A Manifesto for Atmanirbhar RWAs to Support National Development

Atmanirbhar RWA
Illustration by Photo by Claudio Schwarz 

The Confederation of RWAs (CoRWA), the national body of resident welfare associations, has released a manifesto to aid the dialogue and collaboration with government bodies towards a National Development Framework. The same was shared with all constituent bodies of the CoRWA on Monday, October 19, 2020 to enable them to carry forward the movement.

What is an RWA?  

All civil society organisations are non-governmental and are composed of active citizens who voluntarily participate in many aspects of governance within the society autonomously, and some cooperate with the authorities for speedy changes in some aspects of governance for the general welfare.

These civil society organisations work with all organs of the state i.e. executive, legislature and judiciary. They have no vested interest and most of them do not receive funds from the governments, though a few might be financed by some departments on some specific programmes or projects. They do not seek power and use their soft power to influence the decision-makers for changes in the delivery of services to the people. They have been working on many social problems, long before the governments, like begging, orphans, old age, and disease like leprosy, relief work in cases of epidemics or natural or man-made disasters.

But a Resident Welfare Association (RWA), besides, represents the common interests of an entire micro-urban community residing in a specific area of a colony with several households, or a building consisting of several apartments, in a municipality. They are elected by the residents to represent their community, just like there are MPs and MLAs to represent a wider area and over a larger population. From a democratic point of view, they function like a mini-government and responsible to those who have elected them to fulfil certain tasks specified in the memorandum of the Association, which is registered as a legal entity. The executive committee manages an annual budget with income from the members as charges for maintenance or other collective activities and expenditure to attend to the mutual needs as well as to the general welfare of the residents. Their financial transactions are audited and approved annually by the general assembly of the members. They pay taxes on some activities and employ a limited number of people.

Invariably composed of much diversity of castes, religions, languages, and people from other states, the RWAs are promoting harmonious inter-cultural living among all diverse residents who chose to live together as a single micro-urban community of caring and sharing. Together, they learn many social skills and take decisions mostly by consensus. Therefore, to promote self-reliance and self-management of resources i.e. to observe 'Atmanirbhar' locally at ward level, we would like to see that these self-governing bodies are treated as the 4th tier of self-governance, after the Union, state and municipal governments. They are, hence, called community governments in the USA and China.

I.                   Relations with the Municipal Corporation

A.                A state-level federation of the RWAs is to be recognised as the nodal agency by the Principal Secretary of the state Ministry of Municipal Administration and Urban Development. They can play an advisory role in providing policy inputs on various urban issues including environment (Solid waste, water, soil and air), municipal services, health services, infrastructure, etc. and participate in the implementation of various schemes, programmes and projects. The RWAs have many eminent residents like retired vice-chancellors, professors, lecturers, teachers, judges, lawyers, chartered accountants, doctors, engineers, managers, technicians, and former bureaucrats, who can now advise freely without any constraints.

B.                 A representative of the RWA federations can be co-opted to each Municipal Council, and be particularly involved in the city development plans and master plans.

C.                 Periodic consultations with the federations of the RWAs can be held at the level of the Zonal Commissioner and the Commissioner of the Corporation to review the progress made in resolving the general issues raised by the RWAs.

D.                Meritorious RWAs to be recognised on Independence day/Republic day celebration for awards by the Mayor and the Commissioner.

E.           Aasara, a unique parity Association formed and registered by the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation with the senior citizens’ associations and the municipal officials to participate and to oversee all the welfare activities of the municipal corporation, including those intended to the senior citizens.

II.                Safety & Security in the Locality

A. Not only each RWA maintains 24x7 watchmen and security guards, in all lanes and streets in a lay-out covered by several colony RWAs are also patrolled by night watchmen like the Gurkhas.

B. All the Police stations keep in touch with the RWAs i) as their points of visit, by signing the visit-book by the Police Patrolling vehicles. ii) The Police convene meetings with them during festival processions, pandals, such as ‘Ganesh Pooja’. iii) The Police form committees for public cooperation, such as Maitri Committees or Senior Citizens Committees.

C. In the care of the senior citizens: i). In the Apartment RWAs, their visitors are screened by the watchmen. In the emergencies, their neighbours in the corridor attend to them. They have always somebody to talk to. Their whereabouts in the building or block are traced in the CCTV cameras. ii). The Colony CCTV cameras installed in the streets and the parks keep track of their movements and, many cameras are connected to the Police Stations. The community halls, Elders' Day-Care centres, parks, clubs, gymnasiums, walking tracks, swimming pools maintained by the RWAs provide ample avenues to suit the needs of the senior citizens. Senior citizens' association are often hosted in the premises of the RWAs.

III.             Co-Gestion with the Municipality

A.                The RWAs can suggest active senior citizens, women, youth and other eminent residents join the four Ward Committees to be formed after the municipal elections, to participate in the micro-planning, maintenance of the infrastructure and for local coordination of the works of various departments.

B.           RWA can be involved in ward development plans covering health, education, environment and municipal services, particularly in the preparation of the Green Action Plan and its maintenance for the area. Apart from the plantation in the local public places, only they can help in greenery in the interiors of the habitations.

C.                 Local public works carried out in their lanes and streets, like laying roads, pavements, lighting, etc. should get their endorsement of satisfactory completion. This would reduce much wastage, low quality and corruption.

D.           In all fieldwork, the departmental staff can visit and seek their cooperation more systematically for the census, surveys, tax collection, etc.

E.                 They have to play the most important role in the local disaster-preparedness and in participating in the Standard Operating Procedures during the epidemics and other emergencies.

F.           Constitute 'Conciliation and Dispute Resolution Cell’ in RERA state committee with RWA members and others as suggested by RERA Act.

G.            Regular consultations should also be held with the bodies that deal with Law & Order, Water, Electricity, Health, Education, Planning, Transport, etc., where not only their cooperation but also their management is very much needed for efficient functioning and to avoid wastage, poor quality and corruption.

H.          Where needed they can facilitate the operations of the local post office and their accessory activities.

IV.             Economic Activities for Self-Sufficiency

A.                They raise funds from the residents as membership contributions and as maintenance charges.

B.                 They can take up economic activities directly more than at present on cooperative principles of management for shopping of goods and services needed by the residents, and deliver them individually.

C.                 They can protect and maintain parks, tanks, open places, etc. in their area, when entrusted to them, on a contract basis.

D.          They can provide and maintain bus-stands, car and cycle parking and auto-stands.

E.           The Ration shops and other public-distribution centres that are located in the area can be supervised by them as a Third Party.

F.                  RWA members to be part of Basthi Dawakhana management committee, Sanitation committee, Environment committee, Slum-Development activities, etc.

G.                RWAs to be formally associated with property tax collection, with the understanding that 10 or 15% per cent of the receipts are to be spent on local works desired by the RWAs.

H.                Cooperative or collective shopping of vegetables, fruits, pulses and other grocery items and their delivery to individual residents could be arranged with direct links with the nearby rural producers who can directly sell their products without middlemen. This arrangement would give higher income to rural households and controls seasonal escalation of prices of essential items for urban consumers. It further controls general inflation.

I.                   Local markets should be regulated by the RWAs in order to protect the rights of the consumers as per the Act.

J.                   RWAs should be given preference to install common services like Automatic Cash Machines, Coffee-machines, Washing machines, snacks-machines, photocopying machines, cyber-cafes, reading rooms and e-libraries, e-service-centres, gymnasiums, swimming pools, day-care centres for children and the senior citizens, street cleaning, garbage clearing, where they can collect user-charges.

K.                They should be allowed to negotiate and collect income from advertisements or publicity within not only their premises but also in the area.

L.           Yoga, dance, music, painting, cooking and classes for learning many mechanical skills for the reparation of many house-hold gadgets as well as for health-keeping can be organised in the community halls on user charges.

M.               Holding Sports & Games and other cultural events can be held in the child care centres, seniors' day-care centres, and in the community halls and other local common places or open spaces on behalf of the municipal corporation.

N.                It is to be hoped that in the long term the financial devolution from the local bodies can be further extended to the RWAs as the 4th tier of self-governance, to undertake local development works, as per the norms of the Finance Commissions. This is to some extent happening in the NOIDA area, without it being pronounced as such.

V.                Cooperation with State Election Commissioner and Chief Electoral Officer

A. Electoral Rolls revision and deletion of names with RWA endorsement can be done with the authorisation of the District Electoral Officer.

B. The RWAs can facilitate the functioning of the Polling Stations in their community halls in a permanent way.

C. The RWAs are observing the 26th January, SVEEP and make efforts to ensure higher participation fo their residents in voting during elections.

D. They can arrange and provide a common platform for the candidates to present themselves before the residents to seek their votes before all elections, and thereby reduce some practices of the candidates which are not in conformity with the Election Code of Conduct.

19th October, 2020

CoRWA

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1 Comments

  1. Sirs,
    Greetings
    Happy Deepavali greetings to Tarnaka Times management and the Editorial board and the staff.

    The article on Atmanirbhar RWA is quite informative, educative and elaborative. Hope the RWA movement will further prosper, with the TT leading the way.

    Many thanks for incorporating our news on RTI Act day program.

    Hope to have such encouragement in the future as well.

    Regards,
    TV Nageswara Rao

    ReplyDelete