Pune is the only city in India with a functional Participatory Budgeting Process. This means we as citizens of Pune, we can give suggestion to the corporation for the work that needs to be taken up for our locality. If you’re as new to this process as I was when the term ‘Participatory Budgeting’ fist came to my notice, here is a little insight into the process.
What is it all about?
The participatory budget was introduced in 2006 as an effort to increase public participation in the budgetary and developmental process in the city. Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process which enables the citizens to decide how to spend a part of the public budget. It is an opportunity for citizens to give suggestions to the corporation for works to be taken up for their locality in the succeeding financial year.
This enables citizens to give suggestions for civil works like construction of footpaths, roads, roadside drains, public toilets and installing of street lights in the area to the civic body.
How it works
Participatory budgeting generally involves several basic steps:
- Community members identify spending priorities and select budget delegates.
- Budget delegates develop specific spending proposals, with the help of experts.
- Community members vote on which proposals to fund.
- The city or institution implements the top proposals.
The Pune Municipal Corporation has divided the city in a prabhag. Each prabhag gets a total of Rs. 50 lacs as the allotted sum towards Participatory Budgeting. Each work should not exceed a sum of Rs. 5 lacs. Citizens are to give suggestions accordingly. A total of 38 crore is allocated for 76 prabhags towards participatory budgeting. The suggestions are taken into consideration by the civic body and works in the particular area are started accordingly.
In India, a village called Hiware Bazar has served as an epitome of the process. The village being highly deplete with water, education and basic needs for life at one point, is now self-sufficient with a high per capita income. Arvind Kejriwal, the national conveyor of Aam Aadmi Party is trying to introduce the concept of participatory budgeting in the whole country. In 2001, Bangalore became the first city in India to implement participatory budgeting due to efforts by a local NGO, Janaagraha. The campaign resulted in citizens’ budget priorities being approved in over 20% of the city’s wards but as time passed, the concept lost its ground in the city. Currently, Pune is the only city that is doing so.
It is to be noted that New York City’s annual budget is approximately $ 50 billion and the allocation towards participatory budgeting is $ 10 million; whereas Pune Municipal Corporation’s annual budget is Rs 4,167.5 crore and the allocation towards participatory budgeting is 38 crore, a much higher proportion than New York City. Even though New York City allocates a much lesser share of its budget towards participatory budgeting, the proportion of participation by the citizens is much higher than Pune and knowledge management on the process and results is commendable.
While the initial years saw a lot of enthusiasm among citizens, the participation graph has been declining since the past few years. The first time it was introduced in the city and it attracted a massive response from the citizens as well as the city-based NGOs –Janwani, NSCC, CEE, Nagrik Chetna Manch amongst others. Participatory budgeting for the year 2012-13 in Pune witnessed only 600 suggestions from the citizens, for a city with a population of over 3.5 million people. This shows we are going the Banglore way. Soon, the project may be scrapped off just like it was for the city we are always compared with in the race for being the IT Capital of India. The Punekar appeals to its citizens to actively participate in the Budgeting process.
How you can help
With the purpose of engaging citizens in the participatory budgeting process for 2013-14, Janwani, the social wing of Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries & Agriculture, took the initiative to promote and facilitate the process with the support and guidance of Pune Municipal Corporation. If required, any residential society or corporate company in Pune that wish to organize a Participatory Budgeting workshop for their organization can approach Janwani and they will conduct the workshop free of cost.
As a citizen, You can collect the participatory budgeting form from the ward office in your area or download it from http://www.punecorporation.org/pmcwebn/informpdf/budget/Participatary_Budget_2014-2015_Form.pdf. To fill the form online, visit www.punecorporation.org and click on E-application Participatory budget 2014-15 option on the Home page.
The last date to submit your suggestions is September 09, 2013. Hope you do the needful Punekars.