Soon, a community participation law
Reported by Abantika Ghosh,TNN on 26 Feb 2008

NEW DELHI: The Delhi government has moved a note for cabinet approval for enacting a “community participation law” that will make it mandatory for the government and its agencies to get the view of citizens, mainly residents’ welfare associations and other citizens’ groups, before starting any project.

In other words, if passed, the new law will make it difficult for Officers and experts to ram projects that are palpably ill-conceived - say, like the BRT corridor - down your throat. The move may prove to be as significant as the Right to Information Act in empowering citizens. The cabinet note, currently with the city government’s legal department, is in accordance with the norms under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

Said a senior official of the state urban development department, ‘‘According to the JNNURM norms, there should be municipal committees, ward committees and below-ward committees to ensure public participation in the process of decision making. But here we already had Bhagidari and there is a very strong presence of RWAs. So we have moved the proposal to formulate a law that gives RWAs and any other citizens’ groups a say in what projects are taken up in their areas.’’

The way the law has been visualized, RWAs would henceforth replace what in JNNURM parlance has been called below-ward committees, he added.

Once the cabinet gives its approval and the law is passed by the assembly, for every infrastructure project, the department or agency concerned would need to give a presentation to RWAs who would then be asked to submit their objections or suggestions within a stipulated period of time. ‘‘Basically, the law will be such that had it been there before the elevated south Delhi stretch of Delhi Metro or the BRT had been conceived, the project may never have seen the light of day,’’ said a senior official.

Under JNNURM, the department was also supposed to bring a proposal for the formulation of a “public disclosure law”, but the department has written to the Centre for an exemption on the grounds that RTI is already fulfilling the role of making information available to citizens.

City RWAs, meanwhile, think a move like this was long overdue. Said Rajeev Kakria, president of the Greater Kailash I E-Block RWA: ‘‘Seeking citizens’ opinion should be made mandatory for projects like BRT where not only is our money being spent, but we are also paying a higher price in accidents and general inconvenience.”

Soon, a community participation law-Delhi-Cities-The Times of India