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Delhi’s RWAs could get far more power if Kejriwal has his way

CM promises to give bodies status of ‘mini-councillors’ if AAP wins MCD polls

Delhi Chief Minister and AAP Convener Arvind Kejriwal greets supporters during a door-to-door election campaign for the upcoming MCD elections, at Chirag Delhi in New Delhi, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Tuesday that Resident Welfare Associations in the capital will be given the status of ‘mini-councillors’ if the Aam Aadmi Party is voted to power.

In Delhi, RWAs are a phenomenon of gated colonies and are elected by homeowners. They are responsible for security arrangements, beautification and greening of public areas and managing control of community halls and spaces.

“If voted into power, AAP will launch a scheme called Janta Chalayegi MCD. Presently, to get any work done, people have to run after leaders from pillar to post. Under this scheme, this system will end. Now, the people will make decisions and the government will work for them. Under this scheme, an RWA will be given mini-parshad (councillor) status; they will be given all power to address the issues of their locality. Funds will be allocated to the RWAs,” Kejriwal said.

The move is politically significant as RWAs hold sway in the city’s planned, authorised areas, especially in DDA colonies.

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What are the contours of the scheme?

While senior party leaders said that a step-by-step roadmap of the scheme is not ready yet, it will entail RWAs being in touch with their area MLAs regarding any work that is to be done inside the society.

RWAs will tell the MLA about their problems and coordinate with them, government officials said. Depending on the work, MLAs will allocate money to RWAs using their MLALAD fund of Rs 4 crore per year.

“Once the project is discussed and sanctioned, the RWA will have to ensure that it is executed in a time-bound manner and a report is submitted to the MLA. A fund cap for each RWA has not been decided yet,” said an official.

What kind of work can RWAs seek money for?

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RWAs, which charge maintenance or development charges from residents, can approach MLAs for work regarding internal roads, beautification of parks and common areas, cleanliness and other issues such as sewer and water. Maintenance of internal roads, parks and cleanliness come under the jurisdiction of civic bodies.

“Our main aim is to make the people of Delhi leaders. People should be the councillor and CM in the state. Governance will be handed over to the public, they will run the government through RWAs,” Kejriwal said on Tuesday.

What was the need for a new system?

According to officials, councillors would not be able to act on hundreds of requests from residents in their wards and RWAs would act as helping hands. “Councillors may not be able to handle all the complaints. The fund allocated to them (around Rs 50 lakh) is also far less than that for MLAs and that has to be used for small streets and roads in their area, cleanliness, and other civic issues. This scheme will give people a direct line with the MLA,” said an official.

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Asked about setting accountability and answerability, Kejriwal said, “A proper system will be set up both online and offline. It will be completely transparent.”

This is not the first time the government has tied up with resident associations.

In 2003, the then Sheila Dikshit government had launched the Bhagidari scheme with RWAs, wherein Dikshit would attend web meetings with them, alongside government officials where grievances were raised and addressed. The initiative won the 2005 UN Public Service award.

Over the years, however, it fizzled out and stopped once the Congress government was voted out in 2013.

First published on: 29-11-2022 at 18:53 IST
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