Proper delimitation of areas under Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs), ensuring there is only a single RWA in a particular area, porta cabins for their offices and civil defence volunteers posted as security guards so associations don’t have to spend on guards — these were among the suggestions that RWA representatives presented to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday.
After Kejriwal’s announcement earlier this week that RWAs will be given ‘mini councillor’ status if the AAP is voted to power in the MCD, the party held a meeting with representatives of RWAs who made suggestions to the CM. According to MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, the meeting was for suggestions on empowerment of RWAs, since the “AAP believes RWAs are an administrative extension of the government and the MCD”, and is making a “blueprint” the same.
At the meeting, Kejriwal said the idea was to involve people directly in governance so that they don’t remain “mute spectators”.
After suggestions were presented, Kejriwal said, “The party’s philosophy is that governance mein janta ki seedhi bhagidari honi chahiye. The RWA will be like the councillor for a particular area. For work related to the area, the RWA will speak to the people and decide. And these decisions will be binding on the government in some way. There can be some limit… it can be monitored through a dashboard… For four-five RWAs together, maybe fumigation machines can be given by the government… there are many such things in which we can empower you (RWAs) directly.”
He added: “The idea is to include the people directly in governance so they don’t remain mute spectators or mute consumers of government decisions. …How it will be done, it is not right to get into the details now. It needs extensive consultations; this is a new idea.”
He said that the Delhi government had tried to introduce the concept of mohalla sabhas and 3,500 mohallas were created for this, but it was not possible without the MCD’s active participation.
Rajiv Kakariya from an RWA in Greater Kailash-1 told Kejriwal that there should be proper delimitation of RWAs and only one RWA should exist in an area, and every dwelling unit should compulsorily pay the membership subscription.
Shobhana Khanna of an RWA in Kalkaji Extension suggested that RWAs be given the power to fumigate areas themselves to deal with mosquitoes.
Rajesh Pawar, representing an apex body of 41 RWAs in Vasant Kunj, said, “Expenses are met through a monthly subscription. Main expenses go towards security guards for gates. A request is that civil defence volunteers be deployed as guards.” Pawar also recommended setting up porta cabins as offices for RWAs, provisions for funds for the RWA to celebrate festivals and to collect subscriptions from residents and ensure that there are no defaulters.
After the meeting, Kulbir Singh, a representative of an RWA in Malviya Nagar, said, “We can keep talking about what RWAs need. How we need to empower RWAs in a practical way needs to be policy based… what is the RWA’s limit and what is the government’s. Empowering is not wrong, but a blueprint is needed. It’s important to ensure that once an RWA complains about something, it is made an agenda and implemented.”
“Why can’t RWAs make money-related decisions?” asked CK Jain, representative of an RWA in Green Park Extension. Singh pointed out that each colony would have to have just one RWA for it to be able to make decisions on funds. Jain added: “These are baby steps and the implementation is not going to be easy. But if it works, it will be fantastic.”