It was ironic to see the Chief Minister wonder on the Kasa Muktha programme, if BBMP should be split into smaller municipal bodies. Of course it should be. But the question should not be reduced to such a simplistic one. There is a whole lot more to consider.
(a) If we say that the ideal city is of a certain size, say no more than 2.5 million, then we should ask ourselves what we will do in 2023, when Bangalore’s population is higher by another 2.5 million people.
(b) What about fast urbanising areas outside BBMP? Why do we continue to pretend that those are ‘panchayat’ areas when they are clearly not?
(c) Why do BWSSB, BMTC and other service providers behave as though their obligation to the core/old Bangalore is different from their obligation to the newer areas? Does this mean, if BBMP is split into a core city and several others around it, the state government will go back to treating the suburbs as second-class cities?
(d) Instead of wondering what is to be done, why not read the constitution and the law? What happened to setting up the MPC for regional planning? The lack of a planning body is glaringly obvious.
(e) Why not let the cities run at their own pace? Why should the state government get involved in potholes and solid waste and all sorts of municipal issues? Is that what the CM plans to do in Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli too?
Sir, you are Chief Minister of the State, with a clear mandate. Please drive the economy and the governance of our institutions, and trust the cities to make the most of their own powers, plus others you should devolve to them. We will never be able to build a great city – not just Bangalore, but any other – unless we first accept that cities have a right to their own impetus for development, without constant interference from the state government. If the Centre treated our State government the way the State treats the city, would we accept that?