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The Holy Grail of Citizen Participation

Muralidhar Rao forwards a report by Major Kapur of the Koramnagala Initiative, on the developments in Koramangala 1st main 1st block. One road, six agencies, one citizens group and an engineer - makes for a great insight into the holy grail of citizen participation and demolishes a whole lot of notions about the government agencies. read on.

This mail is being sent as an update on the work on 1st Main, 1st Block and a request.

Those of you who live in 1st block and those of you who transit through this part of Koramangala would have noticed a lot of activity and a lot of mess. Strange that it may sound, despite the fact that work has been taken up after several years of pressurizing and appealing to the authorities, there are some who still ask me in a rather cynical way, if the road is being further broken or repaired. There have been arguments between motorists and some unpleasantnesses between the residents and officials, quarrels and blame games even between the service providers themselves. Given the fact that people have suffered for so long and so much, it is understandable, though not desirable.  Frank Coehlo has been extremely busy and helpful in assuaging frayed tempers. A big thanks to him.

Every one is working to meet a deadline, and the challenges are several - what with water pipes bursting, sewerage lines being damaged,  electric cables getting cut, telephone cables being snapped and what not.  This is a time to  look ahead and not blame, it is a time to cooperate not  protest temporary inconveniences. If the utilities placed underground were at the specified depth, none of these would have happened. Houses have got utility connections that are embedded not deeper than 10" to 12" whereas these should be at 42" depth at least. However, we have managed to get all the service providers together on one table and they have all agreed that this not the time to quarrel and delay but to adjust wherever necessary, attend to the disruption immediately and move on.

We need to control the movement of vehicles and have requested the traffic police to intervene. Mr.Chandrashekhar, Circle Inspector will be coming tomorrow for the purpose. All this is temporary, please note. Every one is requested to kindly have just a little bit more patience and cooperate to ensure minimum disruption and inconvenience to all.

BWSSB had plans to lay fresh water lines separating Western side of the road from rest of 1st Block and connect it directly to the pumping station... It was a plan that had been hanging fire for several months because of procedural and bureaucratic  hurdles. We got them to  proceed with the execution of the project without waiting for the normal procedures and  this work is also proceeding simultaneously. They have started to lay MS pipe lines (higher end product) from Jakkasandra turning to Kamal Bakery in the first phase, because in this area the road has been dug up on both sides, we need to fill up the road on one side at least to make it more accessible. In the second phase lines will be laid from Sarjapura Road to Jakkasandra turning. The contractor has been requested to put additional work force to ensure that he does not hold up the other civil works and road works preparatory to asphalting being done by BBMP. He has obliged and responded. Every one is now working in  tandem, atlest for the time being. This work might take about 7 days, which will not exceed the target date, I hope.

Both sides of the roads had to be dug up for re-impaction as the earth was not firm. These are the areas where conduits have to run. Reinforcement work has started. Some disruption is expected at Kamal Bakery Junction for which we have to be prepared. Frankly, we have seen so much of disruption at this point that we are no strangers to this mess. A few more days - God willing, and our travails be behind us. We have already brought to the notice of BBMP the need to upgrade the Kamal Bakery - ST Bed road crossing. I will inform progress on this issue later.

KLAC has completed the construction of culverts and are now concentrating on completing drains from Sarjapura Road to Jakkasandra turning. They are simultaneously also repairing the damaged footpaths on the eastern side of the road.

BESCOM officials have agreed to be ready with a task force to attend to any damage to power lines at shortest notice. The only agency that seems to be ill equipped is BSNL. They are trying hard, but the lines have been chopped and mutilated to a huge extent. They are on the job alright, but they come with a baggage.

BBMP is keen to get the project completed before the rains come. However it seems that even the monsoons are threatening to  advance its arrival. The Chief Engineer has made a personal commitment that he will not allow any hindrance from any official quarter and he is holding his promise - so far.. Mr Baswaraj, the Assistant Executive Engineer, who has been promoted as Exec Engr and was to report to his new position has been held back and given the responsibility to complete the road work before being relieved. The very fact that I get calls from BBMP, BWSSB and their contractors every day, giving me the progress report, surely must indicate their seriousness and commitment to complete the job at the earliest.

Finally, I wish to emphasize that there are several agencies at work at the same time, and while we are trying our best to coordinate their work as best as we can, there is a possibility of some glitches sometime. While we are guiding and putting gentle pressure on them, these agencies are bodies that have their own level of sensitivities. It would do us well if we hold our tempers and patience.


Major Kapur


Vasanth's picture

Ex Captains and Army Men with Senior Citizens to Lead This

Well I see many ex army men and captains being more serious about corruption and mostly 'civic oriented'. There are some senior citizens who were eminent officers before retiring such as our Justice Venkatachala who just got retired. These people contribute for the auditing job in the best way. Corporators and MLAs will be even afraid for corruption when people like Venkatachala are in charge.

Even there are some army men who can be corrupt, but, mostly not.

Only thing I am afraid is the senior citizens like our DGs and Karghes who can change this differently.

I was thinking of having an online system wherein which we  can track  funds for a locality and the amount spent with details along with its bill scanned in PDF format. All the Bills should be printed bills and should not be hand written. To do corruption, people simply scramble the description in hand written bills so that nobody can read it.

This should be available to all the citizens to view. Why we need secrecy for Government funds? Secrecy will lead to corruption which is best used by MLAs and corporators.

Bengloorappa's picture


TS, Vasanth and others...

If you remember my earlier post "Best practices for Bangalore", this is exactly what I have been advocating. This has already been experimented in Delhi and has been a big success, to the extent of Civic officials actually fearing the local representative more than his/her immediate boss!

I am personally convinced that this is the way to go for Bangalore as well, if we have to bring immediate results in a short time frame. Local civic bodies have much more insight into their own locality, which goes without saying.

The bottomline to make it happen, I think, is to project these civic bodies as a discerning vote bank and the average MLC, MLA, Corporator, Area officer will immediately be interested; Its time democracy uses its tool to the hilt.

tsubba's picture

agree vasanth

agree vasanth there is no substitute to ownership. in kannada/samskrutha thats antahakaraNa. nannadu anta aagbeku. it is mine that feeling should evolve. i must be very honest here. major kapur is my personal hero. i have been reading him for close to 2 years now. as i grow up i want to be like him.
silkboard's picture

Local activism and money matters

At the end of the day its about money. Any developmental work involves money. And in present times, that is what attracts many people to become MLAs or corporators. Citizens first priority is to make money for himself and his family, so only those who have already made the money, or have time to spare (retired folks) end up driving these organizations.

Not trying to belittle those who spend time, NEVER. The city must take it gets. But we need some 'disruptive' ways of getting folks to participate. I keep thinking and here is one thought, the least half-baked of a few on my mind.

Why not have local public auditors/monitors for all development work where money spent is more than X lakhs. This would be like how jury systems work in some countries.

  • Pick random or relevant educated/intellectual citizens from the area, make them partly responsible for signing off on completion of work, pending which, contractors won't get the money.
  • Risk would be
    • incentive for public auditors to indulge in corruption.
    • But by involving more people in the process, that risk comes down.
  • Benefits would be
    • the incentive of "instant" results or "difference" would invite more people
    • public involvement will increase transparency
Will love to see some ideas that other people may have. Responsible local governance with uniformly representative participation - I bet this is a dream many have, lack of which puts so much pressure and burden on nice folks like Major Kapur.
Vasanth's picture

Goals to Corporators and MLAs

Each and every locality should have some organizations to protect the locality's interest. They should meet on a regular basis and list out the priorities needed and set it as goals to corporators and MLAs with timelines.

There should be review meetings and explanation by corporators and MLAs for not having achieved the goal. Parks or choultries are best place to meet.

Before election, a list should be prepared about the goals, accomplished or not, deadline date and completion date. This should also be compared to previous MLAs and corporators. This is the best way for the people to guage the effeciency of their representatives. I think JNNURM can be used for funding such meetings.

Tier 2 cities like Mysore has got more such organizations.Localities like JP Nagar in Mysore was developed with interest groups formed by the local people. They also have a night beat police duty done by citizens on a rotation basis.

Bangalore people are more reluctant to communicate to each other which is best used by thieves as well as corporators. They pay money to goto club and make friends ther e just to share a drink, but, not with neighbours. Communication is good in older and localities occupied by middle and lower middleclass people than the upper class people. comment guidelines

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