BENGALURU: We can do our job efficiently if there is no political interference — this seems to be the message of BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad to netas on Saturday.In what could be his strongest defence of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) during his tenure as commissioner, Manjunath Prasad said the recent high court-monitored cleanup of the city had shown that his officers would be able to work more effectively in managing Bengaluru if political leaders did not interfere in daily work or bring pressure on the BBMP.
The last person to speak at a panel discussion on ‘Urban governance and administration’ organized by the Bengaluru Political Action Committee (B.PAC), Prasad spoke about how the BBMP was able to work much more efficiently with the court’s intervention as well as during times of election as there was virtually no political interference. During the course of the discussion, the BBMP had to face severe criticism from several speakers, including on finances, which could have prompted his plain-speaking.
“During election time, officials work better, take swift action against candidates or political party members who violate the model code of conduct. That is because there will be no political pressure or no legislators interfering. Otherwise, when our officials go to clear flex signboards or carry out any other work, there is constant political interference. Some of our engineers, posted in a particular ward or constituency, cannot take action to remove flexes of the netas of the area,” Prasad said.
Taking the example of the HC’s intervention and deadlines given to the BBMP, Prasad said that it served as a wake-up call for officials. “They will have to do the work as they are aware that they will be in trouble if they do not adhere to the court order. In these cases, political leaders also do not interfere as the court is involved,” he said.
During the discussion, Prasad also responded to other panelists who suggested that the BBMP was not looking after its finances properly. Focusing on the jurisdiction of the BBMP, Prasad said, “BBMP limits include 800 sqkm, 93,000 roads stretching out to 14,000km, 842km of storm water drains, 167 lakes, over 1,500 parks and other assets that need maintainence.”
Stating that resource mobilisation was `7,500 crore, he said that `4,500 crore was collected by way of taxes with remaining money being given by the state government. “Around `900 crore goes towards payment of employees. There are so many issues to be tackled and we do not have sufficient funds. When that is the case, how can we work effectively?” he questioned.
Prasad also expressed his helplessness when it came to the staff strength of the agency. “The actual sanctioned staff strength (excluding pourakarmikas) is 18,000 employees and we have only 9,000.
According to rules, all zonal commissioners should be either Indian Adminstrative Service (IAS) or Karnataka Administrative Service (KAS) officers. None of our zonal commissioners are from this
cadre,” he said.
Senior MLA and BJP leader S Suresh Kumar, speaking at the event, said that he supported the linking of Aadhaar cards with voter ID cards in order to prevent duplication of voters. “There is a common complaint that the urban voting percentages are always low. One of the reasons for this is because some residents in Bengaluru will have a voter card with a Bengaluru address and also have another card with their hometown address. During elections, they prefer to vote at their village or town and do not vote here,”
BBMP marshals to be recruited from Jan
From January, the BBMP will have boots on the ground when it comes to monitoring littering across Bengaluru. With the state government giving ts approval to recruit 233 marshals to catch people who litter, the BBMP will be ecruiting retired army personnel for the job.