Priorities of 10 members of the ward committee will be different. It will be a real challenge to arrive at a consensus,” said Mahadeva M, former chairperson of the BBMP’s standing committee for taxation and finance.