The Madhya Pradesh (MP) government approved a policy regarding Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) in the state. These are registered voluntary civic associations representing the interests of the residents of a specific urban neighborhood and include registered housing societies. The policy draft was prepared by the Centre of Urban Governance (CUG), a vertical of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Good Governance and Policy Analysis, Bhopal (AIGGPA).
This approach characterizes how RWAs in MP can supplement and complement the endeavors of the Urban Local bodies (ULBs) in making urban areas versatile, mindful, and capable. As it expresses, the arrangement tries to “extend majority rules system” and “make urbanites an accomplice of comprehensive metropolitan turn of events”. The strategy further looks to smooth out and normalize the way of enlistment of RWAs, their standards, bye-laws, and guidelines. It gives a standard administration approach by recommending a formal redressal component in inner and outside debates.
The policy proposes an effective mechanism, preferably an e-platform, through which an RWA can circulate and disseminate critical information to all its residents. To enable the elements of participative democracy, the policy stipulates that all the resident members of the RWAs, whether an owner or a tenant, shall be allowed to attend the society meetings. However, it would be the owners whose opinion would count for issues concerning property. In issues that impinge on the quality of services, the views of owners and tenants would get equal weightage. It would be incumbent on the RWAs to make information related to bylaws, rules, regulations, events/activities, and minutes of the meetings accessible. A No Objection Certificate (NOC) shall be required from the RWA by the property owner at the time of selling his property. In this regard, an application shall be submitted to the RWA by the property owner. Within 15 days from the date of application, after following due procedure, an RWA shall issue the NOC.
The RWAs are charged with the responsibility of the following functions within their campus:
- The primary collection of solid waste and its management
- Management of drains and drainage
- Maintenance of streetlights
- Maintenance of parks and boundary walls
- Road works including construction, maintenance, and restoration
- General beautification of the campus
- Safety and security of society as well as security guards
- Management of proper parking (reserved/visitors’) within the society
- Other necessary and integral functions of society
It would be incumbent on the RWAs to make information related to bylaws, rules, regulations, events/activities, and minutes of the meetings accessible.
The strategy asks the RWAs to urge the inhabitants to take part in the public eye’s overall working and administration. RWAs will likewise guarantee that no infringement is done in the normal spaces of the general public, and the equivalent is available to each individual from the general public. RWAs will get monetary help from the state government under applicable plans according to requirements and need. RWAs will enlist, keep up with, and keep the records of the homegrown laborers, sweepers, safety officers, handymen, electrical technicians, and landscapers working inside the RWAs. RWAs will put forth attempts to foster an arrangement of e-deciding in favor of RWA races and dynamic in the public arena. The workplace conveyors will have a term of two years, after which another gathering of individuals will assume control over society the executives.
Eswachh Integrated solution works very closely with RWA’s and ULBs in Solid waste management. Eswachh has expertise in Door-to-door collection, Segregation, Composting, and Resource Recovery. Eswachh has patent applied for a Waste collection management system, Vertical Composting and Cure-VS Serum.
The most significant power proposed to be handed over to the RWAs is that for development works such as roads, streetlights, and footpaths in the RWAs and it would be the RWAs who would have the power to select the agency for the concerned work. Equally significant is the provision that the ULBs shall involve RWAs in preparing the Local Area Plan (LAP). The RWAs shall be engaged in the master plan preparation by the Town & Country Planning Department. Here, the policy intends to give space beyond that afforded by any current piece of municipal legislation. Currently, under planning statutes in the country, plans prepared by ULBs are published as a draft to which those concerned could raise objections or make suggestions. Ab initio citizen consultations are for the first time sought to be provided through this policy.
The most significant power proposed to be handed over to the RWAs is that for development works such as roads, streetlights, and footpaths in the RWAs and it would be the RWAs who would have the power to select the agency for the concerned work.
The issue of citizen’s direct partnership in the affairs of the city in which they live was sidelined by the Constitution (74th ) Amendment Act. The focus of that amendment was to empower the ULBs. It was brought to life much later as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) reform agenda in 2005, by which the Government of India (GoI) advised the states to consider enactment of the JNNURM’s Model Nagar Raj Bill.
The key organizational entity to emerge out of the Nagar Raj Bill was the Area Sabha and was defined as “the body of all the persons registered in the electoral rolls pertaining to every polling booth in the Area, in a Municipality”. The avowed intention was to “institutionalize citizens’ participation in municipal functions”. This went beyond what the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act sought to achieve. In trying to get the states to implement this bill, the GoI made the enactment of this community participation law a precondition for other stipulated reforms. It tied the disbursement of JNNURM funds to the adoption of this bill.
Despite the effort of the GoI, the states chose to skillfully disregard the provisions of the Nagar Raj Bill. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) documented this in 2010 in a report on Area Sabhas prepared for the Ministry of Urban Development. TERI reported that while 12 states enacted a community participation law, they diverged from the guidelines of the Nagar Raj Bill and effectually side-stepped citizen involvement in the decision-making process of ULBs. It must, however, be said that the bill had its weaknesses. A genuine concern of the states was that the Nagar Raj Bill appeared to drown the ULB in organizational overload.
TERI reported that while 12 states enacted a community participation law, they diverged from the guidelines of the Nagar Raj Bill and effectually side-stepped citizen involvement in the decision-making process of ULBs.
The RWA policy of the MP government wishes to traverse further than what the Nagar Raj Bill proposed. It is true that several Western democratic countries have taken citizens’ empowerment in the affairs of their cities much further than what the MP policy seeks. The MP government ought to be given the credit that it proposes shifting the goal post much more towards the citizens than hitherto attempted in certain significant areas. While the policy has been approved by the state government, which is very laudable, the real test would be in giving the policy statutory teeth. We have seen how states pulled their feet back in the case of the Nagar Raj Bill.
In some cases, even enacted legislation was virtually put on hold through the route of non-notification of the date that would put the law in motion. The approval of the policy by the MP government shows admirable governmental intent. It is the enactment of the law and its actual implementation that would reveal true resolve.