When we have loads of problems to deal with, it’s not uncommon to put off dealing with the issues. If you want to really fix the problem, then you needn’t wait for somebody to give you a push. This has been the mantra of the newly formed ward committees in Bengaluru.
Instead of lodging complaints with the civic authorities, following up with them, and waiting for a few days, to see if their efforts yield results, these committees have taken things in their hands. They are solving their own problems and they are doing it well. They have shown that citizens can fruitfully engage in solving civic problems. Despite certain organizational issues, some wards have gone ahead and formed ward committees, held meetings and achieved positive results.
Ward committees are a key guarantee of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 and the Nagarapalika Act, 1992 that necessitates these committees to involve local residents to be a part of the larger civic governance system, aimed at making democracy truly work for the people. The newly formed Hagadur ward committee is one great example of a ward committee achieving success. It has not only reclaimed four acres of government land in Ramagondanahalli and fenced it, the residents have also found an alternative road to International Tech Park Bangalore. A 40-ft road is now coming up to ease traffic from the village route. This shows that citizens can also conceptualize solutions and play the role of change agents to solve civic problems. The committee has also drawn up plans for the future, including reclaiming all encroached government lands in the ward, and growing plantations across their boundaries. The availability of new technologies is helping bridge the distance between government agencies and the citizens they serve.
The government working with the citizens — who are often closest to and possess unique knowledge about the problems they face — makes a lot of sense. This could be a game changer, given the increasing complexity of the problems that need to be addressed.