Ward committees have assumed ornamental role in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), while three other municipal corporations and 53 municipalities in Telangana did not even bother to constitute ward committees and area sabhas. Only Bodhan municipality in entire Telangana has these mandatory committees.
Taking a serious view of this, the director of municipal administration (DMA) has decided to take action against municipal commissioners for failing to constitute ward committee (WC) and area sabhas (AS). The DMA has asked the corporations and municipalities to set up committees within three months. The circular was issued in July, 2014 and the three-month deadline expired in October, 2014. But till date, no action has been initiated by the commissioners of the respective local bodies.
The commissioner and director of municipal administration B Janardhan Reddy directed all the municipalities and corporations to furnish the details of the ward committees and area sabhas immediately or else give reasons for the delay.
As per the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution of India, citizen's participation in developmental activities in local bodies is mandatory. The pervious AP government had also issued a GO (No 57) in February 2010 to this effect. Subsequently, the GHMC constituted ward committees and area sabhas. The ward committee is headed by the councilor or a corporator of the ward and not more than 10 electors representing civil society such as residential welfare association and tax payers association would be nominated as members. Area sabhas are formed for every two to five thousand population of the area depending upon the size of the local body. These bodies play an important role in identifying local problems on issues such as roads, water supply and sanitation and propose works that need to be taken up.
As per rules, ward committee meetings should be convened once every two months and area sabha meetings once in three months. AP high court also directed the GHMC to see the meetings are held on a regular basis. But the ward committees in the GHMC limits have been confined to paper as city corporators did not want others to decide developmental works in their division.
The situation in other corporations and municipalities is worse as committees have not been constituted. The committees should have been set up within three months of the first meeting of the elected body. The DMA had also conducted orientation class for the local bodies in October, 2014 and asked them to set up the committees at least by the end of December, 2014.
As the civic bodies did not show any interest on the matter, Forum For Good Governance secretary M Padmanabha Reddy recently wrote to the state government on non-compliance of the constitutional obligation and requested the government to issue instructions to the municipalities and corporations.
Based on the representation, the DMA warned the commissioners not only to complete the process but also submit a monthly report after formation of the ward committees and area sabhas.