Dear Chief Minister, take the first step in doing what is right for Bengaluru

Dear Chief Minister,

I am writing to you about the public consultation held yesterday to discuss the Master Plan being prepared by the BDA. Frankly, the whole event was a disaster. The BDA was entirely unprepared, and apart from stone-walling the public on their legitimate questions, the authority had very little to offer. Even the conduct of the meeting was poor, with allegations from some in the audience that the event and its proceedings were a sham.

But this was predictable, since the BDA is now functioning in a grey area of governance. Its planning authority has been vacated by the notification of the Metropolitan Planning Committee, and its competence holds little credit with the public – no flyover or underpass was built in less than 3 years, and not a single housing development has come up in the last 10 years. I am sure you will have seen today’s press coverage of the event, in which the members of the public expressed in clear terms their dissatisfaction with the authority. In such a scenario,

I urge you to step in and correct things that are clearly sliding from bad to worse. There are mainly two things needed, to set a new course.

(a) Announce that elections to the Bangalore municipal region(s) will happen within six months, and that within a week after the first council meetings, the new elected members of the MPC will be in place. In parallel, please decide who the nominated members of the MPC should be as well; this can be done right away.

(d) Announce that the Master Plan, going forward, will be developed under the aegis of the MPC, and that a clear mandate from this body will be given to its secretariat in the BDA to develop the Master Plan afresh. Such a process should also include widespread public input at the ward levels, and a clear road-map for tackling the challenges of the city in the next 20 years.

These things require a new politics in the city, and that has been a difficult decision for successive Chief Ministers. But it is doable. More than two decades ago, one of your predecessors took the bold step of making Karnataka the first state to implement panchayati raj, and devolve power and accountability in rural areas. We now have the opportunity to do the same in urban areas too, beginning with the capital.

One day we will have to do what is right for Bengaluru. We have to give ourselves the chance to succeed. As reported widely in the media, it is evident from the BDA event yesterday that many citizens are ready to step up, take responsibility, and help make this the best city in the country. They are only waiting for the government too to join them in their hopes and efforts.

With warm regards,

Ashwin Mahesh

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