89% of voters in Bengaluru are most concerned about environmental issues: survey

With Bengaluru, where air and water pollution levels are at dubious highs, slowly gearing up for the civic body elections in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) most likely to be held in the coming months, a latest survey shows 89 percent of voters are concerned about environmental issues and climate change in the metropolis.

However, only 25% believe that elected officials give the importance they deserve to environmental issues.

A new survey released on Tuesday attempted to gauge public perceptions of local governance, expectations of upcoming elections, the city’s budget, issues that affect quality of life, citizen engagement with councilors as well as citizens’ basic knowledge of issues relating to city governance and politics.

The survey conducted by the NGO Janaagraha Center for Citizenship and Democracy was conducted in 27 neighborhoods belonging to eight areas of Bangalore.

Using the stratified random sampling methodology, 503 people, including those from different age and socio-economic groups, were interviewed during the period from December 16, 2021 to January 2, 2022.

The city’s policy survey showed that 86% of new voters in Bangalore strongly expressed their intention to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming BBMP elections. Their main concern was the fight against climate change.

Srinivas Alavilli, Civic Participation Officer at Janaagraha, said, “Voters in Bengaluru are waiting for the BBMP elections. We tried to understand how aware citizens, especially first-time voters, are of the BBMP. The results showed that very few understand the role of the BBMP, neighborhood corporators, neighborhood committees, etc. but are eager to vote and want civic polls to be conducted on the basis of day-to-day issues that affect them. To improve our city, the institution of local governance must be strengthened, starting with participation in local elections.

Sapna Karim of Janaagraha said: “Although a large percentage of voters in Bengaluru may not fully understand the nature of ward level governance, they expect the new council to provide good pathways , clean neighborhoods, efficient commuting, clean water and focuses on mitigating climate and environmental issues. During the days of Covid lockdown, decentralization of governance through neighborhood committees has been proven to have many benefits as it brings government closer to the citizen. This is evident from the large number of neighborhood committee meetings that take place in the city. However, the BBMP needs to build its capacity and resources to strengthen the ward committee platform.

Other survey points:

Only 17% knew the name of the former mayor of the BBMP, while 97% knew the name of the Prime Minister and 83% the name of the CM.

94% were unaware of the BBMP’s allocation of Rs 60 lakh per ward for the financial year 2021-22.

87% of voters in Bengaluru believe that a strong councilor would ensure better services and improved infrastructure in their wards.

23% cited pedestrian infrastructure as the most important problem, followed by 20% cited garbage collection, 16% traffic jams and 15% the lack of availability of drinking water.

The majority of respondents believe that coordination between BBMP and civic agencies such as Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (BESCOM), Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) will contribute to better governance.