The deadline for citizens to send in their ideas for the civic body’s budget ended on Wednesday night.
For five days, citizens from across the city wrote emails and posted on social media, spelling out what they thought should be the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s spending priorities.
Read more: Budget participation done right
The civic standing committee chairman Yashodhar Phanse said the counting of ideas received will begin on Thursday. Phanse said he would also decide on the way ahead. “We will do a count and also decide the perfect way in which we can review these ideas. We need to figure out which of these ideas can be implemented,” Phanse said.
The Hindustan Times had, starting February 1, carried a series of articles demanding citizens be allowed to have a say in the way in which the civic body spends its money.
HT had highlighted how cities across the world have engaged in ‘participatory budgeting’, a concept in which citizens directly select the projects they wish to see take shape, especially in their neighbourhood.
Following the stories, Phanse had agreed to open up the process and even announced two email IDs for citizens to write in with their ideas. Citizens, meanwhile, said they hoped the process will be regularly followed by the civic body.
““We hope the BMC takes the cue from this campaign and makes it an annual affair. In fact, it should follow this concept of participation not just for the budget but for all major projects it carries out. Citizens are direct stakeholders in every civic project and they must be consulted,” said Vora,” said GR Vora, an activist, who wrote to the civic body with his suggestions on the budget.
On Tuesday, Dr Amita Bhide, Dean of School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) had also pressed for the civic body to create better institutional structures to ensure participatory budgeting takes off.
“Citizens making demands from the budget and sending their ideas is one thing but those demands have to be factored in and taken seriously by the civic body. What are the processes that the civic body follows for such a thing to function smoothly — are they willing to take hearings in the future? They must draw up such structures,” she said.
What is Participatory Budgeting?
Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a concept through which citizens have the power to decide how public money must be spent and on what.
Through this, citizens have the direct chance to vote for the kind of projects they want to see taking shape.
While it was started as a way to ensure local governments became more accountable, the concept spread to other institutions as well.
As a result, even universities, colleges and localities started carrying out such exercises to determine the best
way to spend public money.