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Bangalore Metropolitan Committee draft rules

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The draft of the Bangalore Metropolitan Committee rules dt 7th Nov, 2013 is accessible here.

The GoK has allowed just 15 days (ie upto 22nd Nov) for objections/ suggestions. While I'll be sending out a formal request from Praja-RAAG asking for more time for the citizens to respond, perhaps we can all start our debates on the same here.

The subject is not new to Bangalore. A quick search using "Bangalore Metropolitan Committee" showed up quite a few past debates, starting with this, way back in July '07. And, there are a lot more.

Well, happy debating.

Muralidhar Rao

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response from CIVIC

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The following is the text of the draft letter proposed to be sent by Ms Kathyayini Chamaraj, Executive Trustee, CIVIC (based on inputs from prominent citizens like Prem Chandravarkar, Vijayan Menon, Ashwin Mahesh, and others) to the Principal Secretary, Urban Development
Govt. of Karnataka, Vikasa Soudha, Dr. Ambedkar Veedhi, Bangalore 560001


Dear Sir,

Subject:  Our comments on the Draft Rules for setting up a Metropolitan Planning Committee for Bangalore – No. UDD 356 MNJ 2005(P) dated 7.11.2013   

We are happy that at least 20 years after the passage of the 74th Constitutional  Amendment, the government has decided to draft Rules for setting up a Metropolitan Planning Committee for Bangalore and end the long-standing violation of the Constitution.  Our comments on the draft Rules are as follows:                   
 
Rules should be applicable to any metropolitan city:   First of all, we do not understand why the Rules are being framed only for Bangalore as there are many other cities in Karnataka which may have or are fast approaching the population mark of 10 lakhs and will require MPCs to be set up.  

Recommendation:  The Rules need to be general, to apply to any city which crosses the 10 lakh population limit.
 
No notification under Section 4(1)(c) and (d) of the RTI Act:  We wish to point out that no prior public intimation of the intention of the government to draft the said Rules was done as per Section 4(1)(c) and (d) of the RTI Act, 2005. So citizens have been caught unawares as no opportunity has been given for public consultation and receiving of suggestions while formulating the draft Rules, which is a violation of Section 4(1)(c) of the RTI Act.  

Recommendation:  We request you to extend the time for receiving feedback to make amends for this lapse.

Non-adherence to the spirit of the 74th Constitutional Amendment (CA) :  The current draft bill seems to have only 2 functions – (i)  comply with the High Court  order in letter but not  in substance and  (ii)  maintain status quo on the current situation of  state government control over (a) the planning of Bangalore and (b)  state government  control over the parastatals that are currently doing independent sectoral planning  for Bangalore,  especially  the BDA .

The opening lines of the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ of the 74th Amendment make it clear that the  intent of the Amendment is to empower local urban bodies to function as “vibrant democratic units of self-government”, and the reason why this has not happened is that there has been undue interference from the State Governments.  These draft rules too fail at this fundamental level for the same reasons.

Recommendation:  In order to implement the spirit of the 74th CA it is necessary to grant the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) a level of autonomy that will allow the planning of Bengaluru to be implemented by a “vibrant democratic unit of self-government”.  

Not defining "metropolitan area":  It is indeed strange that the very definition of the area that is to be covered by the MPC has not been defined and that it has been stated that the MPC will be non-functional until this area is defined.   But no time-frame has been specified within which this area will be defined to let the MPC start functioning.  A time-frame within which the MPC will be constituted is also missing.  Is this a means of pulling the wool over the High Court’s eyes as the Rules for the MPC have been drafted as per the Court’s directive but the actual functioning of the MPC can now be kept in limbo by not defining the metropolitan area for an indefinite length of time?    

Recommendation:  We insist that the ‘metropolitan area’ should be defined while issuing the final Rules in the gazette,  that the metropolitan area should include both Bangalore (Urban) and Bangalore (Rural) districts and that a time-frame should be set within which the MPC will be set up.

Two-thirds membership to elected representatives:  There need to be 19 elected members and not 18 from the urban local bodies if the 74th Amendment stipulation  that “not less than two-thirds of the members of such Committee shall be elected by, and from amongst, the elected members of the Municipalities and Chairpersons of the Panchayats in the Metropolitan area. Secondly, the stipulation that the elected members shall be in proportion to the ratio between the population of the municipalities and panchayats in the area has not been included.  In these respects, the draft rules to not conform to the 74th Amendment.

BBMP Mayor and Commissioner are not members - CM and UD Minister are members:  It is strange that the Mayor of Bangalore, who represents the largest and most important area of the Bangalore Metropolitan Area, and the BBMP Commissioner are not automatic members of the MPC.  Instead, the Chief Minister and the Minister for Urban Development are included as members of the MPC.  The 74th CA says that the plan of the MPC shall be handed over to the CM.  So here we have a situation where the CM, as member of MPC, will be handing over the plan to himself!  If the BBMP Mayor wants to be on the MPC, he has to stand for election to the MPC along with the others!  But the BBMP Commissioner can have no say at all in the MPC!  

This clearly indicates that the intention is not to devolve planning powers to the representatives of the local bodies but to retain them with the State government.   If we are to facilitate the autonomy of local government as intended by the 74th Amendment, it goes against its spirit to include two of the most powerful members of the State Government within the MPC and exclude the two most important members of the local bodies in the metropolitan area.    
Recommendation:  We insist that the BBMP Mayor and Commissioner should be automatically members of the MPC and the CM and UD minister should not be members.   

Chairperson not specified:  It is also strange that the post of Chairperson of the MPC has been left to the committee to decide.  In a committee which has the CM as the member, will anyone else agree to don the role of chairperson?  It appears that this has been deliberately left undecided to mask the fact that the state government is being given the handles of power in the Committee.

Recommendation: A chairperson, other than the CM,  should be specified at the time of finalizing the Rules to avoid confusion and conflicts later.  

Should MLAs and MLCs be members and have voting powers?   It needs to be recalled that the 74th CA does not say that MLAs and MLCs should be members of the MPC.  It is an arrangement chosen by the Karnataka government in its conformity legislation to the 74th CA (KMC Amdt. Act) which actually allows the state government to have a role in the affairs of local self-governments which is against the spirit of the 74th CA. Considering also that members of local bodies will be overawed in the presence of MLAs and MLCs and be unable to voice their real feelings and opinions in their presence, it needs to be considered whether the CM, UD Minister and MLAs and MLCs should be on the MPC at all.  

But given their membership on the MPC as per the current KMC Act, the draft Rules on MPC gives MLAs and MLCs the status of Permanent Invitees.  But their role as Permanent Invitees needs to be clarified.  Do they have voting rights?  Are they just observers or are they allowed to participate in the deliberations of the MPC?  MLAs of BBMP area alone are 28 and if they are given voting rights, they can out-vote the 18 elected representatives of the urban local bodies who are on the MPC.   

Recommendation: We recommend that an amendment be brought to the KMC Act to remove the presence of CM, UD Minister, MLAs and MLCs on the MPC.  But if MLAs and MLCs are continued as Permanent Invitees, they should not be given voting rights.

No representation to civil society:  The MPC has elected representatives and officials and just two non-official experts in town planning as special invitees.  There is no representation to the real stakeholders of the metropolitan area, the citizens and their associations.  There is only a fleeting reference to “consult NGOs and other professional bodies” in preparing the draft development plan.  It is not mentioned which are the stakeholders to be consulted, except for the Chamber of Commerce and Town planners.  The BMRDA , for instance, has four members appointed by the Government representing labour,  women and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.  The BDA too has  similar representation on its Board for SC/ST, etc.

Recommendation: Rather than individuals representing the disadvantaged as in BMRDA and BDA, the associations of farmers, trade unions and traders’ unions, small-scale industries, unorganised workers’ unions, slum-dwellers’ federations, federations of RWAs, federations of women’s SHGs, federations of NGOs,  children’s rights groups,  SC/ST associations, and other stakeholders in the metropolitan area need to be represented on the MPC and given a voice in the decision-making body, by increasing the number of members if need be.

Or mandatory consultations should be held by the MPC with each of these groups while preparing its sectoral plans.  But it is necessary to list the groups with whom consultations should be held in the Rules itself so that they are not left out by default.

Absence of  necessary officials:  Though the Draft Rules include most of the 18  subjects in the 12th Schedule among the functions of the MPC, the concerned officials dealing with these subjects are not members of the MPC.  Only officials heading  BWSSB and BESCOM are represented on the MPC, while there are no officials representing the housing department, slum board, transport, trade and commerce, employment, etc.  All these officials and more are however members of the BMRDA.  While the Mayor of Bangalore finds no place on the MPC, he is a member of the BMRDA!

Recommendation:  All officials necessary for planning for the expanded role of local bodies to bring about “economic development and social justice” should be ex-officio members of the MPC.

Matters the MPC is to have regard to when formulating plans- Rule 9(2)(a):   There has been a tendency in Indian cities to formulate plans that are directed primarily at the interests of elite minorities of the city, and the needs of the less privileged segments of the population are not considered.  To counter this, in defining what the MPC should have regard to when formulating plans, it should be stipulated that the plan should seek to be as inclusive as possible, and attempt to consider the population of the entire city.  

Planning by the MPC should not be not just spatial planning but also developmental and sectoral planning.  The Twelfth Schedule of the 74th Amendment has listed 18 functions for urban local bodies.  The MPC needs to prepare plans for all these sectors.   These include water supply, public health, sanitation, solid waste management, safeguarding the interests of the weaker sections, slum improvement and upgradation, urban poverty alleviation, etc.

Recommendation:  The plan prepared by the MPC should spell out what the MPC is going to do in terms of performance targets and outcomes for all the 18 functions listed in the 12th Schedule of the 74th CA, how it is going to do it, the cost for implementing the plans, how the resources will be raised and what is the monitoring and evaluation system.  

Constitution of Sub-Committee (Rule 8): The freedom to constitute sub-committees, which may not even include members of the MPC, is tantamount to an invitation to hand over control of key functions to friends or influential persons belonging to elite sections.  Such tendency has been amply demonstrated earlier by the setting up of elite committees.  To ensure the sub-committees’ proper relationship to the MPC, it should be made necessary that more than half the members of the sub-committee should be members of the MPC, and if non-members of the MPC are nominated to a sub-committee it should be solely because that person/organization  possesses a demonstrated track record of expertise that is relevant to the purpose of the sub-committee.

Recommendation:  In order to ensure that the expanded roles of the third tier of governance as spelt out in the 12th Schedule of the 74th CA are taken into account, the following Sectoral Committees need to be constituted under the MPC to draw up sectoral plans:

o Land-use planning
o Water, sewerage and sanitation
o Health, education and Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD)
o Urban poverty alleviation & housing
o Economic development, livelihood, skill training and social security
o Power, roads and transport, railways
o Environment, wetlands & parks

Sectoral experts and NGOs and CSOs having expertise and experience in the individual sectors could also be made part of the sectoral committees.

Role of BMRDA:    The BMRDA was supposed to be abolished once the MPC was set up as per the KMC (Amdt.) Act.  But an amendment has been made to the KMC Act continuing the existence of BMRDA.  The Kasturirangan Committee on Bangalore Region Governance had recommended that the area comprising Bangalore (Urban), Bangalore (Rural) and Ramanagaram districts should come under the MPC and the BMRDA should be the secretariat of the MPC.  Since the government has decided to make the BDA the secretariat of the MPC, it is probably thinking that the BMRDA region comprising three districts is too unwieldy and that the Metropolitan Area to be covered by the MPC should be smaller, which may be a good thing.

But the Draft Rules say that the MPC will send its Plan to the BMRDA which will approve it  and forward to the government.  The BMRDA also has powers to direct all planning  and development authorities within the metropolitan region making it  a super-bureaucracy accountable to the state government.  

Debatable point:  Then what of the autonomy of the MPC to make its own plans?  Moreover, the CM is the Chairperson of the BMRDA.  So while playing his role as chairperson of BMRDA,  will he ‘disapprove’ the plans made by himself  as the member or  chairperson of the MPC?    

Finances:  There needs to be a MPC fund into which all the Central and State government allocations are deposited as existing for the BMRDA.  Merely planning without an assurance of the fund availability will lead to castles being built in the air.  Planning without assured finances has resulted in the plans remaining on paper in the Kolkata MPC.  The MPC should also know the extent of finances available with the service and development agencies for which it is planning.

Recommendation:  Planning has to be realistic, based on the actual availability of assured funds to avoid plans remaining on paper.

Status quo regarding parastatals:  The Rules accept the status quo of the continued existence of parastatal organisations, namely Bangalore Development Authority, Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, and Bangalore Electricity Supply Company, etc., as organs accountable to the State government and not the local bodies.  Officers drawn from the state administrative service run these organisations, report to the state government, state government controls the funding of these organisations, and they are outside the control of local government.  Without making these changes on the effective control over these organizations, the MPC is reduced to a figurehead.  

Recommendation:  The parastatal organisations should be brought under the control of local government, which will also include a transfer of the funds for these agencies to local government.  They should also follow the plan developed by the MPC

Bottom-up planning: For effective local governance, decentralisation at multiple levels is needed.  The 74th Amendment recognises the levels of Metropolitan Planning Committee, Municipality, and Ward Committee.  Since then, recognition has been granted to a further level of decentralisation – the Area Sabha.  If the relationship between these levels is not articulated, then the intent of the 74th Amendment will not be served.  

Recommendation:  The rules should require that the plans formulated by the MPC should be based on maximizing the extent of possible decentralisation, and all levels below the MPC should be empowered to the maximum extent possible.  The rules should also stipulate the way in which the different levels communicate with each other, and are required to give consideration to any submissions of lower and higher levels.

Transparency requirements:  The conditions of transparency stipulated in the rules are inadequate.  The requirement stipulated is that a notice only needs to be displayed in one local newspaper, and there is not stipulation on how prominent this notice should be, so it is possible to publish a notice that can get lost in the fine print.  Given that the goal should be to attract the attention of the public, the stipulation on any announcement on plans should include:

Display of notice in as many newspapers as possible in both local and English languag and the notice should be such that it is visually prominent to anyone reading the newspaper.
Display of notice at all Bangalore One centres.
Display on the home page of the MPC and all urban local body websites.
Display on the notice board of all Ward Committee offices

In addition to this, the draft development plans plus the record of all deliberations of the MPC should be accessible on the MPC website, and should be available in both Kannada and English.  

The plans for the Planning Districts should be displayed at the ward offices situated within the concerned planning districts to elicit suggestions from the local community and should also be made available for discussion to the ward committees and the Area Sabhas

Hoping you will take our recommendations into consideration while issuing the final Rules.

Yours sincerely,

Kathyayini Chamaraj
Executive Trustee
97318 17177

Muralidhar Rao
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comments by Sri T R Raghunandan

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Comments on the draft rules by Sri T R Raghunandan, Advisor, Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, Dharam Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, may be accessed here.
 

Muralidhar Rao
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Metropolitan Planning Area yet to be defined

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Reproduced below (courtesy Sri C N Kumar) is an extract of the affadivit, dated 13 Sep 2013, filed by the Government at the last hearing on 19 Sep 2013:

"I further submit in the meanwhile the Metropolitan Planning Area has to be defined for which the assent of His excellency the Governor is necessary. The above said process would take some more time."

Muralidhar Rao
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Text of the letter sent by Sri C N Kumar

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Your department has published the draft rules for the Constitution of the Metropolitan Planning Committee for the Bangalore Metropolitan Region inviting objections or suggestions. Please find below my submissions after a detailed study:

1) The draft Rules have not been given adequate publicity in the Press and Media. Even till date the notification does not appear in your department?s website. I therefore request you to give wide publicity in the media including publishing on your department?s website and extend the date for receiving suggestions by 30 days.

2) Sec 4(1) c of RTI Act requires you to publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public. This has not been done in this case.

3) The Metropolitan Planning Area has not been defined still. It should include Bangalore Urban and Rural Districts.

4) There must be sub dividing of seats in the urban quota for representatives of Municipalities other than the BBMP falling within the MPC area. Otherwise it will be dominated by BBMP corporators only.

5) As far as rural representatives are concerned only Chairpersons of Panchayats should be allowed and Dy Chairperson cannot be allowed as per provisions of Article 243ZE (2) (b) of Constitution.

6) Chief Minister and Urban Development Minister should not nominated as members of MPC because Article 243ZE (4) of the Constitution requires that the Chairperson of the MPC shall forward the development plan, as recommended by such Committee, to the Government of the State. In this case if the Chairperson is CM and UDD Minister a Member then they will be forwarding what they have decided to themselves. There is conflict of interest in this case.

7) There very limited representation to the Government of India nominees, experts in town planning, or representatives of the public and civil society.

8) There is no representation given for Fire Department, Traffic Department, Police Department, BMRCL, Indian Railways, BMTC who will need to give input for proper planning. On other had double representation is given to BDA since Commissioner and Chairman are nominated Members. BDA should have only one nominated person.

9) There is no representation given for Army, Navy and Airforce.

10) BBMP Commissioner is not given representation.

11) There is no provision in Article 243ZE of the Constitution for the nomination of invitees to the MPC. Hence inviting MLA?s and MLC?s will be ultra vires the Constitution. They can be provided quota in MPC and such positions can be filled by election.

12) For accommodating above suggested members the number of people in MPC can be increased above 30.

13) It is not clarified in the Rules as to who will be the Member Secretary of MPC.

Kindly consider above objections and suggestions before finalising the Rules. Please call for personal hearing in the matter.

Yours faithfully, CNK

Muralidhar Rao
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Makes very interesting

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Makes very interesting reading, how we are ruled by incompetent people making a mockery of governance.



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