Another reminder to BSY government

The 100-day-old BJP-government has still not answered key questions for Bangaloreans: notably, the Sakrama and property tax issues. A citizens' meet was the reminder.

The Citizens’ Action Forum (CAF), a civic action group representing a number of residents’ welfare associations in Bangalore, organised a one-day symposium as part of their on-going public dialogues with politicians on 30th August 2008 at Central College. They discussed ways to solve civic problems and debated on two of Bangalore’s unsresolved issues: Sakrama and collection of property tax. The programme was structured as panel discussions.

Mathew Thomas, general Secretary of CAF made an extensive presentation on ‘Kasturirangan Committee’ (aka Committee on Governance in the Bangalore Metropolitan Region and BBMP, headed by Dr Kasturirangan, ex-chairman of ISRO) for a review of its recommendations. CAF has interpreted that some of the committee’s recommendations were against the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA), saying it had no suggestions for financial discipline. It does not recommend any measures for fiscal discipline and to improve municipal finances, Thomas added.

According to CAF, instituting the MetroPolitan Committee (MPC), as recommended by the Committee, was a super-ordinate, centralised planning institution that would function against the spirit of the 74th CAA, taking away the powers of the urban local bodies. “Ideally, the MPC collates details of plans by different agencies and acts as an overseeing body. But here, the MPC is vested with great powers that centralise governance”, he said.

The committee’s suggestion that BDA be converted into a company was criticised by the CAF. It said that there were already such companies operating and there was no need for another one. The committee also recommended more Private Public Participation (PPP). Thomas cited examples where PPP was being reversed in various countries like United Kingdom and South Africa. He then suggested that there should be provision for people participation through public hearings and ward committees. “Plenty of money is available with the BBMP. Why borrow or market-beg?” questioned Thomas, urging organisations to ensure financial discipline.

Ex-Mayor PR Ramesh spoke next. Commending the actions taken by CAF, he said that 18 months after BBMP was formed, the corporators were still groping in the dark. None had an idea of the bigger picture, he lamented. Ramesh stressed on the need to strengthen the BBMP structure and advised citizens to elect eligible candidates in the upcoming elections. He urged public bodies like the CAF to guide the BBMP.

Professor Ramesh from IIM-B said that ‘Governance was the Gangothri’ (birthplace) of all legislations. He stressed on the need of applying the style of corporate governance into city governance. “Instead of creating more institutions, strengthen the existing ones and empower them”, he suggested. “Today transparency will benefit both parties”.

The CAF next plans to partner with trade and industry bodies like FKCCI and BCIC to mobilise opposition to the Kasturirangan Committee recommendations.

Master Plan 2015

The panel next took up the subject of Bangalore Master Plan 2015. Vijay Menon of Koramangala Initiative made a presentation, detailing the plan’s history and traced it to the current situation. He said that the first draft of the plan was ready in 2005. It was only in 2007 that the plan was placed for public comment and within days, nearly 30,000 objections were filed against it, he stated. He explained that the master plan was reducing the green belt around Bangalore from 66 percent to 32 percent. The Master Plan had no green, he said, finally asking the big question, “Is the plan people-centric?” (See story on a PIL against the CDP here.)

The CAF, in its earlier discussions has sought implementation of the PSS Thomas Committee report and measures to check encroachment on green zones. (The committee was set up to examine objections received for the upcoming master plan.)

Akrama-Sakrama

Citizens’ Action Forum
#31/1, 1st Floor
M K Puttalingaiah Road
Padmanabhanagara
Bangalore 560070
Tel: 26791436
www.citizensactionforum.org
admin.at.citizensactionforum.org

The afternoon session saw discussions on Sakrama, the scrapping of the Capital Value System (CVS) and continuing the Self-Assessment System (SAS). The panel felt that citizens were being victimised for violations by developers and builders. As expected, discussion on Sakrama opened more questions than answers. The general view of the citizens was that Sakrama (right action) was more of Akrama (wrong action).

Legislators B N Vijayakumar and Dinesh Gundu Rao were present at the symposium. Over 200 people, inclusive of representatives from various citizen groups and Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) across the city were in attendance.

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Comments:

  1. Nagaraj Shankar says:

    Akrama Sakrama: While the need to sort this issue assumes highest importance, were positive suggestions and action plan proposed? Only criticism would not suffice. Further, why there is such a delay in finalizing a tax collection system? and if it depends on the elected body, why should there be a delay in conducting the elections?

  2. B S GANESH says:

    Corporation taxes for the year 2008 -2009 is not so far collected. Revenue inspectors ( Tax collectors ) are refusing to collect taxes saying no instructions are received from bosses. BSY must pay attention for atleast collection based on previous system. There is need for economy in expenses and prevention of corruption.
    B S GANESH, ganshar@dataone.in
    70/9 Hanumanthnagar, BANGALORE 560 019

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