If you have a civic complaint that has remained unresolved despite repeated appeals to your elected representative, a study by the NGO Praja Foundation may explain why. The study found that just 29.1% – less than a third – of questions asked by corporators in various meetings had to do with civic complaints lodged by citizens. This finding was among the highlights of the annual ‘report card’ on corporators’ performance released on Monday by Praja Foundation, which works towards accountability in governance. It has been rating corporators’ performances since 2011.
The study, conducted between April 2014 and March 2015, also found that a whopping 127 of 220 corporators (almost 60%) asked fewer than 10 questions in the entire year; nine corporators (4%) didn’t ask even one. This list excluded mayor Snehal Ambekar, Sunil Prabhu (who was mayor till August 2014) and five others who had been suspended.
The dearth of questions did not reflect a lack of opportunity to speak; the BMC has 13 separate committees in which corporators can raise questions. Two of these – the ward committee and the general body meeting – have all 227 corporators as members.
Based on its findings the study graded each corporator’s performance on factors such as the number and quality of questions they asked, their criminal record, and how accessible they were to citizens, among others.
There were some positives in the report. Corporators’ awareness and accessibility scores jumped from 35% in 2013-14 to 52% in 2014-15. And for the first time, the top-ranked corporator received an ‘A’ grade (80-100 in percentage terms).
However, overall average scores fell slightly to 58.09% from 59.41% last year.
Nitai Mehta, managing trustee, Praja Foundation, said, “The increase in awareness and accessibility can be accounted to the fact that the assessment year was an election year, which may have resulted in more candidates visiting their constituencies. Hopefully this improvement won’t be restricted to election years.”