Tag Archives: Girisha Shankar


The who’s who of BBMP: the officials and their offices

 By Girisha Shankar and Aparna Ravikumar

The BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) is an urban local governmental body whose working keeps Bangalore functional. It takes decisions and implements projects relating to roads, bus stations, schools, hospitals, and a lot more. As the core municipal body that governs Bangalore, BBMP has both elected representatives of city residents as well as appointed or nominated officials in various roles. This blog post takes a look at the people who run the BBMP.

The city of Bangalore is broken up into 198 wards. Each ward has a population of roughly 30,000-40,000. As of 2011 data, Horamavu ward has the largest population of 93,830. Representatives, called councillors, are elected every 5 years from each of these 198 wards.  The BBMP elections, unlike the state elections that are held by the Election commission of India, are held by the Karnataka State Election Commission, in accordance with the rules underlined by the Karnataka Municipal Corporation (KMC) act. The BBMP is constituted when at least 2/3rd of the elected councilors are present and the Government has passed corresponding the Gazette notification. The fully constituted BBMP has a strength of 270 members, of which 198 are the elected councillors, 28 are members of legislative assembly (MLAs), 8 are members of legislative council-the upper house at the state level, 12 are Rajya Sabha MPs, 4 are Lok Sabha MPs and 20 are nominated members.  As of February 2014, the employed staff strength of BBMP was around 10,000 people, and around 15,000 people were contract workers.

City governance begins at the level of Area Sabhas. Area Sabhas constitute 1-5 polling booths within a ward. All registered voters of that area are its members. The representative of the Area Sabha is appointed by the Commissioner. Higher up the ladder of governance, at the ward level, is the ward committee. Each of the 198 wards has a ward committee of 10 nominated members, chaired by the councillor. The councillors elected from each ward, in turn elect the mayor and deputy mayor from their own ranks. The ruling party usually elects the mayor and deputy mayor from its ranks. The mayor and the deputy mayor have a ruling term of one year.

An important figure of authority in the BBMP is the commissioner. He is appointed by the Government for term of 2 years. He heads the executive wing of BBMP. The various departments of BBMP, like the Revenue department and Administrative department among other departments, operate under his supervision. He is assisted by the deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners. The various departments that are headed by the Commissioner, have a number of officers, like the engineers, who carry out BBMP’s ground work and handle its daily activities. These officers and engineers report to the Commissioner and form a major part of the BBMP workforce.

Standing Committees are formed to address specific issues of city governance. The committees also register complaints from the public. There are 12 standing committees in the BBMP currently that address issues like Public Health, Taxation and Finance and Major Public Works, among others. The committee consists of ten members and one chairman. The standing committees are formed for a period of one year.

Non statutory roles in the BBMP include the roles of the leader of the opposition party, the leader of the ruling party among others. These roles are not a legal requirement but conventionally command positions of influence within the BBMP offices.




What can a Councillor do?

by Girisha Shankar
Edited by Apoorva Tadepalli

The Civic Leadership Incubation Program prepares students to undertake civic governance at the local level in their wards. While the BBMP is organised as a gargantuan hierarchy with several roles at play, the elected representatives do have an important role. There is a lot that a councillor can aspire for and also achieve during his tenure at BBMP.

The most basic function of a councillor is to form and chair the ward committee. The ward committee needs to be selected carefully in order to fulfil political compulsions while at the same time allowing for adequate representation for all the citizens of the ward. The other important function of a councillor is to hold ward committee meetings, which also can be useful in coordinating civic agencies like BWSSB, BESCOM, BBMP, etc. Without such coordination, civic issues are not addressed efficiently – the simplest example of that being when roads are cut by one government body soon after another asphalts the road.  Another aspect of these meetings is that they help ensure the public’s participation, and the councillors can get to hear directly from the aggrieved parties instead of waiting for the problems to precipitate into a crisis, like with the garbage crisis of Bangalore in 2012. Most of the problems in ward can have a local solution, if proper coordination can be ensured. The councillor can be instrumental in making this happen.

It is essential that the councillor exercise their right to raise questions in the council meeting pertaining to the general proceedings and also bring up specific issues from the ward, which need attention. A councillor who stays as a mute spectator of the council proceedings without any proactive participation is a liability and it is a failure on his/her part in performing his/her duties.

Another role that a councillor can aspire to take on is to join various standing committees (though, not simultaneously). Unlike the previous roles where they are representing their ward alone, here the focus is wider – encompassing all of the city. Irrespective of whether the councillor happens to be a member of the committee or its chairman, the councillor has to manage dual role of representing their ward as well as taking a larger perspective of BBMP as a whole in dealing with specific business of the committee – be it large infrastructure works, health in the city, public schools and so on.

After a reasonably long stint in the council and having gained adequate experience with the functioning of the BBMP, a councillor can aspire to be a Deputy Mayor or Mayor, the latter of which has to ensure the execution of the council’s resolutions. Both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have access to funds that can be used at their discretion. Here in lies the ability of councillors in ensuring that the funds are used appropriately – not just in their ward, but also for the city corporation’s entire jurisdiction.

All said, these are but the starting points for the role an ambitious councillor or corporator can play in a city like Bangalore. The true scope of a civic leader’s role, whether they hold elected office or not, is only constrained by their political imagination and drive.

Girisha Shankar is an urban policy analyst with the Takshashila Institution and a student of the B.CLIP pioneer batch. Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution. This was a part of Girisha’s lecture on a ‘Bottom-up Introduction to the BBMP’.


A Brief History of Bangalore’s Governance

by Girisha Shankar
Edited by Apoorva Tadepalli

Local governance has existed in India since the Vedic days. The Indus Valley civilization had well planned towns and governing bodies that took care of civic infrastructure. Municipalities were established by the East India Company in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, and were later empowered to enact their own bylaws. Lord Ripon instituted a major reform in 1882 paving the way for representative form of governance in municipalities. This resulted in elected councils in several municipal bodies – including one in Bangalore as described below.

Municipal governance in Bangalore

Bangalore Town and Bangalore Cantonment, analogous to modern wards, had separate committees with several divisions, with two councillors for each division. By 1892, both these municipalities were free from direct British rule and elections were introduced. The Cantonment municipality, unlike Bangalore town municipality, saw communal representation of councilors. This arrangement continued until independence. This period saw Bangalore Town municipality under the administration of eminent personalities such as Arcot Srinivasachar, K P Puttanna Chetty and A S Nagarkar.


In 1949, City of Bangalore Corporation Act merged the two municipal committees in Bangalore and all their constituent divisions were brought under a single corporation. The resultant body was what we now know as Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, or BMP. At the same time, there was another corporation in operation in Karnataka- Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Council.

The State Government of Karnataka intended to bring these two bodies under the purview of same act. Hence the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act -1976 (KMC Act) was introduced. This act with its various amendments continues to govern the Bangalore Corporation even today.

One of the major amendments done to the KMC Act was the Karnataka Amending Act 35 of 1994, after which Bangalore Corporation got reconstituted with larger urban area under its jurisdiction, and an election commission was set up for running the elections to local bodies in the state. A finance commission was constituted to review the financial position of Corporation vis-à-vis that of state government. This was the first time that state government endowed power and authority to local urban bodies in general and BMP in particular. This included powers to prepare and implement plans for economic development and ensuring social justice.

The next major change into Corporation came in 2007, when the state government issued a notification to merge the BMP with adjoining 7 city municipal councils (CMC), one town municipal council (TMC) and 111 villages. This resulted in a much bigger area of administration for the Corporation which was rechristened “Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike”, or the BBMP.

Electronic City, one of the city’s fastest growing areas, remains out of BBMP’s jurisdiction; in June 2007, BBMP passed a resolution to bring the Electronic City under its administration. However, Electronic City Industries’ association has stiffly opposed this move. This tug of war is went on till March 2013, when a Karnataka state government order declared the creation of an independent Electronics City Industrial Township Authority or ECLIA.

Girisha Shankar is an urban policy analyst with the Takshashila Institution and a student of the B.CLIP pioneer batch. Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.