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How they do it: Citizen Committees in Hubli-Dharwad

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Hubli & Dharwad, the oft-neglected poor cousins of Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore, have pioneered a systematic method of actually involving citizens in the upkeep of the city. And the citizens have responded with innovation & motivation …

People of a residential area in Hubli have insured a critical arterial road passing through their area for Rs 2 lakh with an annual premium of Rs 303. The residents contributed equally to pay the premium. In case of any claims for the damages mentioned in Standard Fire and Special Perils Policy schedule, the amount would be directly remitted to HDMC’s account from which the road can be rebuilt.

This whole idea of insuring the road, so as to be able to better maintain it, came from the citizens. It was presented to the commissioner, who agreed to insure it on behalf of the corporation. The citizens then went ahead and got a No Objection Certificate from HDMC, and then approached an insurance company. The road now is insured.

Innovation, localization, motivated citizenship, and responsive administration - this is the holygrail of citizen participation in governance. And yet, this did not happen by accident. This is exactly how the system was designed to work. Yes, Hubli & Dharwad, the oft neglected poor cousins of the pampered Bangalore, Mangalore and Mysore sisters, have pioneered a systematic, by-the-rule, system of actually involving citizens in the upkeep of the city. Nay, they have a system that mandates citizen’s participation in the upkeep of the city. To quote Manivannan, the HDMC commissioner –

HDMC no more takes up any work from head office. Funds are allocated to local Zonal offices and they take up the work in consultation with the local citizen committees. … Work will be taken up as per the priority list of the citizen committee only. The commissioner has no discretionary powers in this regard.

He of course, is referring the Hubli & Dharwad Citizen’s Committee that he not only envisioned, but also worked tirelessly to implement. There is no precedent of such a committee anywhere in India. The grass roots level Citizen’s Committee is no elitist oligarchy. It is made up of ordinary citizens who pass certain minimum qualifications. (Those interested in details can look up this reference.)

But the Citizen’s Committee is not HDMC’s only claim to fame. Get this, the message I have quoted above, the one in italics, the one about HDMC not taking any work from the head office - that, is the actual text typed by the commissioner himself on an Internet forum that is moderated by a citizen volunteer, Sunil Nalvade. Apart from the commissioner and the deputy commissioner, various other officials including engineers from the local electricity board are members of that group and openly offer to answer any relevant questions that citizens might have.

All this has not gone un-requited, Manivannan is now set to be transferred and citizens are doing everything in their power to retain him, for the third term. But there is more to this than personality worship, the changes are fundamental - to complete the story about the insured road, I quote the DH article that got me writing:

The people here opined that the corporation has helped them a lot in many things and it was also their duty to do something in return to help the civil body.

The residents are now planning to plant saplings on either sides of the road for further development.


Nagesh Tavarageri's picture

Citizens participation in Hubli-Dharwad development

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Dear Subbu, Namaskara. It is a nice article highlighting the achievements of "oft-neglected cousins of Bangalore, Mysore and Managalore", ie., citizens of Hubli-Dharwad, in your article on blog. Kindly accept my sincere appreciations for the same. There have been couple of other citizens who have been participating, to spread the essense of good administrative changes within HDMC governance and also the nurturing of inherent and untapped potentials to invest in the changed scenario of the twin-cities. My own blog,, has been trying to propagate the potentials of the twin cities, to attract investments, attract the attention of the CEOs/NRIs/influential personalities who can champion the waves of change and also get benefitted. Thanks to our Hon.Commissioner, this blog is part of the HDMC website itself, under the City blogs section. To retain our beloved Hon.Commissioner, an online petition has been floated on the internet and we have collected about 380 signatures from across the world, from the citizens of Hubli-Dharwad. Sadly we are unable to propagate this facility to the majority of 10+ lakhs citizens within the twin cities, due to lack of information dissemination. Although the article did come up on the Times of India, the visibility is small, limited to only few educated. More information about this petition is available from my blog @ http://nageeta.blogspot.c.... To wrap up, the essense and best part of "goodness" at the administrative levels is contagious, like the "smiles" on a face. If one brave hearted personality like Hon.Commissioner, Mr.Manivannan can change a "written-off administrative entity" (HDMC as of couple of years ago) into a qualitative entity to have "ISO 9000" stamp from the International agencies, it is ought to catch up with the citizens of the twin cities also, and it has truly caught up. Cannot thank Hon.Commissioner enough for this mermerizing changes that he has brought about. Thanks in anticipation. Have a good day. Best regards, Nagesh Tavarageri
tsubba's picture

The changes are fundamental

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namaskara nagesh.

thanks for your kind words.

I am not aware of things in mangalore, but in mysore and bangalore there a few organizations and a few really motivated individuals who volunteer to track developments and city's affairs. But there is no formal mechanism for them to interact with the authorities here. All of them rely on their personal contacts and rapport with the officials to get things done. we donot have a system like Hubli & Dharwad which would work irrespective of interpersonal relationships and that which is so egalitarian.

As you are aware JNNURM requires people to participate, infact, it mandates that proposals should originate from the people but both BLR & MYS have failed miserably in developing a relationship with their citizens, they have not even tried anything meaningful to cultivate any relationship. That they had a website to post proposals came to light after the CDP was published!!! Infact, if you read reviews of their proposals you will see that they have been chided time and again for the lack of people participation.

infact, that is one of the goals for us at praja. try to get people, ordinary folks involved in governance. to try to get them start talking about their problems and then develop a systematic way to interact with the authorities.

It is really heartening to see that HD has taken a proactive step in this regard. That this came about without any one mandating it and despite that basic financial support from the state/center is still lacking is all the more heartening.

transparency, quality of service metrics and participation -long after the asphalt on hubli's roads have worn out people will remember Manivannan for bringing in these fundamental changes.

of course it helps that there are people like you, Praveen, Sunil, Dr. Ginimav and others who are so passionate about their city.

silkboard's picture

nice informative post

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TS - good one. till an year ago or so, I read similar things about Kalyan/ Dombivli (Maharashtra) being proactive in citizen-interfacing via egovernance.

About JNNURM and Bangalore - shouldn't Bangalore be prevented from getting JNNURM funds because it has not fulfilled the pre-conditions ? "City Development Plans (CDPs) should be prepared through multi-stakeholder consultations" - how did that go here?

E.R. Ramachandran's picture

Manivannan and Mysore

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TS and Nagesh, Ibbarigu Namskara! While Mysore is singularly fortunate in getting an officer of the calibre of Manivannan, I hope the local politics and politicians will not come in the way of his style of functioning.He may have to wield the big stick when it comes to illegal structures and step on the toes of big guns here. I hope he shows his usual wellknown enterprise in handling these things. I really feel 'the Gandhi Square' is very good concept and we should see him with a good plan.Sooner the better.Tell me when this can be done. Parking is a major problem in Bangalore and will become so in 2-3 years in Mysore. The VW Car Parkin Munich could be a good option for Bangalore in a couple of places where there are malls and huge shopping complexes.If you think this plan is workable we can try and get further details from Volkswagen. The citizen committee plan of HDMC is amazing.Hope Mysore doesn't waste a great opportunity.
tsubba's picture

Dr. M.C. Sindhur's road insurance blog

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A blog for an insured road
Girish S. Pattanashetti, The Hindu

Reportedly the country’s first road belonging to a municipal corporation which got insured by a citizen in Hubli, has now got a blog started in its name.

Mrutunjay C. Sindhur, a medical practitioner who took the initiative in getting the road insured for Rs. 2 lakh, has now created a blog for the sake of creating awareness on the benefits of getting roads insured.

The blog,, has all the details on the new initiative, which is now under consideration by the Limca Book of Records.

In the blog, Dr. Sindhur has explained why insuring a road was required and the benefits of it. The blog has details on the procedure for getting a road insured, who could insure a road and what documents were required for insuring a public road.

The blog has also details on the risks that were covered by the insurance, how the claims would be settled and how such road insurances would benefit the local civic bodies and how it would help the financial burden on the civic body concerned.

“For the first time, an initiative was taken to get a road insured. I wanted people in other places to know that such a thing was possible and also encourage them to take up such an initiative in their areas. So I started the blog,” Dr. Sindhur told The Hindu.

Although a busy medical practitioner, Dr. Sindhur has found time for getting himself involved in some social service activities. After getting the Timmasagar Temple Main Road at Vidyanagar insured, where his clinic is situated, he has now along with likeminded people from the locality taken up the responsibility of growing trees on either side of that road. Timmasagar Temple Main Road connects two arterial roads — the old National Highway No 4 at one end and the Unkal Hosur bypass road at the other.

The 385-metre long 9-metre wide road which was in a state of neglect for years was asphalted by Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation at a cost of Rs. 10.5 lakh during August 2007.

It was then that the idea of getting the road insured struck Dr. Sindhur. After he followed up the matter with the then municipal commissioner P. Manivannan, a “no objection certificate” was issued by the corporation for getting the road insured. Consequently, the road was insured by Dr. Sindhur through The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. The insurance company has issued a two-year policy for the Timmasagar Temple Main Road for a sum assured of Rs. 2 lakh carrying an annual premium of Rs. 303 Standard Fire and Peril Policy Schedule and Policy.

The insurance cover is now applicable to damage caused by fire, lightning, explosion, aircraft damage, malicious damage, natural calamities such as erosion due to excess rain, landslip and leakages in water pipeline.

As per the conditions, the amount pertaining to claims under the insurance policy would be directly credited by the insurance company into the bank account of the corporation.
tsubba's picture


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from WHY INSURANCE IS NECESSARY FOR PUBLIC ROADS? Whenever Civic authorities like Corporations or Government, semi Government Organizations Undertake public works through Tenders for Public Roads the maintainance clause applicable for damages but that occur due to Natural Calamities like excess rains, floods are not Accountable in Maintenance conditions put to the contractors . In all such cases Road Insurance will Come in rescue of protecting the road infrastructure. And dependency for repair on the civic bodies like Municipal Corporation is totally avoided which usually causes lot of delays And long process by itself in under taking such Repair works. If the damages are within the clause of claims for repair works can be carried out independently and immidiatly . Thus Insuring the public roads a better option and easy way for all city corportaions because the maintainance will be much neglected in most of the cities in India and Insuring the Public roads will defenitely help maintain them.
Naveen's picture

Most Interseting !

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Terrific Work by Dr.Sindhur - this is a unique concept & worth looking into seriously. comment guidelines

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