A new exclusive BBMP Bill has been drafted by the State government. A few joyful points for CIVIC in the proposed new BBMP Bill are that some of the suggestions made by CIVIC to the BBMP Restructuring Committee (B.S. Patil Committee) are reflected in the Bill, albeit not in full form. CIVIC had recommended a 3-tier structure for greater decentralisation of BBMP with a Greater Bengaluru Authority at the apex level, 11 Zonal Councils at the intermediate level and Ward Committees with Area Sabhas at the ground level. Our prescription avoided splitting of BBMP into separate corporations as recommended by the B.S. Patil Committee. We are happy that the idea of Zonal Committees has been introduced in the Bill with a maximum number of 15 Zones which is close to what we had suggested. The Zonal Committees will have all the councillors representing the wards in the Zone as members. This will allow all of them to raise concerns regarding their wards at the Zonal Committee meeting as the number of wards in each zone may be around 15 only. Currently, only a few councillors are able to raise issues during the BBMP Council meetings as there are 198 councillors attending the meetings. However, while CIVIC had suggested that one of the councillors should be chosen as the Chairperson of the Zonal Council, the BBMP Bill makes the Zonal Commissioner the chairperson of the Zonal Committee. This is a questionable provision.
The second suggestion of CIVIC which has found acceptance is that the Area Sabha Representatives should be members of the Ward Committee. But the BBMP Bill does not give them voting rights on Ward Committee decisions. This too is a questionable provision.
However, the Bill was placed before the Legislative Assembly during the last session without any pre-legislative consultation with stakeholders on it. This is violative of Section 4(1)(c) and (d) of the Right to Information Act which require proactive disclosure ‘while’ framing a new law, policy, etc., along with the rationale for the proposed move. Luckily, the Bill was not passed due to opposition from the Opposition parties for the lack of prior consultation on it. As per the Opposition’s demand, the Bill has been sent to a Joint Select Committee with members from all parties on it. Hopefully, the Committee will hold consultations with all stakeholders on the Bill.