“True democracy cannot be run by 20 people sitting in the Centre. It should be run by the villagers at the grassroot level. Today, the power is centralized to cities like Delhi, Calcutta and Bombay. I’d like to decentralize it to India’s seven lakh villages.”

Mahatma Gandhi



1. What is a Mohalla Sabha?
Each Assembly Constituency of Delhi has been divided into 40-50 Mohallas. An open meeting of the voters of a Mohalla will be called ‘Mohalla Sabha’. Through Mohalla meetings (Mohalla Sabhas), citizens will propose, discuss and decide to carry out basic or urgent works for the development of their Mohalla, and monitor their progress.
2. What is the size of one Mohalla?
  A Mohalla has approximately one thousand households. However, some Mohallas may be smaller or larger than others depending on economic, social and geographical factors.
3. How, when and where will Mohalla Sabha meetings be conducted?
  Mohalla Sabhas will be held at least once a month on a fixed date, time and location. Initially, the meetings may be held once every two months. Special Mohalla Sabha meetings can also be called at short notice to discuss urgent matters. The Government is planning to start Mohalla Sabha meetings across Delhi from next month.
4. Who will organize these meetings?
  The District Magistrate (DM) will be responsible for organizing the Mohalla Sabhas. Two Mohalla Coordinators will be identified in each Mohalla to conduct these meetings.
5. What will be the role of Mohalla Coordinators?
  Informing all citizens about the Mohalla Sabha meeting, making arrangements for the meeting and preparing meeting minutes. Coordinators will also ensure works approved by the Mohalla Sabha are completed with help of officials and District Urban Development Agency (DUDA) etc.
6. Will Mohalla Coordinators be paid a salary?
  No. Mohalla Coordinators will work voluntarily with a spirit of public service.
7. What is the guarantee that the Mohalla Coordinator won’t become corrupt?
  Mohalla Coordinator will not have the power to take any decision independently. All decisions will be made only by the Mohalla Sabha. Hence, there is no scope for corruption. However, if there is any wrongdoing, a Mohalla Coordinator may be removed after complaining to the District Magistrate.
8. What type of decisions will citizens be able to take in Mohalla Sabhas?
  In a Mohalla Sabha, citizens will be able to discuss and decide to carry out basic or urgent development works. Mohalla Sabhas will also be able to take decisions on government schemes such as pensions, BPL cards, domicile certificates etc.
9. How will issues be discussed and decisions be taken in Mohalla Sabhas?
  Mohalla Coordinator will call for discussion among the people attending the Mohalla Sabha, and prepare a list of works that need to be carried out in the Mohalla. If the list is long, the works will be prioritized based on voting.
10. How will the decisions taken in Mohalla Sabhas be implemented?
Mohalla Coordinators will get the works done through local empanelled contractors. Issues that cannot be resolved through the Citizen Local Area Development (Citizen-LAD) funds will be forwarded to the concerned department officials through a mobile app. Officials will be required to resolve these “mohalla grievances” within a fixed deadline, failing which a complaint against them will be automatically sent to the Chief Minister's Office for further action.
11. Where will the funds come from?
  For the first time in the country, the Delhi government has created a Citizen-LAD fund to enable direct implementation of Mohalla Sabha decisions. The government has allocated Rs 350 crore for the Citizen-LAD fund in its budget for 2016-17. Each Mohalla Sabha will receive approximately Rs 10 lakhs this year.
12. Isn’t this money too little for a Mohalla?
  Rs 10 lakhs is hardly sufficient to fulfil all needs of any area. However, many works are already being carried out by the Government, MCDs, MLA-LAD etc. The Citizen-LAD fund provides a new opportunity for the citizens to come together through the forum of Mohalla Sabha and decide the most pressing works in their Mohalla as per their prudence. This amount may be increased in the future as well.
13. Is there any upper limit on expenditure by Mohalla Sabha for a single work?
  Mohallas Sabhas have complete authority to use the entire fund of about Rs 10 lakhs for a single project, if the people decide so. However, it will be better if this money is spent to resolve small, pressing needs of the mohalla, which otherwise require citizens to make countless visits to their elected representatives or government offices.
14. Will the decision-making process of the Mohalla Sabhas cause delays in works?
No, quite the opposite. Today the smallest of works need - approvals at various levels, countless visits to government offices, and it takes several months for completion. In contrast, once the Mohalla Sabha approves a work, no further approvals will be required from any official. Direct implementation can be initiated either through contractors or concerned government agencies who will be required to complete the work in a fixed deadline.
15. How will decisions being taken in Mohalla Sabhas end corruption/commission raj?
  Through Mohalla Sabhas, citizens will directly be able take decisions on works to be carried out through their Citizen-LAD fund. Even the selection of contractors for small works will be done directly on the orders of the Mohalla Sabha. And in case the work is not done satisfactorily, Mohalla Sabha can decide to stop the payment of the contractor or initiate other actions.
16. Can Mohalla Sabhas use this fund for any kind of work ?
  Mohalla Sabhas can use Citizen-LAD funds for any work benefitting the community with a few exceptions such as repair of private buildings, grants or loans, works or services benefiting individuals or private organizations, religious activities etc.
17. How can citizens track the status of works selected in their Mohalla Sabha?
  A mobile app called “My Mohalla” is being developed through which the citizens can keep track of the status of works initiated by their Mohalla Sabha in real time. The app will also provide details about the schedule of upcoming meetings, agenda and Minutes of Meetings.
18. Will Mohalla Sabhas not indulge in corruption or take wrong decisions?
  When Mohalla residents meet and take collective decisions in an open meeting, they are unlikely to indulge in any wrong activity or decide in anybody’s favour. It is widely accepted that when decision-making is left to just one person, there is a greater possibility of wrong or biased decisions. Similarly, if some people are asked to take decisions about others, there is possibility of a wrong decision. But when people collectively decide about their own Mohalla’s development using their own funds, they will take the best decision.
19. What is the guarantee that people of the community will not take incorrect decisions?
  Gandhiji believed that in a true democracy, common people should have the first right to commit mistakes. He said, “The people of this country have become paupers. They don’t even have the right to commit mistakes. Those who don’t have the right to err, cannot ever progress. The right to commit mistakes and learn from them is the true meaning of Swaraj.”
20. If citizens take decisions on their own, won’t there be disputes among them? /Are all citizens of the Mohalla rational enough to take decisions?
  Yes, disputes are possible in the path towards collective action. After all, democracy is a constantly evolving process. In fact, “Indians aren’t rational”, “they will fight among themselves” etc. are the excuses that British gave to deny India freedom for a long time. There will be disputes and disagreements, but people will learn from them too. Only such churning will strengthen Indian democracy.
21. Is it really possible for the people of a community to unite on any issue?
  Dialogue precedes consensus. Today, there is no proper platform where all citizens can discuss issues related to the development of their Mohalla. The Sabha will provide a much needed forum for all voters of a mohalla to debate and discuss competing priorities. Eventually, all decisions will be taken by general consensus or by voting.
22. Won't powerful individuals in a community be able to influence Mohalla Sabha decisions in their favour?
  This is possible. The only way this can be prevented is through maximum participation of people in Mohalla Sabhas, so that no single individual or group influences the decisions.
23. Will Mohalla Sabhas replace RWAs?
  RWAs play an important role in civil society, and will continue to function independently. Mohalla Sabhas will in fact help RWAs. In the present system, RWAs are dependent on MLA-MP LAD funds for any works, but now they can use Mohalla Sabhas as their local platforms for funds and getting the works done. RWAs will get more strength through Mohalla Sabhas.
24. Will there be confusion between the works of Mohalla Sabha and MCDs?
  Absolutely not. Mohalla Sabha is only a meeting forum for all voters of a Mohalla. It will be a platform that all agencies such as Delhi government, MCDs, DDA etc. can access to better implement their works and schemes through citizen participation.
25. Have Mohalla Sabhas been conducted in Delhi before this?
  Last year, Mohalla Sabhas were conducted in 11 Assembly Constituencies of Delhi. The good and bad experiences from last year have informed the policy of Mohalla Sabhas to be started soon across Delhi. In the past too, before the Aam Aadmi Party and Government was formed, our Hon’ble Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had successfully piloted the Mohalla Sabha model in Trilokpuri and Karawal Nagar, with the support of the ward councillors.
26. Are Mohalla Sabhas conducted anywhere else in India?
  No. Delhi Government will be the first government to launch such a historic initiative for participatory governance.
27. Does the Mohalla Sabha model exist anywhere else in the world?
  Almost all developed countries in the world have enacted laws that mandate the participation of local citizens to take decisions on important local issues. The United States and European countries have institutionalized Town Hall meetings and County meetings for this purpose. In countries like Brazil, the budget-making process itself starts in Mohalla Sabha type meetings. And in Switzerland, the Government can pass laws only after the approval of citizens.
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