With elections to the municipal corporations inching closer, the Aam Aadmi Party government is going full throttle with its plan to reach the grassroot workers in the 272 wards of the Capital. While it is pulling out all stops to make its key tool – ‘Mohalla Sabhas’ – appealing to the ‘aam aadmi’, a growing sense of alienation clouds the city's Residents' Welfare Associations (RWAs) as they rue of never being consulted for the project.

Trying to prepare a robust structure under the 'Swaraj' model, the government has come out with a detailed district and Assembly constituency wise list of mohalla sabhas. The 2,972 Mohallas are going to be spread across 11 districts and 70 constituencies with each one having a unique 'Mohalla ID Number'.

On deeper observation it emerges that the number of Mohallas given to a constituency has been based on the voting population of the area. Each of these mohallas has been mapped with the nearest polling booths in the respective constituency.

“Every district is going to have anywhere between 250-270 mohallas and if counted constituency wise then there shall be around 35-70 mohallas in each Assembly. With a mammoth 83 mohallas, South-West district's Matiala constituency is the biggest of the pack,” said a senior official.

Pressure builds
The pressure to urgently start the ambitious project on ground is seemingly visible in the urban development department and the District Urban Development Agencies (DUDA). The biggest challenge in their hands at present is appointing a staggering 5944 'Mohalla Coordinators' and 'Co-coordinators'.

While the work has to be voluntary, the government plans to offer each coordinator Rs. 5,000 per month to meet transportation and other expenses. The eligibility has been kept rather simple, yet technology driven. The applicant must be a registered voter as on 11.01.16 and a resident of the Mohalla being represented. Besides, s/he must have an Android phone and working knowledge of computers/emails.

“Mohalla Sabhas will be held once a month and the coordinators' role is most important as they will have to prepare the agenda, conduct door-to-door outreach programs to note the issues to be taken up, attend meetings with DUDA and so on,” the official explained.

While others may find the system of 'grassroot democracy' appealing, the RWAs are fearing their very existence. “No RWA was consulted for the entire Mohalla Sabha process. How do they plan to choose what work is to be done with public meetings where around 4000 people turn up. If a ward has say15 colonies, then 15 or 30 people – one or two from the RWA of each colony – are enough to decide upon works to be carried out,” said Atul Goyal, convenor of United RWAs Joint Action (URJA) – an umbrella body for about 500 RWAs in the Capital.

We are not against the idea of Mohalla Sabhas, but we wanted it to be more structured. One that would involve RWAs and not alienate them, he added. Several others have questioned the AAP government about its promise to bring an RWA Act.

“The AAP before coming to power had promised in its manifesto of bringing an RWA Act to them legal sanctity. They spoke of empowerment of RWAs, but nothing seems to have happened. They are dismantling the topography of a colony this way,” said B S Vohra of East Delhi RWAs Joint Front.

with thanks : The Hindu : LINK