An Agenda for RWAs

The Resident Welfare Associations, whether they are Apartment-building associations or Colony Welfare Associations or Gated Communities are rapidly multiplying themselves as an inevitable way of living for all urban citizens, since the urbanization continues to expand. The urban residents in RWAs are all educated, qualified and are professionally active or retired persons, who organize themselves into an RWA to manage their own affairs, by necessity. This is voluntary self-government by a micro-community of sharing and caring for each other in a local area with the direct participation of the residents, unlike the municipal, state and union governments that operate over vast populations through political representatives wielding wide power. 

 As they are new and emerging institutions, the Indian Constitution which was drafted in the forties of the last century, could not recognize and confirm their place as the 4th tier of self governance and as the central and basic entity for democratic way of living. They can cooperate among themselves on infinite issues within the community for better and harmonious living. They should and can cooperate with outside agencies for area development without taking sides with the political parties. Without local area development, national development has no meaning. 

 On 19th and 20th of November, 2022 the 9th National Conference of Resident Welfare Associations (NCRWA) is going to assemble many RWAs in Chennai to discuss some issue of our immediate concern. Under the coordination of Col. Tejendra Pal Tyagi, Mr. JMS Nagarjunan, Mr. Ramesh Prabhu, Dr. KSR Murthy and Mr. V.V. Rao and other office-bearers of the Confederation of Resident Welfare Associations (CoRWA), the participants will discuss and adopt some resolutions with state-wise plans of action. Some issues would be pursued with concerned state and national authorities and wider-issues of policy implications would be proposed to the political parties to be included in their manifestoes before the General Elections. 

The issues being tackled are listed here:

l. One of the highlights of this Conference would be "Commitments of RWAs to Mitigate and to Adapt to the Climate change" as a follow up to our PM's Commitments at the Conference of all States (CP-26) in Glasgow. The CP-26 wanted the cities to take commitments to reduce the urban carbon foot-print within their cities, and this is possible only when the urban citizens voluntarily commit themselves to do so within their communities, with a pledge or oath to observe them strictly in the interests of the entire humankind. 

2. After discussing the general issues of water resources and their preservation and just distribution, an updated "Practical Guide on “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle" in water management for and by RWAs with particular emphasis on "Drinking Water", is to be re-issued in several languages by CoRWA. 

3. In addition to the issue of plantation in and around the area, for which the contribution of the RWAs is well acknowledged nationally, the urban residents can create more abundant, appropriate and customised greenery in their rooms, interiors and around their residences by launching “Greener Interior: Greener India” campaign for domestic plantation. 

4. An appeal to the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) in States to use the RWAs Tarnaka Times – November Page 2 extensively for consumer awareness and provide representation to RWAs in the RERA Committee for a triangular consultations to formulate regulations between the consumers, producers and the regulatory body. 

5. In view of the vast number of RWAs spread across the urban areas in the country, there is a need for preparing a Draft Bill on the Legal Status and Registration of RWAs, as model legislation by Parliament, so that there would be uniformity in the legal status of the RWAs with differentiated fiscal treatment in all States. Since it is a settled fact that the registration of an RWA as an autonomous association, which is equivalent to a ‘fictitious person’ is a matter of constitutional right, the need is only for several simple fiscal and economic regulations keeping in mind their nature of being a mutual service cooperative. The Resolution would be forwarded by a CoRWA delegation to the Suresh Prabhu Panel, recently appointed by GoI to reform and reframe the structure of all the cooperatives in the country. Further, a CoRWA delegation would be seeing the Union Minister concerned. 

6. There is a dire need for the preparation of a compendium or a National Directory of RWAs with in-built mechanisms for district-wise updating as a source of reference to consult for all. 

7. The RWA Federations have to form Panels of Election-Officers or Observers and to coach them so that they can objectively and amicably conduct elections in RWAs, as it is mandatory in some States. 

8. As the senior citizens among the residents are great assets as a source of free time, energies, experience and relations, a forum for seniors should be provided for within the Bye-Laws of all RWA constitutions. The RWAs have to see that the seniors serve the community at large as well as attend to the other seniors in the area, with particular attention to the 80+.

9. The RWAs should seek and engage negotiations for structured relations with the local enterprises as social partners for improving the quality of life of the residents: for utilisation of digital and IT technology for the management of the RWAs; for shopping and delivery of quality goods and services; for health care and medical facilities; for safety and security; for obtaining alternative sources of income, etc. 

10. The Conference would draft an appeal urging all State Governments to pass municipal legislation to form Ward Committees composed of the local civil society organizations of women, youth and seniors and to organize Area Sabhas in synchronization or at the same time as the General Assemblies of the RWAs in order to enhance the direct participation of the resourceful urban citizens in the management of matters that concern them directly, including the development of the infrastructures within the area and their connectivity. Such a Ward Committee would be able to mobilize committed volunteers in case of a natural or man-made disaster. Hence, it is desirable that a model law be passed by the Union Parliament recognizing and confirming the place of RWAs as the 4th tier of self governance within the framework of the Ward Committees, instituted under Article 243 S of our Constitution, after the 74th Amendment. 

A CoRWA delegation would take up the Resolution before the concerned Union Minister. Those RWAs which are not participating in the event in Chennai for any reason, can take up the above 10 issues for discussion on 23rd November in their General Assembly meetings and take up the matters with their state authorities. 

                                  Dr. Rao VBJ Chelikani, President Confederation of Resident Welfare Associations

                                                                                        E-mail: raovbj Cell: 98490 67498

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