Proceedings of the 6th National Conference of Residents Welfare Associations in Hyderabad on 24th and 25th November, 2018

bodies demand Constitutional recognition for greater role in civic management
and devolution of functions

Conference has the Role of RWAs in Swachh Bharat, as the umbrella theme and is
organized by the United Federation of Resident Welfare Associations (U-FERWAS)
and the Confederation of RWAs (CoRWA), the apex body of RWAs India, in which
about 150 RWAs from across the country, civic authorities, heads of RERA and
justices have participated and shared their experience and best practices, in
the two-day meet.

I.          During
the inauguration, the leading experts and civic representatives stressed on the
need for a greater role and representation for local peoples’ institutions like
Residential Welfare Associations (RWA)s, in local self-governance and
decision-making for managing infrastructure better. In order to make it
possible, they demanded a Constitutional amendment to include RWAs in the 7th
Schedule of the Constitution to enable them to receive Central and State funds
and ensure greater role for RWAs in decision-making in government programmes
and projects.

deliberations revolved around six key topics: Swachh Bharat & RWA’s Role;
Solid Waste Management; Urban Housing & RERA implementation; Urban living,
Transportation and Challenges; Constitutional Recognition & Powers to RWAs;
Emerging trends in Civil Society.

governments or the ruling political dispensation is always anxious to take up
its own welfare schemes and use up all finances under the influence of local politicians.
To remedy this weakness, it is important to devolve the 18 functions mandated
for transfer to ULBs under the 12th Schedule directly to local bodies. This is
possible only if ULBs include RWAs and are added to the Seventh Schedule of the
Constitution making devolution of functions and funds to them mandatory”,
stressed Dr. Rao VBJ Chelikani, President, Confederation of RWAs (CoRWA). “This
is a must to enable a fourth tier of governance so that citizen participation
in the management of not only physical infrastructure but also social
infrastructure in their areas is possible,” the veteran civil society
campaigner said addressing the gathering. 
Echoing the thoughts, Col TP Tyagi, Convenor CoRWA, pointed out that
though this issue had been raised earlier with the Union Housing and Urban
Development minister by CoRWA and had even received a positive response,
nothing has happened yet. “We have to fight for constitutional recognition for
RWAs aggressively,” he stressed. People who have a stake in better management
of local government programmes have now no role in it. It is not a surprise
that many of these programmes are not succeeding.

delivering the inaugural address, Sri. Dana Kishore, Commissioner, GHMC,
acknowledged the merit in the demand for including RWAs in the 7th
Schedule of the Constitution and added that the demand is concomitant with the
duties that citizens themselves need to carry out.  Though Indian urban society has come a long
way over the last 200 years, compared to local bodies in the West, which have a
history of 2,000 years, there is still a lot of catching up to do, he observed.
Community engagement, protection for the residents, and loving your neighbours
are the fundamental duties of the residents and the RWAs, he stressed. If these
are recognized and observed in spirit most problems that local communities face
would disappear by themselves. For instance the population in Hyderabad has
more than doubled in the decade between 2001 and 2011. Population management
and people migration to urban areas is a consequence, where RWAs can play an
important role in addressing the issues. “I would like to see RWAs engaged
aggressively in most activities that we take up,” he said.

            “Citizens and residents are
permanent, whereas the Governments are temporary,” Dr Janardhana Reddy,
Commissioner, HMDA, said addressing the gathering stressing that transformation
therefore would have to come from within. It is a difficult task but there is
no option. 

a long time, the trigger for one such action has come from the Government of
India in the form of the Swachh Bharat Mission which was launched on October
2nd 2014, he observed, adding that Swachh Swarvekshan was an important
component of the programme to involve the community to improve and include
citizen participation.

II.         Though
still in its nascent stage, the Real Estate Regulation Act came in for major
focus at the Conference with leading luminaries. Speaking at a special session
on Urban Housing and RERA Implementation, Shri Anthony De Sa, Chairman, MP RERA
Authority, said the RERA in their state had taken a different view on the
compulsory registration of projects making it optional. However, the Authority
reserves its right to prosecute developers if any of the other rules were broken
under the Act by developers. Furthermore, any attempts to dilute the RERA rules
by anybody would not work as citizens are free to approach the tribunals to
seek legal redress as the law is very clear that any changes to rules cannot
amend the Act itself, added the country’s first appointee-Chairman under RERA.
While there are teething problems in the implementation of any new act, with
regard to RERA there have been many issues over the past two years, he
observed. A major concern is that implementation of any penalties or
punishments at the behest of the Authority of the Appellate tribunals is the
preserve of the District Collectors. This leads to inordinate delays given the
work load that the District Collectors already have. “Amendment of the RERA Act
is, therefore necessary to bring its powers on par with the Consumer Courts.
Otherwise it will remain a tooth-less tiger”, Mr De Sa added. “RWAs are the
backbone for the implementation of RERA,” said Justice B Rajendran, Chairman TN
RERA Appellate Tribunal, delivering the keynote address at the session.
Agreeing with Shri Anthony De Sa that implementation of a new Act is very
difficult, Justice Rajendran observed that there are many projects that are not
registered in Tamil Nadu. But the Authority suo moto sent notices to the local
authorities stating that at least 1000 project developers are not permitted to
sell their units as they maintained they are private and did not require to be
registered. This brought them to book, he shared. Therefore, the belief that
the Act does not apply if the project is not registered is a myth, he said.
Thereupon, Col. T.P. Tyagi and Sri. CA Ramesh Prabhu, belonging to FPCE have
highlighted the implications for the house owners.

National RWA Awards was a major draw at the Conference with municipal
commissioners from cities like Indore, Surat, Pune, etc. nominating successful
RWAs and their managers for the National Best Manager Awards apart from
encouraging them to share their experiences and best practices. Nearly 30 RWAs,
ULB and individuals received the awards under various categories.

            Later sessions covered various
subjects of particular concern to the urban residents by the subject-experts by
way of panel discussions and presentations. Panel Swachh Bharat & Role of
RWAs with Dr.K.S.R. Murthy, Maj.Shiv Kiran, Moderator: Smt. Hari Chandana, IAS,
Addl. Commissioner, GHMC, Dr. Meenakshi Bharat, WoW-ITC, Hyderabad. Session
Coordinator. K. Raghavendra Rao.

           SolidWaste Management: M.S. Venugopal & Sharad Kumar, Moderator: Uday Shirname,Green Rich Grow, Chennai, Maj Shiv Kiran, Hyderabad, Ms. Ranju Minhas, NewDelhi, Mrs. Madhuri Subba Rao, Bengaluru, Session Coordinator: KHS Sharma. WomenSafety- SHE Teams by Addl. DGP Ms.Shika Goel, Introducing practices of Good Healthin RWAs by Dr. Alakananda Banarjee.Urban Living, Transportation and Challenges:Justice Rajendran, Justice B.N. Rao, K. Venu Gopal, Moderator: G. ChandraShekar, Urban Transportation: Malcom Wolfe, Urban Living and Women Safety, Ms.Sunita Godbole. Prof. B. Sant on Footpaths. Session Coordinator: K.Vijay PrasadReddy. Swachh Bharat- RWAs Role, presentation by RWAs, Session Coordinator: VVRao. Trends in Urban Governance: Col. T.P. Tyagi, K.H.S. Sharma,  GHMC Representative, Narsapur MunicipalCorporation, TS MA&UD, Coordinator: K.Karunakar.Emerging Trends in CivilSociety: M.S. Venugopal, Empowerment of RWAs- J.M.S. Nagarjunan, V.V. Rao, Dr. K.S. R. Murthy, Co. T.P. Tyagi.Session Coordinator: G.R.S. Prasad Rao.

There was also an exhibition opened by Sri. Dana Kishore,
the GHMC commissioner.


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