Raise your voice for functional ward committees in Chennai

Do you want greater participation in civic issues and creation of common resources? Would you like greater accountability for the spending of tax-payer money by the local government? A petition that demands greater say for citizens aims to push for these rights in urban local governance!

A collective of citizen’s groups, working for various causes in the city, has been trying to ensure greater citizen participation in local government. The provision for citizens’ participation in urban governance is enshrined in the 74th amendment of the Constitution. The group is of the view that the necessary notifications must be brought into effect at the state-level to extend these rights to citizen in urban centres across Tamil Nadu.

In Tamil Nadu, the avenue for citizens’ participation is created by the Tamil Nadu Municipal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2010. This law allows citizens to raise their voice through forums such as the Ward Committee and Area Sabhas. However, though the Act was published in the government gazette over eight years ago, the rules for the same are yet to be notified, rendering the citizens powerless.

There are examples to be witnessed and lessons to be drawn from neighbouring states such as Kerala and Karnataka. While Kerala institutionalised citizens participation in governance without delay after the passing of the 74th Amendment, relentless citizen efforts has brought about change in Bengaluru.

With local body elections likely to be held in the coming months, the time is ripe for citizens to demand a greater say in urban governance through the setting up of required platforms to make their voices heard. The collective of citizen’s groups will thus be working to raise awareness and demand change through petitions to the authorities concerned.

If you would like to endorse the petition calling for notification of the rules to empower citizens, please follow the link: bit.ly/2XkNZXx

To access a text of the petition, click: bit.ly/329QfEy (English), bit.ly/2XQj1uI (Tamil)

The involvement of the local communities in allocation of resources and creation of infrastructure is paramount to adequately addressing their needs and conserving local environment. For this, the citizens must be considered active stakeholders.

The setting up of ward committee and areas sabhas will provide a much-needed feedback mechanisms that will serve as an effective tool in making policies that work for all.

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