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Success Story of a Street Committee at Mysore

Success Story of a street committee - C.I.V.I.L with G.I.S

What is C.I.V.I.L? C.I.V.I.L = C ITIZENS I NITIATIVE for V OTERS I NNOVATIVE L IST. What is G.I.S?   = G eographical I nformation S ystem

Why C I V I L? We keep complaining about all kinds of deficiencies in services like -

  • our names are missing in the voters list
  • my vote does not count
  • politicians have proved they are opportunists
  • irregular supply of water
  • bad quality drinking water,
  • bad power supply,
  • bad street lights
  • bad roads,
  • bad footpaths,
  • bad traffic & parking,
  • bad garbage disposal,
  • clogged drains,
  • air is polluted
  • adulteration of food, petrol, edible oil and other daily needs
  • corruption …. The list is long.

No doubt we pay taxes and it is our constitutional right to claim good services from concerned authorities.   At the same time, Constitution of India has also laid down certain duties and responsibilities to be discharged by the citizens.

Be honest and answer ….

  • Are we discharging our duties and responsibilities?
  • Have we filled up the relevant forms and followed them up to ensure our names registered/ updated in the voters list as and when EC gives a call?
  • Are we segregating garbage,
  • Have we ever said no to corruption ?

Answer is a big NO

So, let us all become a little CIVILised and help the authorities solve our problems with necessary G I S of our streets. 



CIVIL with GIS is a movement to spur all citizens into proactive civic movement of participatory democracy for a better society.  Our 6 decades of experience has made us feel that Government alone cannot do anything and everything with all their constraints and drawbacks. Therefore, when we, as citizens, do not take active part in telling them what we want because it is our money, then we will be giving them the liberty to do what they want and serve us with what they have cooked by using our money. Later we start complaining that there is no salt, it is not tasty, and this is not the menu we wanted. Why are we failing in our duty in deciding what the menu should be and how it should be cooked and served to our satisfaction since it is our money that will be used by them to buy all ingredients, cook properly and serve?

CIVIL initiative will also help and enable citizens to have community based social activities like how we can have a ready made disaster management system at grassroots level till professional services reach us, first aid training, neighborhood watch groups for protecting our property and family, fire fighting exercises, gas leakage handling, civil defense methods, HAM training, organizing group activities for education and entertainment of family members and children etc.


CIVIL with GIS will help authorities to develop a near perfect data for building up records, budgeting, assessment and collection of property taxes, planning infrastructure works based on citizens needs, improving green base, optimum utilisation of public property for creating assets and increasing revenue earnings, stop encroachments, develop parks, maintenance of footpaths, water supply management, power supply and street light management, reduces burden on civic authorities for collecting such data.   


TARGET STREET: II Cross, Umar Khayyam Road, Tilak Nagar, Mysore-570021 (Search this address in with Institution for the Deaf and Dumb -School on Sayyaji Rao Road, Mysore as the target – this street is next to that well known institution)



- Details of family members in the house, names, age, blood group, anybody disabled (these details can be extended to cover other statistical data about vaccination, polio, education, health care, etc also) 

- whether they had voters ID card or not, if Yes, give EPIC number, if not, give them details and educate them as to how to go about it

- whether own house or rented,  house number, address, satisfied with water/power supply or not with a little blank space to write what according to their perception, needs to be done for making their street a model street, whether they had any demands and grievances for redressal, if yes, what are they and whether they have any suggestion to solve the problem, etc.



Citizens were glad that this novel idea is being executed as a Pilot Project in their street; promptly returned the forms duly filled and many had even signed. Some residents voluntarily came and discussed certain points before inclusion and included power supply discussed and each house was given a form to fill up and return to the Convenor By becoming more responsible to the society we are living in. This was the beginning of formation of a Street Committee that has become vibrant and lady residents of the street meet every day evening to discuss various issues so that they can convey to their family members the need for improvements, if any.


The forms were perused, compiled into a statistical format and demands and grievances were listed with probable suggestive solutions.


A digital camera was used to capture the topography of the street, conditions of the streets, footpaths, borewell, vacant government land, conditions of drains with damaged culverts, potholed roads, cross road etc. In addition photographs of the street from different angles with buildings were recorded with a futuristic ambience of proper disaster management and with a possible scenario of terrorists strikes or dacoits getting holed up in some corners of the street.


  • a virtual digital tour of our street,
  • data collected for purposes of updating the electoral rolls, 
  • road conditions exposed,
  • condition of drains
  • condition of footpaths
  • trees and their varieties were identified for future planning for planting saplings, 
  • garbage disposal,
  • sweeping of street,
  • condition of street lights,
  • condition of bore well,
  • vacant government land and how it can be used,
  • exposure of irrational numbering of houses,
  • demands and grievances of the citizens and
  • how the problems can be redressed etc.


Citizens’ demands in brief  corroborated with digital virtual tour and plausible solutions as suggested by the citizens themselves :   II Cross, Umar Khayyam Road, Tilak Nagara,
Mysooru-570021 (Ward 43)  

1.      Traffic Problems: The junction at Bamboo Bazaar area, New Sayyaji Rao Road leading to Umar Khayyam Road and our II Cross has become an accident spot and movement of traffic needs to be controlled properly –


            (a) traffic control measures needs to be strengthened

            (b) traffic lights have to be installed;

© humps on Umar Khayyam Road between Canara Bank and Sayyaji Rao Road are unscientific and not painted; these have to be attended to.

(d) The PELICON signal system in front of Institute of Deaf and Dumb on New Sayyaji Rao Road is totally useless since it is not being used by citizens and even if they try to use, activate it and the red light shows, traffic continues to zip past ignoring the red light and endangering those who venture to use the system. After complaints, a reality check was conducted by a Traffic Cop and now it has totally been disconnected.   Such facility erected at a cost has become infructuous.

2.      Footpaths:  on either side of Umar Khayyam Road cannot be used by pedestrians because the pavements are absolutely uneven, muck removed from SWD are dumped, there is wild growth of weeds, misuse of footpaths on either side between Canara Bank and junction at Sayyaji Rao Road by some citizens to tie their cows to most of the trees –


(a) restrain citizens from tying the cows that dirty the footpaths leading to mosquito menance and unhealthy odour that spreads around;

(b) Clear the muck, provide channel outlets to let rain water from road to the SWDs, ensure proper camber while asphalting,  if necessary, lay ducts for future use of cable facilities on footpaths; lay interlocking cement blocks to make it pedestrian friendly; 

3.   Green Issues: Many decades old trees have been destroyed in front of Farooqia Dental College for widening the double road between Canara Bank and Shalimar Circle but no saplings have been planted in the median so far and between Sayyaji Rao road and Canara Bank, there is enough vacant space on pavement –


(a) Planting of fruit bearing saplings to share this world with the birds, bees and animals with has to be initiated;

(b) On a selective basis, herbal, medical and aromatic species have to be planted since growing only shade giving trees on such costly land will not serve the purpose in the long run

(c) the plants/trees etc., will act as carbon sinks in the present day conditions of global warming –

4. Culvert on side drains: At the entrance of II cross, there is no concrete culvert above the side drains; existing stone slab laid across the road drain and the side walls are damaged and the road has become narrow at the entrance itself.


(a)   Slabs have to be removed, muck under the road has to be removed, drain walls to be constructed and a concrete culvert laid;

(b)   Damaged SWD has to be repaired and the silt removed;

5.  At the entrance from Umar Khayyam Road, there is a large water supply valve chamber but not well maintained; a lot of debris are inside and reptiles/rodents have been seen moving around. Some entering the rooms of the students hostel of Institute for the Deaf and Dumb on Umar Khayyam Road have created a scare among inmates.


(a)   Chamber has to be cleaned and proper concrete cover laid;

(b)   The valve has to be examined for leakages and condition of the water supply pipe checked and action taken to set right.


The above are only illustrative and can be improved upon depending upon the needs of each street.

CIVIL with GIS Street Committee initiative is only a beginning for improving the living conditions of citizens by identifying 4-Ws – what, why, when, who - What they need most, Why they need it, When they want it and Who will do it. This grassroots level planning will help the service providers to put their head together and plan their budget, O&M and effective implementation of the plans of the people, by the people and for the people.

CIVIL with GIS - IMPACT – Deputy Commissioner, Mysore has evinced interest and would like to discuss the Street Committee Organisation and Methodology for probable implementation through RWAs/ Concerned Citizens etc.:

The Street Committee initiative CIVIL aims at bringing together a gamut of citizens needs for providing what the citizens need and for creation of a vibrant civil society at the grassroots level. A beginning has been made at Mysore with a power point presentation of the successful creation of the Street Committee to the Deputy Commissioner, Mysore in a meeting held on 9-3-2009 and the highly proactive DC has called for a detailed discussion on how to create a macro impact of the successful Street Committee pilot project in association with RWAs/Proactive Citizens etc., by May 2009. Further developments will be posted as and when they are finalized. The DC has also expressed the desire that all those concerned with the welfare of Mysore City or grassroots level participatory democracy including various associations etc., are most welcome and interact at the scheduled meeting.   This move is expected to induce others also to create a vibrant civil proactive society for ensuring a better peaceful world and will pave the way for reducing our complaints of paying taxes without getting services.  This effort also fulfills a gap about urban citizens active participation in metropolitan areas like the Gram Sabha at village levels.

It is our society, our street, our tax money and we have a right to demand and get what we want according to our needs in our neighborhood. Create your own Street Committees.


YES WE CAN – C I V I L with G I S


Presented by a Senior Citizen of Street Committee



Vasanthkumar Mysoremath IAAD (R)mail:;                   


Cell: 9845950440 / Res: 0821 4243319

ananth.bangalore's picture

Great work Mr. Vasnathkumar

Great work Mr. Vasnathkumar avare...GIS has always been a great tool used by any Urban Planning organisation- be it private or government bodies- to do any kind of planning, for ages now. 

Shouldnt the town planning authority be removed from place? Or atleast shouldnt there be a system to evaluate performance of the authority? i believe it is not at all difficult to audit their works. There are many private firms in India competent to even remodel and rejuvenate Manhattan. I know many of them are employed outside india to go great work. With organisations like that in India, we are still in the state what we are in. i ask myself why. When private organisations can do good work for as complex urban socio-cultural systems as Indian, why is the Indian government urban planning authorities able to achieve nothing? Citizens working with GIS maps, analysing data... what next? A good manager will never do his subordinates work. He will teach his subordinate to do his work. Who is to teach these failing authorities? is there some kind of protocol to follow or will anything done in that direction will be labelled as civil disobidience?

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Dhanyavaadagalu ananthu ... please be the change u want to see..


thank you and I earnestly hope that guys like you should be the change one would like to see.  For a moment let me imagine mr.Ananthu leading such a novel Street committee in his area - what a wonderful civilian scenario it would be !!!

Future world belongs to younger generations and if they become crestfallen then who will take charge of this world to improve?  Time has come for all of us to act in good faith and try to improve the society that is loosing its value by the day.

You are right in saying that a manager who knows sweeping, need not sweep his office. There are people meant to do that job.  But What if they do not do their job satisfactorily and the manager is so helpless that he cannot remove them from their jobs?  Here lies the real problem of the manager - he cleans at least his space and feels the temporary comfort and plans and punishes those who do not work properly. 

Moral, in the present context - citizens may start cleansing the voters list at street levels for ensuring their names and also to force the authorities with GIS to have a rational budget based on the demands and grievances of the local areas.

I hope I have made the position clear and can I expect positive action from Ananthu and from likie minded Prajas who read these posts?

I am an old man in a hurry.

- Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

ananth.bangalore's picture

Encouraging non-performance

Vasanth Avare,

While on one hand, i immensely appreciate the intention, the drive and the will to action solutions, on the other hand, you will never catch me leading such a street committee. For the same reasons ( as i will say below) , it will also be unconscientious of me to participate or even encourage such a committee.

"....What if they do not do their job satisfactorily and the manager is so helpless that he cannot remove them from their jobs?  ...."- Then the primary and more important intervention and effort is required in figuring out how to either make sure they do their job well or in figuring out how to purge the system of non-performers. The manager cannot feel helpless. If he does, he is not fit to be a manager. Every manager has these choices.

".....Here lies the real problem of the manager - he cleans at least his space and feels the temporary comfort and plans and punishes those who do not work properly. ...."- That is not a manager/leader if he 'cleans atleast his space'. Since the street committee is already done a dry run, what is your plan for punishing those who do not work properly, like you mentioned?

You tell me today that we can work towards eliminating non-performance (i dont understand why the technical team in the urban planning authority not able to do what a non-technical street committee of citizens can do) and i work with you. As a principle, i never offer money to those people waiting at the signals. I do not empathise incompetence, non-performance and the shamelessness associated with it. So while i agree with your motive and intention, i do not agree with your method. The other way is harder and more difficult to see tangible results soon, but there is no choice. Cleansing the system (so very cliched) is the only option.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Stating the obvious is not the solution

Dear Ananthu

I have rattled whatever you have said about 1000 times when I was young like you but I find a piece of me in you still rattling the obvious.  But at my age of 65, I have decided to take on the world with a new avataar that helps my grand children - who are already pointing an accusing finger saying

"Thatha, why are you asking us to take active part to correct the system tnow when you had your days to correct them but you did not do".

 I will be thankful if Mr.Ananthu could post a reply to the kids observations above.

- We know we have a 'flawed democracy' and our children and grand children will be inheriting a 'raped democracy' if we do not make an online course correction. 

At least you now agree with my motive and intention and also the methods being adopted with afuturistic ambience for a participatory democracy by well meaning citizens who need not be influenced by certain negative observations.  On the one hand you are stating the obvious which is not a solution and on the other you are not agreeing with the methods to improve. It is a double whammy which is haunting your thoughts.  Come out of it for once, just for once, be a part of the cleansing system, however, clyched it may be, conquer the impossible and show to the world that nothing is impossible. 

Have I said too much, sorry.. I would like to see you as the change you want to see.

Vasanth Mysoremath


ananth.bangalore's picture

With due respect to your age

With due respect to your age and life experiences..

Yes, the new generation will point fingers at me and you and accuse us of throwing this situation at them. As you yourself said, you had also been very angry and pointed fingers at probably a situation that you thought was equally bad then.For every new generation, the experiences are built on their learning and we need to remember that the experiences of the previous generation are learnings for the next (afterall, every generation does not keep inventing the wheel).

I dont know if you know this- there is a variety of termite in Africa that are known for their termite mounds. They build huge and complicated complexes. They do not have architects and engineers or blue prints. If those structures are scaled up in size to the proportion of humans vis-a-vis the termite, we will end up with a structure many kilometers long, 100 stories tall with huge complex interiors. And the irony is, it takes about 7 lifetimes of the termite for one structure to be completed. And 7 generations come to pass before completion. These termites believe in grand and complete schemes. This is an example actually to explain swarm behaviour pattern and chaos theory. I picked this up from a novel called 'Prey' by Michael Crichton.

So you pointed fingers, i am now pointing fingers and my child(ren) and grand child(ren) will point fingers as has been happening for all the time now. Shouldnt one generation break this chain and that generation be us- atleast after this realisation that local and temporary solutions not only create an illusion of well being but also do pave more way for further damage in the future?

"... At least you now agree with my motive and intention and also the methods being adopted with afuturistic ambience for a participatory democracy by well meaning citizens who need not be influenced by certain negative observations.  ..." - I only agree with your motive and intention. Not with the method. Meaning criticisms might at times carry the danger of looking like negative attitude. I am not afraid of this looking like one and i do not believe one is not free to review any plan of action, merely because the intentions and motive is excellent.

".... On the one hand you are stating the obvious which is not a solution and on the other you are not agreeing with the methods to improve. ..."- I am not agreeing with the proposed method, but i did propose a alternative method. Any system goes through study, conceptualisation, design, testing with skeleton implementation, review and revision and final deployment. Now we already have a deployed system and if it is not working, shouldnt we look at review, revision and re-deployment instead of using a stand-by system?

I am very much part of the cleansing system and very against doing the same mistakes in the name of reform. Our constitution should rarely need amendments if the system is sound; the system should allow for future possibilities and unknowns, but should posses standard protocols to absorb and accommodate such future. Our systems cannot say- "i will amend it accordingly when it happens". Our systems need to say- "Let anything happen, i know i will be cause they happen or atleast seamlessly accomodate that which happens."

Ok, heres what can be a very relevant and seemingly very disconnected starting point- put together the data of resources India posses- human, natural, mineral, metal, etc etc.. Have a complete comprehensive data on everything we have. Codify resources (US has the social security number and one cannot exist without that- here we dont need a PAN number to exist). Make all governments work with one system- part of the whole (OOPS concept) (unfortunately, India still works like small princely states in essence). Which means once there is a birth, the birth certificates are issued, or still better- birth certificates are not needed when  passports are issued, the persons movements tracked and recorded, his ration card and PAN card are not needed, because he/she posses a 'Citizen Card' or a 'Citizen Biometric Record' is maintained, and voting rights are given at the right age, cinema tickets to a 18+ movie is not issed to him/her because he still has 3 days before he/she becomes 18, and death is declared if his traces are lost.

A quick example of how hipocratic the constitution was- India is supposed to be a secular country. So shouldnt it be a law to subject any discrimination on the grounds of religion or caste? Well the same constitution has let our politicians promote reservations based on caste and let some religiously biased hospitals grant more benifits to the patients of the same religion. How stupid are we?

We can either want to provide real peace and progress - which will be very slow and tiresome- or we can want to see quick progress which might be an illusion. We have a choice.

Meanwhile, yes, when my son/daughter points fingers at me, i will have to appologise for having taken that call to push this system down their throats because i wanted them, and take the punishment if they provide one. But the hope is they will be next generation of the termite until the 7th generation arrives and buys in the idea. Hope is everything for some people and i believe i am one.

silkboard's picture

"Be the change you want to see"?

This quote is overused, honestly. The change that we (at least I myself) want to see is "more involvement and concern for local service delivery issues" from people. There is a fine line between

  • tracking, expecting better, and asking for services promised to us, AND
  • doing the job the local utility providers or governments are supposed to do

The "NGO-mode" is increasingly not going to cut it. Goal of any serious NGO working with Local Utility Providers - seriously, should be to make itself unwanted over time.

Everyone should do the job they are paid for. Let me run with an example so that I make some sense.

Helping Traffic Police doesn't mean all Praja members sign up to become traffic wardens. I'd rather have us go and find out what is it that Traffic Police is struggling with. It could be their budget, their policy contraints, or plain and simple - internal non-performance.

There is a middle-ground between

  • Simple cribs/complaints - Traffic Police sucks, they don't do their job type of whining
  • NGO mode goodies - let me become a traffic warden type thing

What is that middle ground?

  • Understand the operations of Traffic Police. Are 1800 men enough? Is their budget keeping pace with growth in vehicles? Are they using their time well? How is BTRAC going? How are they measuring "Return on Investment" on BTRAC? What are their own internal performance measures and indicators - road fatality, or number of tickets handed out, or average speeds going between well known points A and B?

Unfortunately, since govt bodies don't readily share their operational data , we have got to do some work to know them better. Once we know them better, we can draw conslusions and act, not before that.

  • If the issue was non-performance, us taking interest in know their "innards" may push them to perform better. Ex; Lethargic progress on Computerization inside Traffic Police and RTO (which has picked up off late)
  • If they have genuine constraints, we may help spread awareness about them, and do some effective "activism" to work on them. Ex: Genuinely short on budget or staff, need for mechanization.

Bottomline - us taking more and deeper interest is a simpler and cheaper way to get the "change we want to see". It doesn't involve volunteering to do other people's jobs, neither does it involve needless cribbing and ranting.



Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Gandhigiri is what I have in mind... bullet points/bottom line

SB Sir / Ananthu

I believe in Gandhigiri and many youngsters are resorting to this mode of putting the service providers to shame by doing things at grassroots level and this is becoming a wild flame that will give the future generation light, energy and warmth for a better governed society.  Believe me, it is already on. And they are proving that they have become the change they want to see (not overused but realistically used).

The bullet points are real bullets that should hit the service providers who are suffering from the syndrome 'what is in it for me' for services that should be rendered to the citizens without any favor because they are eking out their livelihood from our tax payments.  But they feel that the salary they get is only bread and there is no butter or jam.  So, to provide these, they indulge in all sorts of corrupt and nefarious activities.  We are alo equal partners in this unlawful activity - because, for many of us, at some time or the other, this route was easier than cribbing and ranting.   

This is the bane of our system. We have succombed to such attrocious behaviours of these people and Mr.Manivannan's post appears to be relevant here - he has modestly called it 'inefficiency' and is seeking help from citizens.  He is clearly saying that the administration is ready to take the lead and make the initiatives of citizens workable.  

Bottomline may need a revision after interaction with the DC, Mysore proposed to be held shortly.

- Gandhigiri Zindabad   

ananth.bangalore's picture

YAY!! I agree. :)

I agree that the key is to hit the middle ground. And that is the way to go. I second this- "NGO mode" will not work for us. Getting into the system, understanding the context, resources, processes and measuring performance will be key to make any sensible progress.

Apart from the non-performance issues, one has to preempt issues with regard to lack of resources pointing towards lack of sufficient funds. Obviously one will have to work with this constraint. Otherwise, surely a lot can be done with respect to any issue when considered holistically. For the same example, we will have to not only understand the systems within the traffic police departments, but also on how transportation planning can go hand in hand (which is imperative) to achieve better results.

Actually, if SB can throw some light on how much cooperation we can expect from the authorities and how to improve that cooperation, it will be reassuring. Also, can we have a sketch on the methodology (if i knew better, i could have attempted one)? My thought is that we should firstly draw a big circle encompassing all the components (across departments) of the issues concerned, break them into parts and approach it from various perspectives. Then it becomes comprehensive to dissect, analyze and draw out solutions.




Naveen's picture

NGOs' Involvement Has to Be Variable

I am not sure where all this is leading to - NGOs, or "lobbies", as they are termed in developed countries will always have a role to play, however developed or well-off the state or country may be since they assist the formal "voices" of the citizens.

It is true that NGOs can never replace & also do not have to start doing the job for those repsonsible to do it. Rather, they must exist only to set examples, if required & usher in improvements since the regulatory framework may, at times turn blind to the demands, & "checks & balances" are necessary to provide for needs.

In India of course, being a poor country with very poor governance & serious lack of infrastructure, people like VKM have gone much further as have many NGOs to assist with efforts, & such efforts need to be lauded. The correctional mechanisms are going to take a long time to set themselves right due to severe poverty, lack of finances & primitive methods for delivery of governance.

As the saying for a democracy is "Of the people, By the people, For the people", NGOs are very much a part in all of this, though they will exist in varying degrees of involvement, based on the needs of individual states.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Variables - need to be relaxed for way forward

Naveen Sir,

U R right. 

Time has come for 'of the people variable' to move forward, act now and show to the authorities that citizens mean business and they, the consumers of public money,  should up their antenae to keep pace with the changing mindset of citizens who are ready to contribute their expertise, knowledge and services for the sake of participatory democracy and for leading the country to become a super power, otherwise, face the flak and ire of the simpletons at appropriate platforms. 

We the citizens. will have to make it clear to the authorities that those 'unwilling horses' or those who are suffering from the syndrome of 'what is in it for me' should move away from this valuable initiative 'of the people' so that those 'good souls' at the top level may have some willing workers to see a change.

- Vasanth Mysoremath

thampan's picture

a ward committee ?


if i were to summarise the idea - this would be an extension of the panchayati raj - every ward has a representative in the local govt - he/she could form a local ward committee - who looks after all the civil issues in the locality and interacts with the governmental departments to rectify the issues.

The points you have made could be the agenda/working plan of this committee. 

1) Street and traffic management ( is the infra structure in place ? )

2) local environment ( drains, sewage, trees ... ) 

3) Citizen rights and affairs ( electoral rolls, census etc ) 

and so on ...

Of course , in the techno world, technology should be used to do all this efficiently ( GIS, digital pics and so on ... )

There  are initiatives which happen at various parts of the country where such groups are formed with many of these points in their agenda - their success is often not publicized and failures not analyzed - 

Perhaps, in big cities - these initiatives have to be driven at street level as you have demonstrated due to the large population - what will be the ideal size to replicate this across the country ? one committee for every 200 houses ( 1000 people) ? or 1000 houses ( 5000 people) ( just thinking out loud) 


( could this be replicated with the responsibilities as thought out by Vasanth Sir ? )



thampan's picture

planning commission

please find a link on what the planning commission has to say about devolving power to the local bodies ... ( have not read through it completely)


And from another planning commission document ( ) 

( bolding mine .. )

11.13 The Tenth Plan acknowledged that there is a pressing need for capacity building of municipalities through training of elected and appointed officials and by restructuring of ULBs for efficient management of civic services. The public service element needs to be made more professional and accountable to the people. Community involvement not only results ineffective implementation of the projects but also leads to better designing and substantial reduction in operational costs. ‘Ward Committees and Area Sabhas’ are ideal for participatory management. By making ward plans mandatory, the ward councillors become accountable, thus improving urban governance. 

So it is not that the thoughts are lacking ... some one has to push to make these happen at ground level.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Ward committees/Area sabhas are manned by puppets....

Thampan Sir

Yes U R there.

Rural scenario of grassroots level participation - Villages have gram sabhas, Talukas have Taluk Panchayats and Districts have Zilla Parishaths.  This three tier system was initiated in the first ever Panchayat Raj experiment in India - archestrated by RDP Minister of Karnataka Abdul Naazer Saab.  Now it has undergone a lot of amendments. 

But in urban scenario - grassroots level governance in the form of Ward Sabhas/Area Sabhas (tenth plan) are found to be lacking in their fundamental fulfilments of area management system.  These sabhas are invisible in cities and exist mostly on paper and if at all there is a semblance of their existence, the members are the puppets of Councillors/MLA/MPs or localised leaders who are a bunch of non-performers and yes-men.

What can be expected of them for a good governance?  It is my area, my tax money and I want certain things to be done in my surroundings.  And I have every right to suggest in consultation with our neighbors.  Any problem? 

Our idea of good governance must be to help them to help us and without waiting for them to come for our help to do things that they do not prioritise.  Again, I want to eat a  menu I like and the one that fills my stomach (Anna+Sambar+Happala) and I want the cooks (the service providers) to properly prepare the food and serve me because they are paid for that purpose.  I would like to supervise the cooking because they are bad cooks - Step in - Street Committee.

Paper recommendations are unclaimed dead bodies in the morgue.

-  Only babies who cry get the milk (SB Sir, you posted once saying that good babies do not cry!) But though I am a good baby, I want to cry because I have really, honestly, become hungry now.

-Vasanth Mysoremath


thampan's picture

3/4 tier system

 Vasanth Sir, 

The three tier system has now grown into a four tier system - ( from the link i mentioned above )


Kerala has created a fourth tier in the form of Grama Sabhas equated with the electoral constituency of a Village Panchayat All the electors of the Ward are members of the Grama Sabha. It is an attempt to create a new set up for direct democracy - involving the people of the ward. The Grama Sabhas have been given clear rights and responsibilities with absolute powers for identification of beneficiaries, strong advisory powers for prioritizing developmental needs and wide powers of social audit.


I believe this is what is required at urban and rural levels. ( I am not saying that the above model has already become a perfect success, but it is a step in the right direction )

Rural areas - ward committees

Urban areas - street committees ?

a) What we would need is a strong push to get this legislation passed,( if it does not exist ) - I guess your efforts would help in that aspect

b) With all electors of the ward being members -there could no longer be any puppetry - all interested folks will be able to attend the meetings - regardless of rich-poor, techsavvy - non tech savvy divide.

( how the meetings happen, who gets to run them etc could very well be managed at local unit levels with the RTI tools )

c) These sabhas may elect core groups to work on critical issues. 

d) City wise/district wise core groups could be formed from these sabhas ( more required in urban areas) to discuss about  wider issues ( city planning etc )


Make the rules, empower citizens, encourage participation. 

I guess the efforts of people like Vasanth Sir will be most required in the last part as he is already doing.


PS: Praja could provide the technical platform for the tech savvy ( i think that core working groups formed would have lots of such folks ) to collaborate and discuss issues.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

2007 thread by Taralesubba. on citizens committee...

This interesting post is about Citizens Committee at Hubli-Dharwad, which I just dug out from previous Praja:

Indeed replicable. Insurance may be a component to ensure quality control.

-Vasanth Mysoremath


Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture


Dear All

Between 28th March 2009 - the date on which CIVIL with GIS ppt  was showcased at the Mysore City Corpn. - and todate, certain developments have taken place, may be due to our street committee requests contained in the GIS portion  -

Report:  We the citizens were out on the street when these things happened:

1. The garbage bin that was at the very entrance of our street - a most unwelcome landmark -  always overflowing with uncleared garbage, was moved to a distance and the spot has grown some greenery

2. The street that had not seen filling up of potholes (we the citizens were doing up the pot holes on our own) for years, was filled with asphalt and covered with black topping.

3. The unkempt side walks were neatly marked and the muck that was encroaching on the remains of a tar road were cleared, dusted and made ready for black topping.

4. Two days ago, the entire road that had not seen black topping for the past 12 years or so, was neatly spread with black topping, the Corporator was requested to be present and he was physically present, contractor stood by, citizens watched and requested for a good lay and it was ensured.  Problem stretches of the road were identified, wherever necessary, a little extra topping was spread to make it even and two kinds of rollers did their jobs neatly and the road along with blacktopping of by-lanes also is a sight for all of us.  

- Ladies of "Harate Katte' were requested not to pour water for two days for Rangoli and they obliged.  Third day, they did a good job of their Choicest Rangoli Art work on the freshly laid road and it was as if some art motiffs were spread.  People were seen circumventing the Rangoli and walk on sides. 

5. Half a dozen workmen came and removed the hapazard growth of grass and levelled the side walk area of a particular stretch of the road and the muck heaped is being removed.

Future plans:

- It has been decided by the citizens of our street that in the cleared area of the side walk - to plant herbal, fruit bearing, aromatic saplings rather than keeping the land vacant and letting it be encroached because it is now looking neat and clean. 

- In a stretch of govt. land, a request is being made to put up a hopcoms stall / Mysore ONE - bill payments outlet (when introduced). 

So far so good -

- Are these things difficult for our other concerned citizens to emulte?

- It is our money, our street and we have our own demands and grievances - so, let us request what we want.

- Let us help the authorities to help ourselves - It was heartening to see many ladies taking active part.

- Vasanthkumar Mysoremath

trimurthi's picture

Impact - very satisfying I guess

While the debate on the extent of citizen participation goes on, progress has been made. The best part of ideas that work is its evolution combined with persistance.

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Impact-ThanQ-MCC-drain silt on UK Rd being removed...


Dear Prajegale,

This post relates to the impact of the citizens movement - "Sucess of a Street Committee in Mysore"

Thanks to MCC, Mysore and Happy to inform Prajas that - 

 - silt /muck / debris dumped in the Storm water drains on Umar Khayyam Road is being removed in a systematic manner for the past 2 days and I understand from the supervisor that the muck on the footpath will be removed in a day or two so that it does not get back into the drain with monsoon rain.

-  a few days ago, a few street lights that were not working were made to light up properly.

-  I wish I knew how to upload realtime digital action photos of periodical impacts being carried out to oblige citizens initiative because it is they who are trying to ensure value for their money, infrastructural works as per their needs and how good the authorities can be if helped by citizens. 

(In the alternative, if any of the prajas can give their email ID and can receive and upload the photos in jpg format, will be obliged) or call 9845950440

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