Amidst furious debate and stiff resistance from opposition parties, the Karnataka government is trying to pass a bill to split the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the city’s municipal corporation. The Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Amendment) Bill, 2015 breezed through the lower house but got stuck at the legislative council, which thumbed its nose at Chief Minister Siddaramiah and the Congress party by sending it to a select committee for consideration.

The Congress reasoned that Bangalore has grown too much to be handled by a single corporation and suggested a three-way split of the corporation. The Opposition has accused the government of trying to stall corporation elections, in which the Congress party is almost guaranteed to fare poorly. The government, in fact, used trifurcation efforts as an excuse to dissolve the corporation just four days before the end of its term, and in doing so gained six months to hold fresh elections.

For months before the dissolution of the corporation, expert committees and civic groups in Bangalore have been drawing up plans to restructure it. The current structure is highly problematic. You could even say it stinks, given the city’s gargantuan and recurring garbage problem. It is the largest municipal corporation in India, watching over 712 square kilometres city. Bengaluru is also one of the fastest growing and most densely populated urban areas in the world.

The corporation was created in 2007 by merging the core city area with five peripheral areas and in one shot adding 32 lakh people to the city population. Now the periphery continues to grow rapidly while the central core remains somewhat static.

The government called for recommendations to restructure the corporation from a committee headed by former chief secretary BS Patil. The Patil committee drew up a three-tiered vertical structure to make the corporation more efficient – an apex body for citywide policy-making, leaving local decisions to zones and further hyper-local action to the wards in each zone.

The government, however, seems adamant to have a flat, geographic trifurcation of the city, much like the split of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in 2011. Here are at least three reasons why the government’s proposed trifurcation of the BBMP won’t solve any of the city’s problems.

Trifurcation will replicate the same problems at smaller scales
Bangalore’s basic civic services like transport, water and sewage are supposed to be under the purview of the corporation. However, the state government monitors the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewage Board instead, pointed out Mathew Idiculla, research associate at Azim Premji University. Idiculla has co-authored a paper on the BBMP’s possible restructuring that was submitted to the Patil committee as it considered Bangalore’s options. “Trifurcation is just dividing and that is not going to help things. The transport, water and other agencies have no connection to the corporation,” Idiculla said.

Similarly, land use and planning are left up to the Bangalore Development Authority instead of the constitutionally mandated Metropolitan Planning committee. Despite having selected members, Bangalore’s MPC is still a non-functioning entity.

Trifurcation doesn’t automatically empower wards
The 74th constitutional amendment for state level reform and strengthening municipal governance calls for devolution of power. Merely splitting the existing corporation into two or more similar bodies won’t serve this purpose. “Power is too much centralized in the corporation and power has to be devolved to at least two levels down, one is the zonal level and one is the ward level,” said Idiculla.

Splitting the corporation will cause unequal growth
Delhi’s corporations are now in a financial mess and it all began with the MCD’s trifurcation.  Recently, sanitation workers protested that the East and North corporations in Delhi hadn’t paid them for two months. The richer South Corporation, which managed an affluent area and collected more in property tax and parking charges, has not had such problem.

“If you do [trifurcation] one corporation will become very rich and the other will become very poor,” said Kathyayini Chamaraj, executive trustee of a non-profit trust called CIVIC Bangalore. “If you have an apex body and a single entity like greater Bangalore, then you can cross subsidize and from the richer area send money to the poorer areas but of you have three completely independent corporations you cannot take revenue from one corporation and give it to the other one. That is exactly the experience of Delhi.”