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Bellandur residents had posed a series of questions to all the candidates contesting from Bangalore Central for Lok Sabha Elections 2014. This is the email response we received from AAP candidate, V. BalaKrishnan.
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?
I am committed to bring transparency in allocation, deployment, usage of all Government funds. I will make public aware, not only about my work, but also all tender details, status of projects and execution/quality standards and penalties on not meeting them. This will help citizens get involved in monitoring and evaluation of every work that affect them.
The AAP came into existence on the base principle of ‘SWARAJ’ and it goes without saying that we will be holding Jansabha with the people on regular basis. I am committed to on-going communication via meetings, email/website – google hangouts, Etc. I will also put appropriate process & system to gather issues/compliant and tracking them to closure.
2. How will you ensure public participation – i.e. include us citizens of Bangalore Central – Bellandur ward – for policy-level decisions if you get elected again?
Bangalore is blessed with vibrant civic groups, right from Resident Welfare Associations to larger Pan Bangalore organisations like Citizen Action Forum, CIVIC, BRACE, BPAC, Janagraha, Hasiru Usiru, Environmental Support Group amongst many others. We will work with and through the current Eco system to identify and address basic civic issues as well as remove corruption.
Also, for broader involvement and participation of Citizens, we can set up technology-based solutions – including google hangouts, twitter conferences, online referendum etc., to get inputs from Citizens on the bills and projects discussed in the Parliament.
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?
I will spend MPLAD funds in a transparent manner, with the following process –
· Spend areas will be decided after open discussion with people in Bangalore Central constituency.
· All tendering and execution details and photographs of constructed infrastructure will be available online for all citizens to see.
· We will do a social audit to measure the impact after implementations which will be available online.
· There are more than some 100 slums in Bangalore central. They lack basic amenities like potable water and power. The garbage and over flowing drainage is a big issue in slums – and causing health hazard to slums as well as other residential areas surrounding the slums. With citizen consultation, part of MPLAD funds could be spent in slums to improve their quality of living. The slum dwellers are seen as a vote bank with no improvement in their quality of life. They are entitled to dignity of living. They have lost all hopes on the government. The money power and muscle power is rampant and they live in constant threat. We have to make sure that they get their dignity back and get decent quality of living.
In addition to spending MPLAD funds in the above manner, I am committed to establish more citizen participation in all wards in Bangalore Central so that the citizens get more voice in how BBMP functions – and how BBMP funds are used.
4. For us, groundwater recharge, cleaning up of Bellandur Lake and sustainable development are important. How will you use your MPLAD funds to help us?
If there was only one item on my wish list it would be WATER, and WATER FOR ALL i.e., to every household in Bengaluru city. Many citizens do not know that the very existence of Bengaluru is threatened by impending shortage of water. The urgency of this issue cannot be overstressed. A series of insensitive and Land Mafia led actions have killed most of our lakes. And a system of clean healthy lakes, including Bellandur Lake, in turn replenishing ground water is the only real long-term solution.
Closely along with Lake Rejuvenation, the other measure is City Wide Rain Water Harvesting. Independent building rain water harvesting is only one small part of rain water harvesting.
The third angle here is grossly inefficient running of the BWSSB. The absence and breakdown of Underground Drainage Systems (UGD) and sewage finding their way into storm water drains is the singular reason for our currently unhealthy lakes.
Lake encroachment, wetland encroachment and Raj kalves destruction by some of the unprincipled players in the real estate with connivance of politicians and bureaucracy, creates the final death knell for our lakes. Legislation, political will and constant citizen voice is needed to top this.
Amongst other measures would be regulation of the water tanker industry. Most parts of the city is kept starved of water to encourage water mafia. We need to change this and make sure every household is provided access to quality water. We need to break the Politico-water mafia nexus. I am committed to work with citizens and various citizen groups to break this nexus.
With the process of utilising MPLAD funds as I have described earlier, some of the MPLAD funds could certainly be used to rejuvenate lakes. Several other models could be utilized to raise necessary funds – such as working with BBMP, making citizens partners in maintenance of the Lakes, public-private partnership, and Corporate Social Responsibility programs.
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?
a) Will you support more powers for BBMP including ability to raise its own revenue so it is a strong independent local government?
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.
I fully support more powers to the local government. Swaraj bill is a major part of AAP manifesto and we would go even deeper than simply more powers for local government. We will legislate more powers in the hands of people at the local level. Elected representatives – corporators – will implement the decisions made by the Ward Sabhas of local residents. Every Ward Sabha would be given funds for development activities in their areas, which they can use based on their needs and priorities. For instance – laying a particular road, repairs at a school, opening a dispensary, rain water harvesting and so on. Moreover, Ward Sabhas will be empowered to make payments for Govt work only when quality is satisfactory – and will be empowered to cancel licenses when irregularities and malpractices are found. Transparency in its accounts is needed and should be available to the public at will. We need financial transparency to overcome corruption in the BBMP as well.
I want to see Mayor to be directly elected by people for the term of 5 years. The current system of one year term has proved to be highly ineffective –there is not sufficient time for the Mayor to make necessary decisions for the long-term planning for the City, no expectation of any accountability from any of the Mayors, and worse of all, the Mayor position is being used to allow more people to indulge in corruption. I am committed to fight corruption in Governance and bringing more transparency and accountability.
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
As I have explained under Q.5, I will support policies that will put more power on the hands of people to decide how funds should be used at the Ward level – which includes ability to put on hold permissions for any unstainable projects. I will also work citizens and civil society groups to raise awareness among citizens as well raise the issue in the Parliament to ensure new policies for all new ‘development’ projects have ecological perspective and are sustainable.
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.
As I have explained under Q.4, Water will be my pet project. Please see details above.