Haryana: Residents to now have say in local governance

  • Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times, Karnal
  • Updated: Jul 13, 2015 08:38 IST

Aimed at encouraging decentralisation of civic powers, the non-elected residents will now be empanelled in decision-making committees in all municipal corporations (MCs) of Haryana.

According to sources, proactive citizens will be part of official committees to look after local issues pertaining from clean environment in their wards to assess the working of private contractors engaged in development works and finalising e-tendering on merit of all projects.

Also, the nominated members from the civil society will play a role to impart awareness on matters of public interest, to promote harmony and unity and arrange cultural festivals.

Haryana presently has ten MCs, while the newly announced local body at Sonepat is yet to be formulated.

At a meeting held here with municipal commissioners of nine bodies early this week, RK Khullar, special principal secretary to chief minister, had directed all municipal commissioners to effectively start implementing the Haryana Municipal Community Participation (HMCP) Act, 2008, which has been lying defunct since its inception.

Committees, comprising of elected councillors and residents will not only prepare development plans for their wards, but these welfare programmes will be subjected to social audit by the committee members from diverse backgrounds.

"It's true that the respective political regimes in the last seven years have hardly done anything to implement the act. The act offers opportunities to the non-elected residents to work with the government in assuring transparency through community participation," a senior functionary of the department told HT.

The HMCP Act allows community participation at two levels- "area sabha" and "ward committees".

All citizens of a defined area or ward who are registered as voters are, by default, members of the "area sabha". There is a provision that wards with more than 10,000 people may be sub-divided into two area sabhas or more proportionate to the population.

The second opportunity for participation is at ward committee level, headed by the elected councillor of that ward. Councillor is the chairperson of the ward committee.

As per the act, other members -not less than three and not more than 10 persons- represent civil society as area sabha representatives.

Karnal municipal commissioner Sumedha Kataria said she had started working to implement the act. She said the community committees would be empowered to take final calls for approval of estimates, calling of tenders and allotment of works to the outsourced agencies.

"By using these opportunities, citizen participation can improve the performance and accountability of our municipalities. That should be the most important cause for active participation by citizens concerned, if not any other," she added.

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