The Why and How of the Survey of the Status of Wards in Bengaluru
Why is this survey needed?
Public involvement in decision making is the foundation of ground up urban planning and governance and is considered critical to securing healthy, progressive, inclusive, economically viable, sustainable and climate resilient cities.
The Constitution of India [Constitutional 74th Amendment (Nagarpalika) Act, 1992] mandates representative Ward Committees (WC) and Metropolitan Planning Committees (MPC) must guide governance and planning of cities. However, such democratic decision making bodies have been largely sidestepped and in their place para-statals (agencies created by the State that are unaccountable to the public) have been deciding for us. This has contributed substantially to the rather messy state of affairs in our cities.
As an outcome of directions by the Karnataka High Court in a PIL initiated by Environment Support Group (WP 46523/2012), Ward Committees were finally made functional in Bengaluru in 2018. Their performance has been far from satisfactory. Various citizen efforts are working creatively to build competence and accountability of WCs, and to make them the mainstay of governing and planning Bengaluru. MPCs, in contrast, are yet to be set up and made functional – 27 years after the Nagarpalika Act required the State to establish them. The role of MPCs is crucial: they are mandated to collate budgets and plans proposed by WCs to build a city-wide vision plan based on people’s imaginaries, and that every five years.
This state of affairs, a variety of mega projects are promoted on the claim they are in the public interest, and irrationally too, and the city continues to be governed in a rather centralised manner. An informed public can change this situation and help reclaim the Constitutionally guaranteed right to participate in decision making of the city for now and into the future.
It is necessary to get a fairly accurate understanding of the state of the city in order to guide peoples aspirations, perceptions and imaginaries to influence what Bengaluru can be. Currently, most methods of estimating ground realities are based on what is reported by civic authorities, which are centralised and opaque. Quite often these estimations are found to be erroneous, or deliberately misreported. Such gaps are exploited by vested interests and result in loss of revenue, corruption, disinvestment in skewed priorities, and consequent poor governance. All of which adversely affect the quality of living in the metropolis.
To close such gaps, ESG has developed a framework to help any citizen or citizen group to survey the state of his/her/their ward. Such crowd sourced citizen generated information can be collated and analysed at a city scale to gain an enriched understanding of the state of the Bengaluru metropolis. We invite you to participate in this assessment of the state of your ward. If you are keen, you can also survey more wards.
The Survey Format and Help guide are at: https://forms.gle/DejmmaNoXNnkNJeH9 (Google Form).
A PDF version of the survey and guide can also be downloaded from: http://tiny.cc/a1179y
Along with the above, the PDF of the map of the Planning Districts and the Wards can be downloaded from: https://bit.ly/2Y3u1pp. This will help you answer questions about land use and planning (question number 141 from the survey).
A Kannada version (PDF) of this survey is available a
The survey format
The survey involves perceptively assessing how BBMP functions and how this reflects in the state of your ward. This is done by evaluating operational efficiencies in 39 focused areas of civic governance. Whilst conducting the survey, one is exposed to various dimensions of the ward, and of municipal governance, and thus the effort is both educative and empowering at once.
Why should you participate in the survey?
Anyone can participate in this survey. The survey can be undertaken individually, or in a team. If the team effort is well organised, it should take a day. If done individually, it could take a few days. The information generated can then be uploaded onto a Google Form from any hand held device or computer with good internet access.
There are 198 wards of Bengaluru spread over about 1000 sq. kms. For an accurate assessment of the state of the city, it helps if all 198 wards can be surveyed. Multiple surveys of each ward by different groups/individuals provides enriched information of the state of that ward. And that’s perfectly okay.
Given the scale and intensity of the effort, ESG alone cannot do it. We need you to volunteer and help make this your survey happen, and make this study your study of our metropolis. Done together, it will be a lot of fun and provide us all with a vibrant and realistic report reflecting the State of Bengaluru.
Your participation in this study will be acknowledged. The final report, which will be based on a collation of Ward level assessments, will be prepared by ESG. Before we make that public, we will share the draft with everyone who participates in the survey. Thereafter, the report will be placed on our website, and also shared with various agencies of the State; all senior officials of BBMP; all Ward offices and Corporators; all Members of Legislative Assembly and Members of Parliament from Bengaluru.
We believe that this effort can help us gain deeper insights into the state of Bengaluru. This can empower us in furthering ongoing efforts to deeply democraticise governance and planning of Bengaluru. In this manner, we can work collectively to make our metropolis inclusive, progressive, peaceful, economically productive, culturally vibrant, and a sustainable and climate resilient city.
We request you to share this invitation in your circles. Or you could simply share the link: https://tinyurl.com/y3tl9d9l
ESG gratefully acknowledges that Azim Premji University has extended a research grant in support of this study.
Thank you for your cooperation and support.