The overall performance of the city’s elected representatives dropped over the previous year, according to Praja Foundation’s report card for 2020 on municipal councillors released on Tuesday. The overall performance of 220 corporators went down from 60.2 per cent in 2018-19 to 55.7 per cent in 2019-20.
The report judges the corporators’ performance in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) every financial year. This year’s report was from April 2019 to March 2020, before the Covid19-related restrictions shut down the corporation’s political activities.
The report card includes all corporators except the mayor. This year, out of the 227 elected representatives, the report card has ranked 220 corporators, excluding current Mayor Kishori Pednekar, Vishwanath Mahadeshwar, who was holding the post of Mayor till November 2019 and five others who were suspended or died during the assessment year.
The corporators are judged on their education qualification, attendance in the general body meeting and committee meetings, the number of questions they asked, the importance of and quality of questions, and their usage of area development fund and criminal record.
There are 13 committees, where the elected representatives can raise issues related to services like roads, drainage, water supply and also subjects not directly under the purview of the BMC like crime, agriculture among others. Out of the 13 committees, general body meeting is the one which has all the 227 corporators as members and is scheduled every month.
The standing committee, which has 27 corporators as members and approves and allocates funds required for various projects, is held every week.
The report found that the questions raised by the corporators in the various committees were not consistent with the complaints raised by citizens. A total of 2,270 questions were asked by the corporators in all the 13 committee meetings including general body. Out of the 2,270 queries, only 63 were related to drainage issues. However, the highest number of complaints by citizens registered with the civic body through helpline number, letters, email was about drainage issues at 23,780.
In all, 326 questions raised by the corporators were related to road repairs, potholes, missing links, while renaming of roads, traffic junctions, railway stations were the second most important issue raised by the corporators at 253. “90 per cent councillors (199) scored less than 50 per cent when complaints made by citizens were correlated to the questions raised by councillors in 2019-20,” stated the report.
“The quality of questions raised by councillors has also been poor, only 12% of total 2,270 questions in 2019-20 were raised on water, sanitation and solid waste management, while 7% were raised on health. This highlights poorly the deliberative focus of councillors on issues that most affect citizens”, said Milind Mhaske, Director, Praja Foundation.
The report card found councillors’ attendance lowest in this year’s report compared to all three of this term (2017-2022). The average score for attendance has fallen to 72.6% in 2020 from 80.7% in 2018 and 77.6% in 2019. The report also found that three corporators have not asked a single question in their current term i.e. since 2017.
While the corporators in the civic body have welcomed the report card, in the past BMC has accused the foundation of distortion of facts. “Praja is doing an excellent job in training as well as watching the performance of the corporators in the civic body. The report card is holding the political party and corporators accountable,” said Ravi Raja, Congress corporator and opposition leader in the BMC.
Praja Foundation is working in the field of accountability in governance. Since 2011, it has conducted training programmes for the councillors — on how to ask questions regarding BMC’s functioning, on how budgets are made and how funds are allocated to corporators. The foundation has brought out elected representatives’ report card since 2011 starting from Mumbai and since then has published 22 reports in Mumbai and Delhi.
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