The Bengaluru Blueprint Action Group is, as the name suggests, an implementation body that will focus on improving life in the city. Controversy has struck early, with words like ‘non-constitutional’ and ‘elitist’ already doing the rounds. With nearly impossible deadlines and the MPC dogging their footsteps, where will BBAG take us?
Plans for a Bengaluru Blueprint Action Group (BBAG) were only floated a few days ago, but it’s never too soon for a controversy! The idea has invited the wrath of activists from across the city, who are raising questions about what the group can achieve. Even BBAG members, on condition of anonymity, expressed their doubts about what they can really achieve. The delays in the formation of a concrete vision, ironic though they are in a group focused on implementation, are an indication of what is to come.
“The present government has already completed three years, which raises concerns over what can be achieved in less than two years. The BBAG should have pre-existed the Metropolitan Planning Commission, both of which are incomparable. They are fundamentally different, why pit one against the other?’’ asked a BBAG member.
Another member called the controversy unnecessary, attributing it to a few disgruntled activists who have not been asked to be part of the group. “If you have affiliations with the BJP or any other political outfit, how do you expect the Congress government to bring you on board?’’ he questioned.
He added that since time is already running out, the group, which is scheduled to meet later this month, should come prepared with set agendas for different issues, using the occasion to draw up detailed plans. “The bigwigs only show up now and then, but the core group should meet each month regardless, using each session to focus on a particular issue. I have conveyed this to the government, otherwise the group is pointless,’’ he said. “We need action, not vision.”
BBAG and MPC are fundamentally different
The BBAG is an advisory body that limits itself strictly to the drawing up and execution of ongoing projects that will fix the city, another member said, adding: “The MPC is broadly a planning body with a fixed five-year term. The government should have constituted MPC as per provisions of KMC and court order. The fact that this hasn’t been done is no reason for people to cast aspersions on BBAG, for which people have come forward to contribute at the request of the government,’’ he said.
Urban expert Ashwin Mahesh who has vehemently opposed the move, said he doubts the intent of the government. “If the state had constituted MPC in letter and spirit and allowed it to function, I would have welcomed the BBAG. Instead, they form the BBAG which will subvert the MPC, a constitutional body,’’ he said.
He added that majority of the action group members had stressed the importance of MPC on a number of occasions. “Why talk about co-existence when no life has been breathed into the MPC in the first place?”
BBAG Vs MPC
Bangalore Blueprint Action group (BBAG)
- Has individuals with proven track record.
- Some are individually wealthy so there less room for corruption
- Has people who have worked in the public sphere, and are established agents of change
- Heavyweights on panel could also means quick decision-making
- Members are globetrotters with offshore offices who bring a wealth of experience to the table
- No accountability, for though it has been coined an action group, there are no specific modalities for enforcement of plans
- Elitist in composition
- Is a non-statutory body and doesn’t have a binding on the members or permanent invitees like BBMP/BDA/BWSSB/BMRDA or city police
- Barring Janaagraha founders, V. Ravichandar, R.K. Misra, Ramakanth, Pai, Kalpana Kar and a couple of retired bureaucrats, the rest are largely ignorant of ground realities.
- For sure there will be brainstorming sessions and ideas, but how do you expect works will be expedited in short span of time?
- Given the two years that remain for the government, the group is facing very ambitious deadlines. There is much to be done in very little time to fix Bengaluru, a city that has been brought to its knees
Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC)
- Clear provisions in the KMC Act which clearly lays down roles and responsibilities and composition, has accountability, has constitutional validity
- Has fundamental working model to execute projects
- Inclusive in composition – has elected members, experts and civil society in the ratio of 2/3rd and 1/3rd
- Has a long tenure which will aide the follow through of projects and plans
- Has elections to chairman’s post, provision for removal of a member during conflict
- Upholds spirit of democracy but the corrupt political class that has largely failed the city comprising a 2/3rd majority defeats the purpose of transparency, accountability
- It is an open secret that corporators largely indulge in corrupt practices and having 18 corporators and 2 members from panchayat will do no good to sanctity of MPC
- Currently the MPC doesn’t have any penal clause
- No clarity selection criteria from civil society