Answers to the questions sent by residents from Bellandur Forum
By: Nandini Alva (Candidate for Bangalore Central from JDS)
1.If you get elected, what will you do, to prove to voters that you are honest and communicate to us about your work transparently? Will you commit to a monthly communication – email/website and/or public meeting? How can we residents send you our concerns and how will you act on those concerns?
Nandini Alva: I will be launching a CitizensConnect platform shortly specifically to hear Citizen concerns and issues. This platform will have an office in each of the Assembly constituenciesunder Bangalore Central. Citizens can also publish their questions on my website / facebook or send email to ensure that there is an interactive dialogue between us. As a MP I am allowed to seek funds from Central schemes for the betterment of my constituency. I shall publish a list of these schemes on my website (ad Citizen Connect centers) to create awareness on the rights of the citizens and the various government schemes available.
2. How will you ensure public participation – ie include us citizens of Bangalore Central – Bellandur ward -for policy-level decisions if you get elected again?
Nandini Alva: As mentioned above, I would like to hear grievances from citizens through my website and CitizenConnect centers. I would influence the concerned bodies through my position to address them. For Policy related matters, I would be open to suggestions & feedback that I can take up in the Parliament. I would build a polling mechanism to prioritize the issues.
3. What is your opinion on MPLADS? If you think it serves a purpose, how can it be used effectively and not on things BBMP should be doing anyways? How will you get citizen inputs on where it should be spent?
Nandini Alva: The primary objective of MPLADs funds is to executethe development works of capital nature based on locally felt needs with creation of durable assets. (http://mplads.nic.in/dpguid.htm). Each MP is given Rs 5 crores only each year that he/she can spend on pressing needs in the constituency. To address the needs of my constituency I have planned the following approach:-
- Leverage the MPLAD funds as Seed funding and seek additional capital through PPP (Public Private Partnership)
- Seekfunds from key Central government schemes like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM – the pivotal scheme commissioned by the ministry of urban development) under which pressing issues like power, housing, roads, water supply, mass transportation, sanitation and solid waste management are addressed. Other scheme is the Rajiv AwasYojanathat is exclusively meant for Urban housing and rehabilitation of slum dwellers. There are many such schemes running into thousands from which a MP can seek funds. But he/she needs to have a political will to leverage them. This would be one of my core agendas.
4. For us, groundwater recharge, cleaning up of Bellandurlake and sustainable development are important. How will you use your MPLAD funds to help us?
Nandini Alva:The biggest challenge at Bellandurlake is the inflow of sewage. According to BBMP, this lake receives around 400 to 500 million litres of sewage everyday.Cleaning and diverting the sewage inflow is a big task.The solution to ground water problem for the lake would require several hundred crores. In 1960, there were 262 lakes at Bangalore but now we have only 81 lakes. I would seek support from Central themes for uplifting of lakes at Bangalore. MPLAD funds will not be sufficient for a project of this size. I am committed to push for an urgent Water Recharge Plan for the city.
5. Given that the 74th amendment talks about empowering local governments and recommends devolving power to Municipal Corporations, what will you do to ensure this happens, using your power as an MP?
Nandini Alva: I strongly endorse the 74th amendment. This amendment allows for the power to be amongst the people who need to effect action and change. However, there needs to be strict accountability and checks and balances between the Municipal authorities, local MLAs and the MP regardless of political affiliation. I would insist on a CAG audit for all activities and then educate all citizens.
a) Will you support more powers for BBMP including ability to raise its own revenue so it is a strong independent local government?
Nandini Alva: Yes I support it. We need to decentralize and empower local bodies to action change. However, we need to identify clear roles and responsibilities, along with a system of accountability and transparency.
b) Do you want mayor to be city’s leader with real power over a 5 year term as opposed to the current one year term? Yes or No.
Nandini Alva: While I am agreeable to the concept of a Mayor having a long term, I am nervous to endorse one person in a position of such power for 5 years. Unless and until the credentials & competencies of corporators scale up, we must ensure that a non-performing Mayor should get replaced. The caliber of local elected representatives must be challenged and we citizens must insist on them being educated and credible to be corporators.
As a MP I would initiate a debate on policy for selection of a Mayor and build a consensus on the subject.
6. Given that the MP can take high-level policy decisions regarding infrastructure development based on population’s needs and given that local authorities like the BBMP’s hands are tied – will you support a new policy to put on hold permissions for new commercial and residential construction till the water
problem and road infrastructure are addressed? Yes or No
Nandini Alva: An MP’s role is to be the voice of the constituency in the highest law making body, the Parliament of India. It is our job to ensure that effective policies are tabled, debated and passed for betterment of the society at large. What is most critical is that we have an immediate comprehensive Urban Development Planthat addresses issues including water, garbage, sewage, roads in our city. As your MP, I will definitely voice these concerns and initiate a debate at the appropriate constitutional bodies.
7. Take any massive problem — e.g groundwater recharge in entire neighbourhood or complete lack of sewerage lines in most of Bangalore’s newer areas..pollution or public transportation. What is that one item – you will take up as a pet project – and your voters can hold you to your word.
Nandini Alva: Women’s Empowermentand Water Shortageare going to be my top priorities. I would set up cooperatives to provide social and financial empowerment to women.Water is an issue near to my heart. We are facing a severe crisis of water shortage in the city that we have to collectively address. The water from downstream Arkavathy has dried, underground water has completely dwindled and of the 972 Lakes only 200 are considered live which are more dumping grounds for garbage and filth than reservoirs of potable water. As a city we not only have to restore and preserve our existing lakes, but also ensure large developments have sufficient amounts of open spaces for ground water replenishment – less concrete more soil!!! I would work on a 50 year plan for the city for water. I have already invested time in researching how major cities in the world like Singapore, London etc recycle water. We must adopt global practices for water recycling.