U-FERWAS Proposals for Draft GHMC Bill

 


Part 1

 

I.                   Objective: Firstly, the existing Act should be amended so as to reflect further devolution of functions, functionaries and funds to the urban local self-governing bodies, as envisaged in the 74th Constitutional Amendment, which is not yet fully implemented. Secondly, it is to provide more avenues for increased direct participation of the urban citizens in their area governance, so as to reflect their human and social capital.

1).        If the Commissioner, GHMC is endowed all the devolution envisaged in the 74th Amendment, there would be no need for a District Collector for Hyderabad Metropolitan city and the present powers and functions can be transferred to the Commissioner and his team of Additional and Zonal Commissioners. The present rural parts of the present Hyderabad district could be amalgamated with their adjoining districts.

 

II.                Objective:  Today, the urban citizens need municipal governance, not only by way of traditional vertical political representation through corporators, but also horizontal representation of their other spheres of interest in their life as youth, women or seniors, as well as from varied productive and technical domains such as health, education, safety and security, leisure and culture.

1).        The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation shall be the first in the country to have a Citizens Council or an Upper Council, like the state legislative council or an Upper Chamber or a Board of Alderpersons composed of the delegates of: all the professional bodies like that of the taxi-drivers, domestic workers, doctors, Bar Council, Institute of Engineers, Association of Architects, CESS, IMA, lawyers, chartered accountants, CII, Hysea, managers, industrialists, tax-payers associations, senior and pensioner associations and other civil society organisations, the resident welfare associations, educational, industrial, commercial, research and health institutions, as well as the creamy layer of the society in the domains of games and sports, art, films, literature, culture and sciences. The Council shall be the window of the rich social capital and culture of the metropolitan residents of Hyderabad.

2).        The selection should be made by the municipal commissioner or the district collector on a clearly laid-out technical criteria, under the supervision of the State Election Commission. Most of the professional bodies would nominate their own candidates who can spare their free time voluntarily, without seeking any honourarium, privileges and pensions.

3).        Its functions would be advisory, recommendatory and evaluative (internal) of the performance of GHMC to ensure that the city development plans and implementation go in harmony with human and social development objectives.

4).        The Alderpersons Council may elect a Vice-Chairperson annually to preside over the sessions regularly, while the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor remains the ex-officio chairperson.

5).        The Upper Council will meet and receive foreign and national delegations to showcase the accomplishments of GHMC and also to discuss the subject-matters.

6).        Just like the state legislative council, the Upper Council members’ term also should be for six years, while one-third would retire every two years.

a)                  The term of the Upper Council would be non co-terminous with the elected Municipal Council.

 

III.              

1.                  While Mister or Madam Mayor is entitled to all protocols as the first resident of the city, he should not claim feudal titles like lordship, excellency, etc.

2.                  In order to promote collective leadership, to share the governance experience and to avoid personalisation of power and authority, the Mayor shall be elected annually from among the Standing Committee members, elected by the Zonal Councils.

3.                  The Standing Committee shall be composed of two members consisting of the Chairperson and the vice-chairperson of each zone.

4.                  There shall be a ‘Zonal Council’ in each zone with a chairperson and vice- chairperson elected from among the corporators of all the wards in the zone. The chairperson of the zonal council shall be called Deputy Mayor.

 

IV.             Objective: The present rules and regulations, tender procedures, payments, etc. of the municipality in relations to the private contractors are vitiated in such a way that they lead to corruption and poor quality of execution, with no possibility to pin-point the responsibility. Further, the low quality of the initial works is obliging the municipality to spend considerable amounts for maintenance and for repairs and other emergency actions.

1).        For all works undertaken or permissions given in a ward such as roads, the contractor or the Inspector of the Finished Works should obtain the endorsement of the local resident welfare association concerned or of the local Ward Committee member of the area.

2).        There should be systematic social audit or Third Party evaluation for all infrastructure projects, worth more than one lakh rupees, such as roads, pavements, fly-overs, electric installations, reservoirs, etc., as well as for all social welfare activities undertaken by GHMC.

3).        Members of the Upper Council shall suggest or nominate the team of such Third Party observers and receive their reports. 

4).        Objective: The present municipal staff has a poor image in the public about their efficiency and competence skills in performing their tasks.

            Hence, a separate Vigilance officer of the rank of an All-India officer cadre should a). be constantly vigilant over the exercise of competency and skills, delays, abuse or wastage of the Corporation’s resources and any inconveniences caused to the public by the staff of the Corporation b). receive complaints from the public, and c). ensure the proper functioning of the Citizens Charter.

5).        A police officer of the All-India cadre should head a re-inforced Enforcement department and Demolition Squad to clear the encroachments of open spaces, tanks, roads and footpaths, etc.

6).        There shall be committee proposed by the Upper Council or by the Mayor to review the forms of bills or receipts or contracts to be filled by the public as well as the contractors so as to simplify them in order to make them understandable.

7).        The spirit of the contracts or permissions from the departments dealing with Health & Sanitation, Engineering, constructions and Planning, and the rules and procedures of the finance department is ‘first, prove your innocence.’ Instead, it should be rather in terms of ‘trust and verify’ approach in dealing with the public.

i)                    For all works and plans to be approved, it should be necessary to have the attestation of the engineers or architects involved, so that they shall be held responsible for eventual infractions, deviations, damage and accidents along with the applicant. Panels of the professionals who are recognised should be announced and updated in the Website regularly.

8)    .      Municipal Tribunals envisaged under the previous Act regarding any disputes between the citizens and the municipality have to be set up, as soon as possible. Any infractions to the GHMC Citizens’ Charter shall be appealed to them.

9)    Where a Resident Welfare Associations can undertake works and projects proposed in their own areas, they should be allowed to do so, on par with the empanelled contractors, with technical assistance and mobilisation funds from the Corporation.

10)Objective:  At present, the municipal personnel, from the contract labour (street sweepers, etc.) to the All-India cadre, more than one-third of their time is practically devoted every day to functions other than their initial duties, such as preparation of electoral rolls, election duties, census, surveys, campaigns, visits of the dignitaries, ceremonies and celebrations. Very often, their skills are not appropriate to the assignment and their attendance or presence cannot be properly accounted for. Where others like teachers are being roped in, their more important primary tasks are being neglected leading to social loss.

i)      .      Hence, when required, the Commissioner must be able to recruit temporary suitable staff from the open market on contract basis to meet the ‘ad hoc’ specific tasks, without having to take the permission of the concerned department in the Secretariat.

ii)     Further, the Commissioner should be able to invite ‘volunteers’ from the ward committee members or civil society or professional organisations or from educational institutions.

11).      Citizens Charter: The Corporation should revise and update the ‘Citizens’ Charter’ regularly in consultation with the members of the Upper Council or the civil society organisations or consumers of those services, and exhibit the Charter widely in all circles, in addition to its presence in the Corporation’s website. Deficiency in the delivery in terms of time and quality should entail automatic penalties and punishment in-house expeditiously by the Vigilance Officer. Appeals by either party should be before the Municipal Tribunal.

12)Public Information Officers, nominated to implement the RTI Act should be  trained by the State Information Commission.

13)The GHMC Planning department to draw a) five-year City Development Plan and b) a Master Plan under the guidance of the Upper Council and in concurrence with HMDA. Such a Plan should integrate all the micro-plans proposed by the Ward Committee. As the present practice goes, it should be open for complaints from the concerned parties as well as the suggestions from the civil society organisations.

 

V.        Finance:

1).        The Upper Council should make an annual report of their observations and suggestions for increasing the income of the Corporation.

2).        The Estate Officer of the Corporation and the Additional Commissioner in charge should

a). make a periodic inventory and mapping of the total municipal assets, such as open lands, open spaces, parks, offices, libraries, shops and cultural places and objects. There should be financial incentives or cash awards to those who indicate, discover or identify hitherto unknown assets,

b). a periodic resurvey and re-assessment of income from them,

c). an annual status report to be presented before the Municipal Council on the income received and expenditure incurred on such  assets.

3).        When a lay-out for construction is approved, the public space indicated for parks, play grounds, etc. It should be, immediately geo-tagged and demarcated by green fencing. Later, its custody should be handed over to ward committees or the resident welfare associations or local civil society organisation for their maintenance under contract, or to private firms which come forward to sponsor its maintenance.

 

                                                       


          

Part 2

 

VI.  Rules & Guidelines for the Ward Committees to be formed as per the Municipalities Act. 20 of 2020 of GoT. They may be adopted for GHMC Act also.

 

Objective: According to the Municipalities Act 20 of 2020 there would be 4 ward committees for senior citizens, women, youth and for eminent citizens. The members of these committees should come from among the resident welfare associations, community-based organisations, and other such groups and individuals by rotation annually. However, given the past disappointing experience of the earlier ward Committees and Area Sabhas, and judicial guidelines given, the following rules and guidelines might allow the residents to invest their very rich human capital to make Hyderabad a greater city.

 

Mission:

Among other things already mentioned, the WC should include Micro-planning, Establishing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in case of emergencies and for disaster management, day-to-day coordination of field activities of various departmental staff in the ward, Maintenance of local infrastructures and safeguarding the public assets.

 

1.                  The 4 Ward Committees are to be selected once in three years, so as to disassociate or de-phase the selection from the election of corporators mode and mood. The nominations are to be called for, scrutinised and selected by the Dy. Commissioner or the Zonal Commissioner, as Assistant Returning Officer (ARO) under the supervision of the State Election Commission. They shall be placed before the Council for approbation. In case, there are more nominations than required, the Dy. Commissioner or the Zonal Commoner might propose criteria for selection by the Municipal Council among them, taking into account the principle of rotation and diversity. The Commissioner is responsible to ensure effective and democratic functioning of the Ward Committees.

 

2.                  (8 A (2): The members of the Committees:

The residents of the ward are to be proposed by the associations registered with the Registrar of Societies or under the Registrar of Cooperative Societies, such as the Resident Welfare Associations, including Colony associations as well as Apartments-Building associations, senior citizens' welfare associations or Cooperative Housing Societies, or those groups recognised by MEPMA, or UCD department, such as the 'Basti Committees', Self-Help Groups, and the Circle level Aasara committees, which are very specific to GHMC, or Mahila Mandalis, Youth associations, and chapters or area committees of the nationally accredited professional bodies of health, educational and medical persons, Chartered Accountants, Advocates, Domestic Helpers, Auto-Rikshaw drivers, teachers, lecturers and professors, engineers, whose memberships are not based on caste or creed or not affiliated to any political party.

i. As far as the Committee of 25 eminent persons is concerned, the nominated persons should be residents in the ward but not necessarily a member of the nominating Association, and should not be an active member of any political party.

ii. Half of such nominations should be women.

iii. Two-thirds of the nominations should be processed through the Resident welfare Associations so as to ensure annual rotation in nominations, adequate representation of local diversity in all Committees, as well as to ensure the unbiased and neutral functioning.

iv. Among the associations and recognised groups, preference should be given to those which hold regular annual general body meetings of more than 50 residents in the ward in the spirit of ‘area sabhas’ to collect the feedback from the residents in the area. 

v. Care should be taken as far as possible by the Dy. Commissioner to see that neither the close family members of the corporator nor his/her defeated political opponents do not creep into the Committees to disrupt the good-faith in the discussions.

vi. During the course of approbation in the Council, the corporator of the ward concerned should be given an opportunity to veto the nomination of two members in each Committee, if the Mayor is convinced.

vii. While the corporator in office would be the ex-officio president of the four committees, a working-chairperson and a minutes-drafting secretary should be elected in each committee at its first annual session to assist the GHMC-appointed Secretary who is responsible for its proper functioning and who communicates the minutes regularly to the Commissioner and the Mayor for their consideration and follow up.

viii. The meetings shall be convened by the working-chairperson, with due information to the President-Corporator and the GHMC Secretary, as often as the chairperson deems it necessary, while at least one meeting every three months is obligatory.

ix. The quorum shall be 13 members for each Committee.

x. Along with other residents in the ward, including the members of the other 3 Committees also should be allowed to attend as observers. They would be allowed to speak only if the chair permits. The family members or the nominees of the corporator would not be allowed even as observers.

xi. The life and work of the Committees will continue till new committees are approved by the new Municipal Council.

xii. Any representation of the Committee to any other body than GHMC should be forwarded through the GHMC Secretary. The Committee can, further, demand the GHMC Secretary to invite the local officer of any department or any private establishment or agency operating in the area, such as electricity, water, health, transport, communications, etc. to their meetings for clarifications and for better field coordination in execution.

xiii. The members of the 4 Committees do not receive any remuneration or speak in public on behalf of GHMC or the Ward.

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