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Hubballi: Residents of the twin cities have been demanding greater participation in local governance, and have been urging the Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC) to constitute ward committees to ensure citizens have a say in issues concerning them every day. However, the initiative appears to be stuck in gestation.
Janaagraha, a non-profit organisation, is now working towards turning this into a reality. Having been successful in increasing citizens’ participation in local governance in Bengaluru, the organisation has turned its attention to the smaller towns and cities of the state, Hubballi-Dharwad being rather high of its priority list. The organisation will help proactive citizens get their voice heard when it comes to local administration.
Santosh Nargund, former Scientist, and social activist, who has been appointed by Janaagraha as the Program Lead-Civic Participation initiative in Karnataka “The organisation is planning on launching a series of programmes to help push citizens’ participation in local governance,” said Santosh, citing the provisions of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, which mandates the participation of residents.
The failure on the part of the HDMC to constitute ward committees has been widely criticised by the residents of the twin cities. Santosh pointed out that Janaagraha was keen on educating people about the role ward committees could essay in effecting transformation of urban spaces. “We are choosing cities based on the level of involvement of the residents in local issues, the extent to which they engage with problems and the level of participation of the residents’ welfare associations. We are using our network of people, in addition to leveraging social media sites to reach out to as many people as possible,” he said.
Santosh said that a ‘City Lead’ would be appointed to monitor citizen involvement. Among the areas that Janaagraha is keen on is the involvement of citizens in the decision-making process for the civic budget. “Citizens will be imparted comprehensive training, and they will be guided by experts to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles too. We will also adopt five wards, where the people will be empowered, and help turn them into model localities,” he added.
He added that surveys would be conducted in each ward to assess the quality of life, which would then be compiled in a report. “We will also convince the government to further empower ward committees, and earmark funds to these bodies so the residents of each locality decide on allocating the money based on requirement,” Santosh said.
HDMC commissioner B Gopalkrishna said that the civic agency had received more than 600 residents interested in being on the ward committees two years ago. “We are inviting suggestions from the urban development authority on how to proceed. There is a plan to invite fresh applications,” he said.
Citizens and representatives of residents’ welfare associations interested in participating in local governance can contact Santosh Nargund (Ph: 9916135836).

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