The Logical Indian is the goodness partners with B.PAC( Bangalore Political action committee) who are celebrating Good Governance initiatives by elected representatives and bureaucrats which has helped improve citizens life. Through this, we are hoping to inspire others to follow them and help make the citizens lives more comfortable.
It has been more than a year since Sowmya Reddy became a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of Jayanagar Constituency in Bengaluru. The only woman MLA from Bengaluru, Sowmya’s approach towards factors such as waste segregation and communication with residents of her constituency has been a priority. As a part of the Good Governance Series in association with B.PAC, The Logical Indian decided to interview Sowmya.
What roles can citizens play in making delivery of Government Services better?
India has some of the best laws regarding citizen participation in policy implementation and one example of this is the Ward Committee setup which can help in facilitating the development of a particular ward. People also need to join hands together, from pourakarmikas (civic sanitation workers) to corporators, to make sure that work is carried out with ease. (A Ward Committee consists of civilians and resident welfare association groups who assist civic officials in deciding the functioning of a certain ward.)
What are the measures you have taken for the residents of your constituency to reach out to you?
Personally, I feel that everyone has a voice which needs to be heard out. Hence I keep my office open every day at 10 AM to listen out to the complaints and demands of people. Moreover, I reach out to people on social media as well and also has a phone helpline number which people can call on to reach out to my office.
I make it a point to attend joint committee meetings whenever possible at municipal offices such as BBMP, BWSSB, etc. and speaks to authorities who brief me on the issues. I also go on field visits to monitor the implementation of work.
What are the efforts you have taken in your constituency to enforce the ban on plastic?
The segregation of plastic waste has reached from 60 per cent to 90 per cent in both Jayanagar and BTM Constituencies. For over two years, people are being made aware of the ban through public outreach literature as well as programs. Officials also go on the field to check if vendors are using plastic bags, and keep updating me on the fine amount which is collected if they are found violating the rule.
They even go back to check if vendors are abiding by the rules. Many establishments in Jayanagar have shifted to other alternatives such as cloth or paper bags over plastic bags. Resident Welfare Associations were also instrumental in mobilising this ban. We even got an award by the German Government for converting the wet waste segregated into biogas and using it in a restaurant and plan to implement something similar soon.
Solid Waste is usually a subject of the Municipal Corporation, but you have taken up the responsibility as an MLA. Could you elaborate on it?
Nothing can be implemented until and unless people are on the same page. One example can be penalising people for using plastic bags. Everyone believes that Bengaluru should be clean, and to make this a reality, we have got corporators, officials and even residents on board. Some residents have been doing composting for a long time. At the end of the day, where then is a will, there is away.
I have also been working closely with residents and local organisations who have gone house to house to spread awareness about waste segregation and composting. People want to follow composting practices but at the same time, they are not able to do so because of a lack of resources such as space. Hence, we plan to organise a compost Santhe (fair) where people can come and compost their waste. People could come and compost their wet waste, including leftover food in it. I have also spoken to owners of wedding halls and restaurants with regard to composting.
As an elected representative, is there anything you are specifically doing for women and marginalised communities since you are vocal about their issues?
Transgenders face problems especially while searching for employment and housing due to the social stigma. The government is trying to set up a transgender board for the benefit and welfare of transgenders. The Karnataka Government has already introduced schemes for the betterment of women and other minority groups in terms of gender or even caste.
The previous government under CM Siddaramaiah has introduced the Mythri Pension, a pension scheme for transgender women who earn less than 17000 a month in urban areas. Assistance has also been provided for Self Help Groups where such people are given vocational training, such as training for electricians and plumbers.
Recently, the Airavatha Scheme has also been introduced to provide subsidies to SC/ST people to buy cars for commercial use and get training from Ola and Uber for the same. There is no limitation to gender as women and transgenders can also apply for the same. I have conducted two job fairs so far in my constituency of which one job fair was held exclusively for women. I have even used my MLA funds for improving government schools, and have also geld career counselling in schools for children.
Do you have a message or a call for action for citizens?
It is my request to people in the city to engage with authorities and people who have roles allocated from the municipal corporations and similar bodies, such as pourakarmikas. We can find out the kind of issues they are dealing with so that we can understand their problems and connect with each other. This will help residents understand the demands and issues of these workers which could help in making work smooth. A positive attitude is also required for this and if all of us are ready to work with each other, we will be able to transform the city as well as come out with solutions to make the quality of life better in Bengaluru.