Bulging Greater B'lore may contradict Constitution
Deccan Herald

The State Cabinet has recently favoured the merger of Bangalore Mahanagara
Palike and its surrounding local bodies into one entity as - Greater
Bangalore, though options like formation of two or three different
corporations of the local bodies concerned were also available.

Going by the Cabinet's leaning, the area and population of the envisaged
entity would be in the order of 696 sq km with 65 lakh plus population.

But these factors concerning GB may end up contradicting the Constitutional
provisions on decentralisation.


The Administrative Reforms Commission headed by Mr M Veerappa Moily,
recently held a two-day closed-door discussion on 'Urban Reforms' at IIM,
Bangalore. As per a copy of the draft discussion report, the commission has
already taken note of the lack of progress in urban decentralisation.

On structural changes, the report speaks of examining the existing structure
of urban civic bodies and analysing "the need for splitting large municipal
corporations into smaller outfits." The report notes that "Leadership is
sorely lacking in urban decentralisation".

It is noted that the representation ratio between the citizens and their
elected representatives in rural and urban Karnataka is 10 times wider:
rural - 380:1, urban: 3,400:1 The Bangalore specific ratio is 42,000
citizens: 1 elected representative.

"One possible interpretation of this could be that the government is more
than 100 times further away for the resident of Bangalore than the average
rural dweller," says the report.

Furthering the gap

Speaking on the issue, revenue experts in the BMP note that the ratio of the
citizens: elected representatives will only increase further, if one goes by
the State government's intentions on GB.

Under GB as one entity (measuring 696 sq kms) - the government is looking at
forming 150 wards as against the present 100 wards in the 226 sq km BMP
limits. At the rate of 65 lakh-odd combined population (of BMP and the
incoming local bodies), the 150 wards will account for about 50,000 plus
population in each ward, note the revenue experts. The citizen:elected
representative ratio as per the 2001 census will therefore be 50,000: 1.

Mandatory

Meanwhile, the complete implementation of the provisions of the 74th
Constitutional Amendment (aimed at decentralising the powers and functions
to Urban Local bodies), is one of the mandatory reforms expected of the
State governments of cities slotted for urban renewal under the
Centrally-funded Jawaharlal Nehru-National Urban Renewal Mission.

It is about 10 months since JNNURM was launched. Programme cities are
expected to submit a City Development Plan (a 10 to15 year vision for the
city) to the Centre. Bangalore's CDP is yet to be submitted.

Queried whether the Centre's funds come first or the reforms - BMP
Commissioner K Jairaj noted - "Reforms of course!".

Another IAS officer (of the Karnataka cadre), now serving in a Central
ministry noted thus: "It is a question of who blinks first."

Urban Karnataka

Population 1.7 crores

Level No. of units No. of Reps

City Corporations 6 410

City Municipal Councils 40 1,308

Town Municipal Councils 81 1,919

Town Panchayats 89 1,373

Total No. of Elected Reps 5,023

Citizen: Elected Reps Ratio 3,400:1

* Rural Karnataka - Citizen: Elected Reps Ratio is 380:1