Women councillors top performers in Mumbai corporation, finds watchdog

Given more seats with increase in quota, women in BMC prove they mean serious business, says report card by Praja Foundation

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Geetanjali Minhas | September 4, 2013




 A year after women’s representation in the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) was increased from 33 to 50 percent, women have emerged as the top performing corporators in the civic body.

A report by Praja Foundation says that seven out of 10 top ranking municipal councillors are female. Out of these seven, five belongs to Shiv Sena and one to BJP.

Releasing the report card for 226 (mayor has not been ranked) municipal councillors elected in February 2012  for MCGM, country’s richest municipal body, Nitai Mehta, the founder trustee of Praja Foundation said, “Clearly women elected representatives  are taking their roles and responsibilities far more seriously than their male counterparts.”

The report card reveals that only one out of the total 227 municipal corprators asked more than 50 questions in the entire year. Whereas there are 13 councillors who have not asked even a single question and 17 of them asked just one question during the entire year.

Also, 118 councillors asked less than 10 questions during the entire year.

(See the full report card – in English and marathi – attached as padf file at the end of the story.)

Hemangi Worlikar of Shiv Sena has emerged as the top performing municipal councillor followed by Manisha Chowdhary of BJP.

Yashodhar Phanse of Shiv Sena stands at number three while Noshir Rusi Mehta and Ajanta Yadav of Indian National Congress are at positions seven and nine respectively. Yakoob Memon of Samajwadi party is at position nine.

“This is where our councillors cut a really sorry figure. On an average the newly elected councillors asked only 10 questions during  2012-2013 at various forums and committees of MCGM.  If you posit the proportion of related questions asked against various issues on which complaints were made by citizens (nearly 1.5 lakh civic complaints received ) the average of 227 councillors works out to a pathetic 20.8% . This is truly deplorable,” Mehta said.

Praja has given negative marks to councillors with criminal records, and to those who have FIR registered against them in their affidavits. Also, it has further given negative markings to those against whom new FIR’s have been filed and charge sheets have been registered after they were elected.

“The constitution expects elected representatives to deliberate upon and ask questions pertaining to their respective constituencies and ensure that administration offers a satisfactory response. It is their prime role. To understand the problems and grievances of their constituents they need to understand the processes and systems of the corporation. Every other great work they do is secondary,” Mehta added.

Milind Mhaske, project director of Praja said that it has been observed that women councillors are trying hard to learn and have asked many questions on education, civic and health issues affecting daily lives. She said, “Since August 2012, we have been conducting workshops for elected councillors and observed that they are taking part on deliberations at ground level. While they should raising questions on policy issues, these skills will be acquired over time and they are working hard on it.”

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