BENGALURU: Soon, all the cities of Karnataka and urban local bodies will have ward committees. They will not just be limited to cities which have a population above 3 lakh, but even the ones which have less than that.
This decision was taken at the recently-held Urban Development Department (UDD) meeting. According to High Court orders and the Karnataka Municipal Corporation rules, it is mandatory for cities and wards to have one, especially where the population is above 3 lakh. But the UDD has decided to extended it to all the cities. This will make it to a total of 279 urban local bodies in the state.
Sources in the UDD told The New Indian Express that a decision on having it in 10 cities of Karnataka was taken by the cabinet last December. “While this proposal is going to be placed in both the houses of the upcoming assembly session, we are working on even placing that all the 279 urban local bodies (ULBs) of the state should form ward committees. Though it is not mandatory, but it is a step to decentralise the working, bring in more transparency, involve locals, and ensure there is accountability. We are sure there will be teething problems, but this is required to ensure that services and government works reach the ground level. Their problems will be heard and resolved at the seat of power. If approved and implemented on ground, Karnataka will be the first state in the country to have this format,” said the sources.
The ten cities for which the Cabinet nod has been obtained are Mysuru, Mangaluru, Tumakuru, Ballari, Davangere, Shivamogga, Hubballi, Kalaburgi, Belagavi and Vijayapura. These cities were listed because ULB elections have already taken place.
To ensure its smooth implementation, soon after it is passed in the assembly, the UDD is holding a series of meetings to address how the Act needs to be taken to the grassroot level and explained to people, formation of the ward committees, implementation of the Act and their sustainability.
Narendra Kumar, President of Nagarika Shakti said the 2011 amendment of the Karnataka Municipal Act made it mandatory for all ULBs to have ward committees, but it hadn’t been done so far. Now, because of the pressure from people and on the directions of the High Court, it is being implemented. However, the decision will be taken when the assembly sessions are held.