ANNUAL REPORT CITIZENS’ ACTION FORUM – 2015-2016
SOME IMPORTANT CAF INTERVENTIONS
OBJECTION TO BBMP TRIFURCATION
Strong advocacy objecting linking BBMP trifurcation with BBMP council elections which we believe will form an impediment to have a functional MPC and ward committees. We have met with Shri Siddaramaiah and have apprised him of our apprehensions and sought BBMP council elections on time. We also reached out to the media through a well attended press conference and many other media articles. We ha.d also invited Shri Ravichander to our meeting to debate and discuss on the merits of this thought. Met with the Governor sought his support which he clearly indicated to us and the bill was not signed rather has been referred to the president for his consent.
ADVOCACY WITH BBMP ON HIKE IN PROPERTY TAX
We met with Mayor, BBMP commissioner and Spl commissioner Rashmi, made out our case, wrote letters ,media advocacy by holding a well attended press conference on unscientific property tax hike. We also were on the verge of MAPPING using satellite imagery. But the information on some wards provided proved that BBMP IS IN a big mess as they do not have comprehensive information of tax payers. We now have
FILED A SERIES OF RTI’S FOR SEEKING INFORMATION
ON number of residential properties and commercial properties across Bengaluru and in many individual wards. We will be following this lead.
ADVOCAY AND LEGAL CASE COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPEMENT PLAN ;
Wrote letters objecting to the adhoc manner in which the Public Consultation on CDP was conducted. Attended the meeting and made our prescence felt and walked out in protest.
MPC (METROPOLITAN PLANNING COMMITTEE)
CAF has been a leading light in lobbying for the formation of the MPC and seeking implementation of the 74th Amendment in letter and spirit
CLEARING ENCROACHMENT ON FOOTPATHS
Details of the judgment to clear footpath encroachments and giving specific locations in south and east bengaluru. We believe this will make bengaluru a pedestrian friendly city.
BBMP AUDIT AND BUDGET
We have been following up on seeking timely BUDGET PRESENTATION AND TIMELY TRANSPRENT AUDIT.
PROTESTING AGAINST BOTH THE VISION GROUP AND MORE RECENTLY THE BENGALURU BLUE PRINT ACTION GROUP ( BBAG )
We have taken a very strong stand both the times the Extra constitutional authority like the vision group was convened by the state government. We are now in the process of exploring legal intervention.
CAF ATTENDING CITIZENS’ MEET
@ Rajarajeshwari Nagar – We as CAF attended a citizens called for meet t discuss local issues including garbage, with the local corporator and joint commissioner BBMP PRESENT. Our inputs were much appreciated and timelines were fixed.
@ Indiranagar to discuss strategies to stop rampant commercialization of residential areas.
CAF GAVE INPUTS FOR BBMP ELECTION MANIFESTO’s
BJP who invited us to give inputs to their manifestos for bbmp elections was met with and letter written to other THE MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES, for the BBMP ELECTIONS.
LOBBYING WITH Shri Javdekar, HONBLE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT – FOR STOPPING ENCROACHMENTS ON LAKEBEDS IN BENGALURU
We met with him and apprised him of our stand on the encroachments on lakes and rajakaluves. There was an interesting take by him where he mentioned possible central intervention by declaring the lakes as heritage zones.
CIVIC NEWSAPP A JOINT INITIATIVE
Where an android app has been developed and we conducted an online and onground survey to seek people’s opinion on their priorities in their ward. We have reached to 1,20,000 people and 16% of them completed we held press conference to announce the launch and results. This app will continue to function
A CASE FOR THE HONEST PROPERTY TAX PAYERS IN BENGALURU.
WE ARE sharing this out of concern for all the honest property taxpaying citizens of Bengaluru – reeling under garbage not being collected, lakes disappearing , pothole ridden roads and so and so forth are in for a double whammy – as the process for a “steep hike” in property taxes has begun in earnest by BBMP. There is a proposal to hike it by 45% as it has not been done so for almost 9 years (3 blocks ), and this will be coupled with reclassification of “zone’s” depending on how developed the area has become and reworked “guidance value” in that area. So we are staring at 60% to more than 100% increase in certain areas.
CITIZENS’ ACTION FORUM (CAF) a not- for- profit initiative formed by a group of Resident Welfare Associations’ (RWAs’) and concerned citizens, civil society leaders, interested in bringing transparency and accountability by increasing citizen participation in matters of Governance through structured citizen participation. We decided to give a scientific and a judicious perspective to this issue.
We all understand that property taxes are necessary and crucial source of revenue for the city, but then please consider the glaring facts – Currently only around 55% of the properties in Bengaluru are covered under the tax net, from which only 45% actually pay.
Secondly other major sources of Revenue for BBMP to make the city work are not being tapped like the Revenue from Advertisement Hoardings which dot our skyline, the BBMP official in charge Mr Mathews himself has estimated the earning potential, from licensing advertisement across the city is estimated at Rs. 6500 crores. Which is amply demonstrated by the specific example, cited by him, is the Kempegowda International Airport (KIAL) earns atleast Rs.300.00 crores per annum as revenue from advertisements in it’s area, as against only 35 crores by BBMP in its collection from hoardings across Bengaluru, with 100 times the area available to BBMP, for leasing out to hoardings.
Another bleeding point is rental and lease agreements which are decades old for more than 3000 BBMP owned properties which can yield atleast 2500 crores. Plus 6000 crores of “devolution of funds” must be done as mandated by the 74th constitutional amendment, totally the potential comes to a whopping 20000.00 crores. Which effectively means BBMP has funds to ensure better roads, better sanitation, better solid waste management, good medical care, better infrastructure for government schools in the city…so we from CAF met with the Honourable Mayor of Bengaluru, submitted our arguments, who gave us a patient hearing and promised that our views will be incorporated before a final decision is taken..we also had a press conference, last week communicating this to a larger audience..and if more Bengalureans, who are paying taxes also put forth their views it will be heard as BBMP is accepting them now.
RECOVERY OF 6 ACRES OF LAND AT CHIKALLASANDRA LAKE BED
CAF played a pivotal role recently in recovery of 6 acres of land, post collecting relevant information & gave a complaint to the Upa-Lokayukta. There was a hearing, post- which the Upa-Lokayukta’s enquiry, he ordered clearance of encroachment; the local Tahasildar was able to recover the encroached land. BMTF was involved in clearing the encroachment but our pressure did make a big difference in recovering public property.
LOBBIED FOR CLEAN GOVERNANCE AND OBJECTED TO BBMP TRIFURCATION
Strong advocacy objecting linking BBMP trifurcation with BBMP council elections which we believe will form an impediment to have a functional MPC and ward committees. We met with Shri Siddaramaiah and apprised him of our apprehensions and sought BBMP council elections on time and also sought a white paper. We also reached out to the media through a well attended press conference. BBMP TRIFURCATION: As we saw the futility of the exercise in curbing corruption, we objected to it by meeting with the Honourable Chief Minister. We also held a press conference which was a success as our opinion was carried widely. We also then met with the Honble. Governor who assured us that citizens’ concerns not to trifurcate Bangalore will be heard and before deciding on consent to the bill, he will SURELY consider it which we saw when he turned it down, the first time around and second time forwarded it to the Honourable President.
ADVOCACY WITH BBMP ON AUDIT
In the above context we also gave a representation BBMP to seek an audit of bbmp accounts which are elusive.
Shri T Vidyadhar MC MEMBER OF CAF say’s
“I wanted to work for Army and wear uniforms. When I had some issues within 2 years of joining HMT, I walked to Army Office near Mayo Hall and passed rigorous physical tests ( only 2 out of 40 were selected ) to join Emergency Services as Indo china war was going on. I could not join as I had bond with HMT. After dedicated 25 years of service in HMT I was selected for the best job that I never dreamt that is RM of HMT Internationals in USA, to promote CNC Machines. After 32 years in HMT I am committed to work as a volunteer for social work since 2007 ever since i moved to R.T.Nagar area.
During 1978. I joined Civil defense during late 2010.Thanks to Cheryl, a lady from Army family who influenced me to join CD. Apart from other CIVIC activities and social ACTIVISM, I am focused on building a team and my activities of CD has only increased .Result is medal from Govt with a uniform that I wanted to wear for a long time. Just sharing my mini story having won Chief Minister’s medal presented by Dr Parameshwara,Home Minister on 20th April 2016 .
TCS -10K run where Senior citizens too ran/walked 4.2 KM
CAF CHARTER FOR BBMP ELECTIONS – A DISCUSSION AND GETTING ALL THE CANDIDATES TO SIGN IT WARD NO 27
Protest against the KMC (Amdt.) Act & newly gazetted rules on Ward Committees & Area Sabhas –
Nov 26, 2014
Citizens’ Action Forum (CAF), ALONGWITH CIVIC, BRACE- NBF, Abhyudaya Foundation, APD, Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, Environment Support Group (ESG), Eeshanya Maha Vedike (Federation of NERWA), FORWARD Hebbal, Koogu Mahila Okkuta, Society for People’s Action for Development (SPAD), VV Nagar Abhyudaya, Whitefield Rising LEAD BY sHRI DORESWAMY staged a protest at the city’s Town hall against the KMC (Amdt.) Act & newly gazetted rules on Ward Committees & Area Sabhas
CAF AND PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION’S
1) Akrama pil revival: we have revived our struggle and are seeking complete quashing of the unjust akrama sakrama.
2) Co-petitoners for the PIL that sought plugging loopholes of MPC and fixing hierarchy in comparison with parastatals.
3) Bellandur case – Our high court PIL stands withdrawn due to ngt case being pursued with caf playing a pivotal role.
4) Challenging PPP of Mantri with BMRCL;
COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPEMENT PLAN:
PUBLIC HEARING CDP – CAF has followed up on COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN (CDP) by attending the public hearing and putting across our objections to the farce.
CIVIC NEWSAPP A JOINT INITIATIVE
where an android app has been developed and we conducted an online and on-ground survey to seek people’s opinion on their priorities in their ward. We have reached out to 1,20,000 people and 16% of them participated and completed the survey. We held press conference to announce the launch and results. This app will continue to function to ensure accountability post elections.
Our first major campaign was in the realm of Electoral reforms in association with other civil society organisations namely PAC, CIVIC, KKNSS & Swabhimana. We had the support of former CEX of India Sri T N Seshan and Retired Chief Justice of India Sri M N Venkatachaliah. We were able to invite leaders of major political parties for big public meetings, and also had assembly constituency level meetings with all the contesting candidates coming together on a common platform to address the concerns of the citizens with respect to Electoral Expenses and programmes for their constituencies.
FUTURE COURSE OF ACTION
We intend to hold campaigns to continue focus on electoral reforms year on year and next year if the BBMP ELECTIONS are held, we will have an advocacy campaign to bring pressure on the political parties to follow transparent norms in the selection of candidates and try to persuade the major political parties to select about 25% of the total number of constituencies and strictly observe the limits on election expenses, select honest candidates and implement the citizens’ charter in these constituencies.
The committee was set up by the Government of Karnataka to suggest a suitable Governance structure for BBMP. Our major demand was that the Committee should come out with their responses to the various objections we had raised and make it available in the Public Domain.
FUTURE COURSE OF ACTION
CAF which will demand transparency from civic agencies and committees setup to look into Bengaluru issues and elected representatives henceforth.
GoK came out with SAKRAMA BILL to regularise all unauthorised buildings in the urban areas of the state by levying a penalty and they justified this illegality by stating this was to augment the dwindling resources of BBMP. Unfortunately in their haste to raise resources the Govt proposed a very defective bill which would result in creating more problems than it solved. For example it proposed to levy penalties on the owners who had violated the provisions but never sought to punish the officers of BBMP and the builders who had connived with the officials. We organised an intensive interaction attended by more than 600 citizens and many politicians and authorities where we presented the problems with the proposed legislation. However the Government went ahead with the introduction of the bill without any amendments and passed the same. Hence we decided take legal recourse. One of our member organisations ABHYUDAYA which is a federation of RWAs of Padmanabhanagar filed a PIL in the High Court of Karnataka and successfully obtained a stay against the implementation of the SAKRAMA scheme. The stay is still operative and the GOK is yet to file its counter affidavit.
FUTURE COURSE OF ACTION
We are following the amendments to the KTCP rules to ensure sakrama does not happens through the backdoor., We will take this fight to a logical conclusion as we believe this regularisation will seriously affect quality of Bengaluru and at same time ignore “neighbours consent” requirement as per law.
SUCCESSFULLY ENSURED THAT GOK DROPS THE “CAPITAL VALUE SYSTEM FOR ASSESSING THE PROPERTY TAXES IN BANGALORE”
CAF took up a massive campaign for almost a year and was successful in persuading the Government to drop the proposal of introducing the CVS system and revert to the earlier ARV system under self assessment scheme. It was a major victory for CAF. We opposed any hike in the tax rate and instead suggested that BBMP should bring in all the properties under its net and increase the collection instead of taxing the honest tax payer.
FUTURE COURSE OF ACTION
It is common knowledge that even today the coverage of property tax payers is not more than 60% of all the properties in Bengaluruangalore. We will hold BBMP accountable and seek streamlining of revenue collections, granting trade licence, taxing all the advertisement hoardings and realising market value for all their properties scattered across the city.
We had also made one significant suggestion that since BengaluruBangalore contributes more than 60% of the total revenue of the State, the Government should devolve at least 10% of this collection, which amounts to more than Rs.50,000.00 crores per annum, to BBMP to enable the planning and implementation of the required infrastructure for our city. The Government is yet to seriously consider this and implement it.