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Abide - all the right noises

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Governance

#1. at yesterday's meet, the media reports that while the CM spoke on finances and the big picture, the heads of various departments spoke of issues at a much finer scale, and the members of various RWA's spoke about many nuts and bolts issues[1]. (Added later: After I have written all that I have written, I observed a curiously familiar position on sakrama, property taxes and egovernance by a name very familiar. I am 99.87% sure that our own Silkboard has found mention in that article. which means he was there. So he will defintely post his field notes. You can ignore this post.) All else apart, that these type of interactions between the netas-the babus-and the greater city praja have been hapenning on-and-off in the past few years is by itself a positive sign. it augurs well that the politicians of KA have learnt to make the right sort of noises as far as civic issues of bangalore are concerned. And the CM has promised to take this to 7 other cities. Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Bellary and Davangere city.

#2. Missing, ofcourse, in action were any local representatives because they dont exist. From what I read, this was apparently a meeting with pan city agenda - sewage systems, garbage disposal, governance, metro, mono, roads type of issues were discussed. Nobody is reported to have mentioned anything area specific. So, local representatives even if they were present, they too would prolly have given out pan bangalore ideas and opinions like the others.

#3. Dr. Ravindra made a presentation on the Dr. Kasthurirangan Committee report. It is interesting that the report is finding greater and greater mention and word is spreading. But it is curious that nobody has raised the obligatory dissenting voice from any quarter.

References:

  1. Tips from people for good governance Bangaloreans want more accountability from officials One citizen suggested local residents’ views must be obtained in case of land use change There was a complaint that BBMP does not respond to emails http://www.hindu.com/2008...
  2. Laying facts bare... It was one of the rare chances that laymen were provided to interact with the decision makers in different government departments. http://deccanherald.com/C...
  3. For a world-class city! Bangalore, dhns: The State Government has brought out a Bangalore-specific policy and would strive to make it a world class city with world class infrastructure, said Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, while inaugurating the interactive workshop on Saturday. This was promised by the BJP in its election manifesto. http://deccanherald.com/C...
  4. Govt motto: ABIDE by experts views Over 400 experts from various fields, including several residents welfare associations and civic organisations, participated in the day-long interactive workshop Agenda for Bangalore Infrastructure Development (ABIDE) , organised by the State Government, http://deccanherald.com/C...
  5. See changes in infrastructure of Bangalore in a year: Yeddyurappa ‘I have a dream to transform it into a city of global standards’ http://www.hindu.com/2008...
  6. Summits to be held in seven cities http://www.hindu.com/2008...

Comments

tsubba's picture

bottom line

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But beyond what was said and heard, what exactly does this meeting amount to? How permanent is this and how legally binding is this? Who gets to participate? The CM and the babus heard opinions, but what is it that they learnt, if anything? Is any of what was said or discussed actionable or binding? In the wake of this public meeting, will the babus and the netas hit the drawing boards and the meeting rooms? And what is the permanence of this? x months from now will the meeting be held again to take stock of what was said and what was done? All this is not all that fanciful and extraordinary at all. This is precisely the type of setup that the JNNURM is trying to build, though i am not sure if it suggests any systematic mechanisms to build this public participation beyond the town hall meeting type of setup. Meetings of this type allows people direct access to decision makers and executive body. ------------------------------
tsubba's picture

understanding citizen participation

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To understand all this, i think it is important to understand the classical constitutional framework of local bodies. i dont understand it fully, but roughly, I think it amounts corporators playing the role of intermediaries between the various decision makers and people. Can somebody point to relevant information please. Another important issue to understand: What exactly does citizen partnership mean? Are citizens partners in decision making? are citizens observors and watchdogs? are citizens augmenters? are citizens facilitators? Or do citizens provide agendas? if so what is a citizen's agenda - what is good for me, what is good for the city or what is good my group? or are the citizens supposed be all these and more - taxesshu maata and generously fund the cities indulgences, karaneshu mantri, kaaryeshu Dasa, shayaneshu rambha, nagara praja pati? does the classical framework mandate interaction between decision makers and people beyond the electoral process? to build a grade separator at a particular location do you have to consult the local people? Folks with greater experience in dealing with civic issues should help us understand what IS and OUGHT to be a realistic expectation from meets of this type.
Vasanth's picture

Need for voting on decision making

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All the major decisions should be taken by voting such as Metro or Mono, decisions related to alignment, bus routing system etc.

In the state of Washington for instance to decide between Monorail and Lightrail implemented by a private company soundtransit, a major public meeting was done where both the technologies were described to public in detail, the pros and cons of each technology and its suitability and finally a voting was done to decide on which technology was to be implemented based on which light rail was decided. They similarly did for BRTS and Light rail, which was decided as BRTS convertible to light rail based on the usage.

We do need such meetings. Yesterday's meeting of CM with BBMP,BDA etc could have been opened to interested public.But, in India we have problems where in which people attend such meetings to meet top officials and get their personal things done. Somehow this needs to be controlled.

s_yajaman's picture

What did the previous PPP really achieve (SM Krishna's times)

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I have been reading about how in SM Krishna's times, PPP was active and the city was great and glorious.

I am not so sure about how much was really achieved.  The Congress government came down in May 2004.  By Oct 2004/Jan 2005 things had crumbled (according to all the bigwigs at least and TOI reports).  All I saw on my visits to Bangalore then were that road got tar on them, one wretched flyover was built (Richmond Circle), ORR was done (but without a service road or setoffs).  A number of one-ways were made without thought to bus commuters and pedestrians.  I might be wrong.

If something can crumble within 6-8 months, it shows something about institution building and long term thinking.

My biggest problem with PPP is this.  Private here is corporate.  Corporate interests are usually self serving and not necessarily in the public interests (e.g. elevated road vs. Mass transit on Hosur Road).  They also come with a history of success in their ventures and hence their opinions are given a lot of importance and may not be subject to the same critical evaluation that someone else's ideas maybe.  Bad ideas get accepted quickly because they come from corporate bigwigs.

I am not that taken up by PPP in this form. 

Srivathsa

 

 

Drive safe.  It is not just the car maker which can recall its product.

tsubba's picture

BATF

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hmm... they were playing the role of coordinators between the various b* agencies mostly. work in waste management, water etc etc. also remember reading that the new look bustops was batf contribution. plus they had also done some work with junction improvements at some locations. ofcourse the famous signboards got done then i think. (dodda gowdru dug up that smk's relative had all the signboard contracts) there are ample evidences that the role of coordinator is done poorly by b* agencies and somebody has to babysit them through projects to get anything done in time. the potholed roads, i think was due to corruption at a very fundamental level. b* was not mandating standards. standards were set by contractors and b* would simply agree to it. some blessed souls dragged the palike to courts on this. the courts went hammer and tongs in a multi volume(there were something like 3 reports) ruling. b* was left kicking and crying. but they have learnt some other tricks now. has been a while since i heard anything about potholes in a while - apart from a few dilli based journalists mouthing cliches, not heard too much about asphalting issues. eega yenidru multi thousand crore projects vonly. folks at KI ofcourse also do all this. there are folks there who know the the entire process of road laying like the backside of their hands and give you fundas on what mix goes at what stage at what depth. but agree with you on the basic question and diagnosis: who could get in into BATF? what was the criteria?
silkboard's picture

The risk with BATF, CityConnect etc

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A disclaimer first - it is assumed that corporates or us commoners or whoever, all mean well for the city, and want to do 'something'. So, this is not an attack on any personalities, its only an observation on particular initiatives being talked about here.

In his presentation, Mr Ramesh Ramanathan (I was not sure who he was representing, Janaagraha or CityConnect) cited the example of a railway overbridge under construction near Whitefield railway station. Its been under construction for 1.5 years now. He said the project is stuck due to lack of coordination between a few govt bodies, and CityConnect can help resolve those to get the project completed.

Don't we need institutional ways of resolving things like these? What is the legality of CityConnect or anybody that it should get a chance to play facilitator there? How exactly will they facilitate? Will they be transparent about what they would do? What magic will they do that the govt itself was unable to? Will any fast forwarding decision involve the real stakeholders from the ground (say - some local residents who may be opposing some work)? If they engage professional help for any technical matter, will they get the best, or simply the ones from their 'circle'?

Best ideas always come from the ground. Being knowledgeable in one field doesn't always make you knowledgeable in others, because, you are likely to know a lot of things from the ground in your chosen field of work. The best products and systems are designed by the users, and not designers. At least in the software world, we often make the mistake of banking on our intelligence to assume the needs of users and thus build bad products simply because we 'misrepresent' the potential users.

The need of the day is transparency. And then, constitutional channels of feedback. And then will come accountability.

Participation should only happen in one way - at local levels, and from the ground. Any other means of influencing the government at mid or high levels must be via the tool we know - democracy. Losing faith in our elected representatives is one thing, entrusting governance work (whether by way of direct action, or influencing) to extra constitutional bodies is, simply put - a risk. May work well, may not work well, time will be the judge.

kbsyed61's picture

First government should do its job......

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SB,

 I can't agree with you more on this. The very reason BATF, City connect came into existance is the unresponsiveness and mindless ness of the governments/departments. Even if the govt had done its job reasonably OK, we wouldn't be discussing these on Praja or other forums. Looks like government/politicians are now cashing on the goldmine of free goodwill/Publicity by having such meetings. Basically they are trying to cash on their inefficiencies and misgovernance. Is it a profitable venture for citizens to spend hours and days discussing, networking and convincing govt. babus to do thier job on time? To me we are wasting Nation's precious time and efforts. These efforts should have been invested in more research and nation building. Instead we are forced to discuss, argue and some time even name calling. All these for somebody who did not do his job or did it right or didn't do it on time?

 If public participation is required, it should be only after we have system, process and regulation in place. Otherwise it would be like another BIAL saga. Greenfield airports came up, but no airport regulatory authority in place. Government became partners as the "Public" entity, but without any real public participation.

 Instead of all these Tamashas, government will do the public a favor, if it just ensures that all the pending works are finished in next 9-12 months. All the pending works are ventures started by government not by any public entity. Public forums can do their job by being wathchfull and giving the needed suggestions and help. 

Syed 

murali772's picture

what stake do these stake-holders have?

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One significant drop out from the list of 'stake-holders' (I have never quite understood how they qualify to be called that) compared to the BATF days is Bangalore Telephones. Actually, even during the course of the 5 years of BATF's existence (SMK's govt's existence), Airtel, Reliance, Spice (or whatever their then avatars were) etc had come on the scene, particularly with the mobile revolution, and thereafter nobody bothered whether Bangalore Telephones existed or not. When their representative came forward to make his presentation at the BATF conclaves, it was generally time for every one to go to the toilet. As compared to that, during the first few conclaves, the presentations were listened to with great attention, specifically the progress of the wait-lists in each area/ zone.

The same thing can happen to BMTC and BESCOM by the opening out the respective sectors to reputed Corporates. The entry of private players in Telecom provided a great boost to the economy. Their entry into the other services will straightaway take the country to double digit growth. For more, read

http://praja.in/bangalore...
http://praja.in/bangalore...

Unfortunately, nobody brought this up at the ABIDE. The 'infrastructure conclave', which I attended (Pranav went to the governance conclave) was too packed, and even with repeated attempts, I didn't get an opportunity to raise the issue. Well, they are not getting away, of course!

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao
silkboard's picture

Kasturirangan report - no progress?

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We haven't heard anything on KR report recently, wonder whats up? Creation of ABIDe like body is perhaps a good short term step, but institutionalizing involvement of locals and experts in urban governance will be a welcome step.

BBMP's local elections are delayed as well. I don't think these are simple delays due to government's laziness, I suspect some thinking is on behind the scenes to either re-organize BBMP's wards and boundaries, or to fine tune recommendations of KAsturi Rangan committe's report.

But, as this isn't something that will make any newspaper sell (talks of committes and councils are so boring, isn't it), we will probably not get timely updates on what Yeddy's govt is doing with regards to KR Report.

Let us wait, and hope to hear something soon.

Naveen's picture

Governance at a Loss

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BATF, BTRAC, & now ABIDE !

Would any of these have been necessary if the govt is doing what it was appointed to do ?

As a caricature, these acronyms imply that the govt is not up to the task, & therefore, the proliferation of these various so called "initiatives" to "tackle" the "problems".

A simple initiative - the long overdue recognition that co-ordination between the various governmental agencies for effective functioning & a solution for that, such as what has been recommended by the kasturirangan committee - is still not being implemented - one wonders what the delay is for.

Thank heavens a BMLTA has been appointed, though it may not necessarily be dictating policy to other bodies, yet.

idontspam's picture

BMLTA has no teeth

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It doesnt even have false teeth. It lives on hope. Basics of governance is not in place. Watch while some African countries start overtaking us soon on quality of life.
silkboard's picture

Mr Rajeev Chandrashekhar + Yeddy on planning

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Source: TOI, 'Integration is the key'

A progress report of the task force - recently presented by convener and Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar to chief minister B S Yeddyurappa - highlights the need to ensure comprehensive planning for Bangalore Metropolitan Region (BMR) as against planning taken up by individual agencies.

Sir, please. Some progress on strengthening local government structure. Elections for BBMP, more power and accountability for them. Some quality debates and action on Kasturi Rangan committee report. Please resists the temptation to do it yourself and may be even do a good job in the short run. If I may suggest, work on building the institutions, and not on filling the gaps yourself on short term basis.

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