Why Kejriwal’s promise of giving more power to RWAs is untenable

Prominent resident welfare bodies feel that until the structural issue of mushrooming of RWAs isn't addressed, nothing concrete can happen

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Explaining the rationale behind the move, Kejriwal said the main aim was to make the people of Delhi equal participants in the governance process. He also said that funds will be allocated to the RWAs | File Photo

A day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that resident welfare associations in the National Capital will be given the status of ‘mini-councillors’ if the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is voted to power in the city civic polls, presidents of prominent residents’ welfare bodies downplayed the promise terming it a mere ‘poll slogan’ almost impossible to execute.

Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) are responsible for controlling community halls and spaces, beautification and greening of community public areas and ensuring security arrangements.

Reservations over scheme

Explaining the rationale behind the move, Kejriwal said the main aim was to make the people of Delhi equal participants in the governance process. He also said that funds would be allocated to the RWAs.

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However, B S Vohra, president of East Delhi RWAs, has expressed reservations over the promise and said until the structural issue of ‘mushrooming of RWAs’ isn’t addressed, nothing concrete can happen.

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Talking to The Federal, Vivek Vihar RWA general secretary Shiv Kumar Gupta said, “Delhi CM’s statement is politically significant as RWAs have considerable influence in the city’s planned and authorised areas, especially in DDA colonies. Unless the project is discussed and sanctioned, we can’t fall for these empty promises.” Gupta also felt that councillors, fearing dilution of their power, would scuttle any move to empower the RWAs.

Not a new promise

During the 2017 MCD polls, similar promises were made, Gupta added, but the civic body has had three meetings with RWAs until now with no result.

Rajiv Kakria, convener, Save Our City Campaign, a collective of RWAs, said: “Empowering RWAs is a good idea. But before that, a new society act needs to be enacted with more stringent guidelines outlining the registration process of RWAs and limiting just one RWA in a specific area.”

“Currently, there are too many RWAs within a specified area, as rules governing its formation – the Societies Registration Act, 1860 — isn’t a watertight legislation,” reiterated Kakria.

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One that fizzled out

Commenting on the Bhagidari scheme started by former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, he said: ” It was a fantastic scheme that placed RWAs at the centre-stage, thereby enabling the welfare body to address the issues in their locality. But, in effect, it also made the RWAs very powerful.”

“Fearing that RWAs will become a force to reckon with, the scheme and its implementation fizzled out and stopped once the Congress government was voted out in 2013,” he added.

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