ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Elite Capture in Participatory Urban Governance

The responsibility of municipalities to provide crucial services is being increasingly passed on to the resident welfare associations located in middle and upper middle class areas in cities. Similar tools of intervention are absent in the slums and low-income neighbourhoods and even the local ward committees fail to represent their needs and aspirations. The RWAs are trying to sanitise their neighbourhood by attempting to remove encroachments and petty commercial establishments from their "gated" colonies. The very mechanism of the functioning of RWAs is likely to accentuate and institutionalise disparity within urban areas.

criteria and procedure of selection of the members of the WDCs has made their very Urban Governance exi stence and composition a prerogative of the state machinery. There is limited citizen’s participation in planning and Debolina Kundu implementation at the ward level as these I n recent years, there has been a sea change in urban governance in the country. The economic liberalisation initiated in the country followed by decentralisation measures adopted by all tiers of the government as an aftermath of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA) has resulted in gradual withdrawal of the State and increasing p rivate sector participation in capital i nvestment and operation and maintenance of urban services. The institutional vacuum thus created has sought to be lled up by the non- governmental organisations (NGOs). Also, the inability of the wards committees, i nstitutionalised through 74th CAA, to u sher in decentralised governance has led to the growth of middle class activism through the resident welfare associations (RWAs). The municipal responsibility of provision of services is being increasingly passed on to the RWAs (Smitha 2010). Their involvement has been broadly in a reas of operation and management of civic services, capital investment in infrastructural projects, planning and participatory budgeting, and maintenance of neighbourhood security. In fact, efforts have been made to institutionalise them as partners in the development process, through government-led programmes like the Bhagidari in Delhi. The RWAs have been supported not only by the government but also by private agencies and o ther civil societies. Importantly, their functioning has been restricted largely in the middle income and posh colonies. Correspondingly, the informal settlements, which house the urban poor, are unable to exercise their voice through the same form of activism.

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