Parivartan report card: Jute bag distribution top priority of elected leaders in Pune
Following the plastic ban imposed by the state government in 2018, most corporators gave priority to the purchase and distribution of jute and cloth-bags (Rs11.31 crore), besides drainage works (Rs15.31 crore) while spending ward-level funds over the past five years, according to a report card of elected representatives prepared by Pune-based NGO, Parivartan, for the period between 2017 and March 31, 2021.
Earlier, priority was given to the provision of benches along with drainage works but this time around, benches were replaced by jute- and cloth- bags in the wake of the plastic ban imposed by the state government.
The report card was prepared by Parivartan based on responses received from all 15 ward offices of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and on information shared by the municipal commissioner.
Tanmay Kanitkar, co-founder of Parivartan, said, “Earlier, benches were a favourite among elected members but during this term, corporators have given priority to distributing jute- and cloth- bags. It is interesting to see where they distributed all these bags.”
“Ward-level funds are typically meant for prioritising citizens’ work. There is a provision in law to call a sabha (citizens’ meeting), place the facts before it and take suggestions. Despite follow-ups however, no such meeting was called. It shows that the demand for jute bags is not from the citizens but the elected members have taken the initiative on their own,” Kanitkar said.
A majority of corporators also spent the maximum funds on repairing or replacing drainage lines in their wards. A former elected member said, “If the roads get dug up, there are drainage pipes all over the city. It is the easiest way to indulge in corruption as there is no auditing it. Looking at the pattern of spending on drainage works, for the last two to three decades, drainage work is right at the top of the list every year.”
Another elected member pointed out that recently, a question was raised in the general body meeting as to why there were only chambers set up in Bhavani peth. “There were no drainage lines but only chambers. Instead of laying drainage lines, only chambers had been set up everywhere and charges were being recovered for laying the drainage lines,” the corporator said on condition of anonymity.
As per the report card prepared by Parivartan, this trend was common among elected members from all parties.
Indraneel Sadalage, president, Parivartan, said, “There is a need to carry out a social audit whether the work was really carried out on ground or not.”
“Parivartan prepared the first report card in 2012 and the intention was to help voters understand their elected representatives and help them choose the right candidate. We also prepare the report cards of MPs and MLAs,” he said.
How elected members utilised the ward development fund
Elected members’ attendance in general body meetings
Asking questions to administration is the key to keeping control; written questions raised by elected members in the general body meeting
Criminal background of members but Parivartan did not get this data