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About Media watching MUDA meetings

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Sharing a copy of the letter sent to MUDA members regarding allowing media to watch MUDA meetings.

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MUDA/PS/2009-10        Date:02-11-2009

Respected Member of MUDA,

Warm Greetings to you!

I am writing this letter regarding allowing media to watch the deliberations and decisions taken in the MUDA meetings.  Also, during my earlier tenure as Chairman, MUDA, I had written to the members seeking their opinion. As this did not meet its logical conclusion then, I am again writing to you. This issue is now assuming significance in the backdrop of the following:

  1. The credibility of MUDA is being constantly questioned in different forums and media ( Refer to the numerous articles damning the functioning of MUDA).
  2. Articles questioning that ‘why MUDA is not allowing media in the deliberations’ and the reasoning in this regard.
  3. The increasing demand from the public in the recent times that public institutions function in a transparent manner.

I have discussed the issue many a times with the Hon’ble Members during my earlier tenure and current tenure also. To this, some of the members are opposed to allowing the media to witness the proceedings on the following grounds:

  1. MUDA meetings are equivalent to the meetings of the Cabinet of the Government and when the media is not allowed for the cabinet meetings and in a similar manner, media need not be allowed for the MUDA meetings.
  2. If the media is allowed inside the hall, it will disturb the deliberations and decisions owing to the presence of 30-40 persons from media.
  3. There is no provision in the law which mandates MUDA to conduct meetings openly in the presence of the media.


I have gone through the objections of the members in detail, taken advice from eminent lawyers and I would like to answer queries as below:

1.    The first objection that MUDA meetings are akin to Cabinet meetings cannot be accepted completely. The Cabinet of the Government is the highest decision making authority and it takes decisions on behalf of the whole State, touching the lives of approximately six crores and also deals issues with the Government of India. The Cabinet meetings also deal with issues concerning internal security, external security, which cannot be discussed openly.  Whereas, MUDA being a local body, created by an Act of the State, cannot be compared with the Cabinet of the State.

Section 14 of the Karnataka Urban Development Authority Act says: “the objective of the Authority shall be planning, promoting and securing development of the Urban Area”.

Thus, it is very clear that this Authority has three objectives:

1) Planning for the Development of the Mysore Urban Region;
2) Promoting Development of the Mysore Urban Region &
3) Securing the Development of the Mysore Urban Region.

I am of the humble opinion that in the background of the above objectives, MUDA does not deal with internal security of the State or issues concerning the entire State and only encompasses the planning, promoting and securing the development of the city. Thus, to compare MUDA meetings to the Cabinet meeting will be taking things too far and cannot be sustained.

 

2.    The second objection can be easily solved by allowing the media to sit in another room and transmitting the proceedings on line audio-visually, for which arrangements have already been made. This will ensure that the deliberations and decisions will neither gets disturbed nor distracted.

 

3      It is a fact that there is no express provision in the Act mandating permission of media for the MUDA meetings. At the same time, it should be noted there is no express provision in the Act prohibiting conducting meetings openly. In such a situation, the authority to decide whether or not to allow the media for the meetings rests solely with the MUDA Board and with the Chairman of the meeting. Of course, Chairman needs to consult the members and hence my earlier letter and this letter. The Act was made in the year 1987 when the Right to Information Act was not there. With the enactment of RTI later, and the Public Disclosure Act in the anvil, the need for conducting the meetings openly has to be addressed in the right spirit.  However, if members feel that some deliberations are of the nature, which should be kept out of the media, this can always be done by switching off the audio-visual transmission. In this background, I feel that we are not doing justice by conducting the meeting in-camera.

MUDA meeting deliberations are expected to be for the public good in both short term and long term. If this is the situation, where is the necessity for keeping the discussions or deliberations done in the public interest to be kept away from the public. The citizens not only have a right to know about the decisions taken, but also have a right to know the deliberations that happens in the MUDA Board Meetings.

When deliberations revolve around the development of Mysore, I do not find any reason that the deliberations cannot be open to the public. Thus, I am convinced that the balance of convenience lies in conducting the meeting in open.

In this background, I seek the opinion and concurrence of the Hon’ble Members for allowing the media to witness the deliberations of the meeting through audio-video facility from the next meeting onwards. I am sure this action of transparency will bring credibility to MUDA and will go a long way in ensuring that the discussions and deliberations happen strictly in public interest.

I look forward to receive your opinion as early as possible, at least in the next seven days or at least a day before the next meeting. If no reply is received, it will be assumed that you have no objection to the proposal of permitting the MUDA deliberations to the media and this will be taken as your consent for this good cause.

Thanking you and with regards,

Yours sincerely,

(Manivannan.P)

Comments

idontspam's picture

Can you move to Bangalore?

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We need more people like you in the administration here.

kbsyed61's picture

I second your decision!

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Mr. Manivannan,

Even though I am not an official member of MUDA, but as an ordinary citizen I second your thoughts and decision to open the MUDA meetings to media and public.

You have rightly said anything which needs privacy can always be accommodated with conducting the meetings in private. Even the things in past which were considered to be non-public nature are being reclassified for public viewing. Take the example of district Collector in TN publishing his personnel assets on Internet feeling that he is making it easy under RTI act. Some of our veteran officials feel that he is violating the official secrecy. But that is little far fetched in this case.

Once again I congratulate you for the good beginning you are embarking upon.

Regards,

Syed

 

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

Weldone Mani Sir,

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- Way to go - ensures transparency and accountability and also may inculcate a semblance of behavioural science in the minds of some members who have a tendency to become more than vociferous and menacing.  If they are exposed to such open meetings that too while the media is present, then it is bound to result in some decent, meaningful and fruitful deliberations with an amount of credibility.

IDS Sir,

-  there is already a standing instruction from us, Mysoreans, not to disturb Mr.Manivannan for a few more years till certain important projects find logical conclusions and people can touch and feel the tangible results of his sound administrative concerns.  When he has to be shifted due to exigencies of service conditions, you may personally take him to Bengaluru.

- Vasanth Mysoremath, Heritage City of Mysooru

silkboard's picture

Now, if only ...

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We could have video feeds from all MUDA and MCC and Tahsil office cameras available on websites like Praja :)

We would then have n number of Mysoreans sitting at home, watching everything live and documenting their takes on the meeting. All talk would happen around what citizens would directly see, and not around the versions that select journalists may produce conforming to styles of their media houses.

People under-rate Internet today, 'elite' medium and what not. Sort of like 12 Rs per minute on cell phones back in late 90s. How is 1p per second now!? Just you wait and watch as this best ever, cheap, democratic, and equalizing mass-medium spreads its wings. May be 5-6 years more, and not much longer.

We will be there.

rs's picture

Mysore

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i was in  Mysore last weekend and was pleasantly shocked by how nice it is. For example, one can actually walk really easily and comfortably on Devraja Urs road. The footpaths on both sides are mwide and uncluttered - no encroachments. The road is one way so its easier to cross and park - and traffic moves smoothly. There is not a single street in Bangalore that is comparable. MUDA has done a wonderful job there.

What would be really nice if MUDA could close up some of the smaller side streets to traffic and allow only pedestrian traffic. It would make the whole experience infinitely more pleasant and in fact that was the way it was orginally intended to be.

Another suggestion would be for the development of bike paths along many roads. Most roads have ample space on the sides to develop a nice bike path and footpath - thereby stopping the city from going in the direction of Bangalore. Otherwise I fear that in a couple of years the road widening disease will spread southward.

Ramesh

rs's picture

I suppose its also

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I suppose its also appropriate to quote from a media report on the former mayor  of  Bogota,  who transformed the city, and who was visiting Chennai recently - he said that the measure of how developed a country is is not the highways and fyovers, but the footpaths. I only wish our signal free maniacs in Bangalore were listening. 

 

Ramesh 

Vasanthkumar Mysoremath's picture

But shop owners occupy most parking space 14/7

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@rs

Yes; Mysore is still virgin in some parts.  But Devaraj Urs Road has its problems too like it was once upon a time on MG Road and Brigades.

- Majority of the parking space is occupied by cars of owners of shops located on this shopping mall for more than 14 hours on all working days.  Shoppers with vehicles will have to go round and round like it was on Briagade road before parking meters were installed in collaboration with Shoppers Association.  

- But the question that arises is, where will they park their cars?  This is their problem - they can't afford to occupy public places for such long duration just because they own shops - they do not own that much of space meant for public usage.

- secondly, many buildings have cellar floors that were sanctioned for parking vehicles but have been converted into shops - this is totally illegal.  A semblance of action appears to be around with issue of notices to shop owners by the district administration but we will have to wait and watch for the results. 

- Solution: Shop owners must stop redundancy in using cars just to arrive and open the shop, sit and wait for customers.  Use public transport or take autos - they can afford and also they can have more customers, who will not be interested in parking their vehicles for more than an hour or two, shop and go.

- Alternatively, fix parking meters like on Brigade road and make some money for MCC.

- Vasanth Mysoremath, Heritage city of Mysore.    

 

Naveen's picture

Democracy (Not) Coming of Age ?

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Greetings Mr Manivannan,

Extremely pleased to read your letter addressed to MUDA members. I strongly agree & fully support your initiatives. Vintage mindsets need to be discarded & biases favoring secrecy where none is required need to be removed. This will result in more accountability & professionalism in the conduct of proceedings of MUDA.

I wish we had similar initiatives from corporators in bangalore since it is becoming more & more of a necessity here. It has been obvious from a long time that due processes were not being followed & the more 'convenient' solutions were being pursued, purely to please pro-growth forces, neglecting all else.

Now, it is dismaying to note that huge projects involving very large capital (22,000 crores) are being taken up, senselessly & without public involvement, nor consultation.

I think bangalore is going backwards, & is reminiscent of america a hundred years ago when they had just started mass production of motor cars !

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