LOCAL GOVERNANCE NEED TO SEEK COMMUNITY HELP-Case Study Sectors 22-23 Dwarka

Vijay K. Saluja

Sectors 22, 23 of Dwarka-a sub-city ,located in the South-West Delhi district of NCR Delhi, are at the southern-most end of this sprawling colony, developed by Delhi Development Authority. As learnt, it is one of the largest residential areas in Asia & is expected to have `zero-tolerance` policy towards common misuses of land including encroachment etc.

The sectors have well-laid out wide roads with footpaths on most of the roads & as well greenery-trees & shrubs. Besides, it boasts of very well-appointed schools with nice buildings & infrastructure i/c social & two well designed malls-one in each sector.

Perhaps, this could have been the reason to attract well educated/ connected & well – placed owners & tenants to its various high-rise apartments .These are gated communities. Various RWA`s looking after the management & maintenance of their precincts are doing reasonably good jobs. But the happy story just ends at the gates of each society premises?!

STATE OF INFRASTRUCTURE

Outside the gates, the sector`s infrastructure/civic services are not in the desired state of maintenance? Potholed roads, broken footpaths with missing tiles etc ,their state aggravated by the agencies laying optical fibres using trenchless technology, & drains/ pipelines etc, scattered/uncollected garbage around blue drums & alongside the footpaths, pets- poo on roads/footpaths & ill-maintained dividers/greenery barring a few, non working traffic lights[quite a number], meets the eye, wherever one goes!

MALLS

The position is really grave in the two malls? Here,it appears ,it is free for all??There is no concept of any enforcement of laid down rules & regulations, for running the shops within the allotted areas, parking of vehicles, or proper use of the well provided basements[which remain closed!?], prescribed putting up of proper signages, use of public spaces, maintenance of complexes i/c their, common areas,staircases toilets etc etc?!!

Why it is happening? Why the concerned authorities are not checking?Why the Traders Associations are not doing their prescribed duties?In case the office bearers/civic-officials, want to do their assigned jobs of doing proper management of the area/complex, then what are their constraints? Why the so many shoppers/visitors to these malls are apathetic & insensitive to the declining state of affairs due to huge encroachment & apathy of the concerned traders associations & the respective local authorities?Is shopping in any dirty/ messy place their only objective? Why all can not take up this cause with the concerned stakeholders to keep the place clean & spruced up? What about the call of the PM for Swwatch Abhiyaan? Clean well maintained Malls with proper parking & aesthetics will ultimately be good for all-traders,shoppers,visitors etc etc?!

CIVIC ORGANISATIONS

These are some of the questions which comes to mind..DDA, MCD, Police, Traffic Police DJB, BSES are some of the main civic authorities ,responsible for ensuring management of sector 22 ,23, like any other sectors/colonies. But, why despite the posting/ presence of the officials of all these agencies, the mayhem continues unabated!! ?Why no proper supervision, why no overseeing/co-ordination, why no proper guidance to its staff by the concerned officers at various levels of each departments??

Besides these, there are elected representatives of the area-Corporators, MLAs, MP who have the ethical/moral responsibilty to discharge their expected functions ie to ensure proper development/ upkeep & the redressal of various grievances of the residents/traders living/operating in these sectors.

PARKING

What is the use of elite schools in this area, if the management do not take up cudgels to take up with the authorities ,to make area properly maintained/ better. Though, their large presence in these two sectors have exacerbated the parking & traffic problems in this residential area.

What messages these school authorities are giving out to their students?

If there is ingress & egress of so many vehicles in this area, what is preventing the authorities from planning & constructing multi-storeyed parking. Besides providing much needed facility, these can be big source of earning REVENUE for the concerned authorities-DDA, SMCD.

ROLE OF COMMUNITY

The role of community is very imperative in supplementing the efforts of the municipal authorities. Sizable percentage of the residents in Sectors 22-23, are retirees from prominent positions from the public & private sectors. They are eager, educated, experienced, well aware , healthy, willing community, to lend their voluntary services to the civic authorities.

SUKH DUKH KAY SAATHI

There are many groups who are doing their bit to improve their neighbourhood. One such voluntary group of senior citizens of sectors 22-23, known as `SUKH DUKH KAY SAATHI` is doing extremely good jobs in many needed areas viz helping/associating with the horticulture-staff in maintaining some prominent gardens/green spaces in Sectors 22-23.,tree-plantations,garbage management, reviving water bodies, taking up vigorously issues of civic concerns of these two sectors in particular, with the respective local authorities The sustainable efforts of the Executive Committee & members of SUKH DUKH KAY SAATHI,over the time, have reaped good dividends,too?

SECRET OF SUCCESS?

The said parks are really well maintained & are awash with greenery/trees of many varieties & bloom with flowers of all types at DIFFERENT times of the year. The secret of success of this civil-society group to my mind, is first of all, the right attitude of most of the members, the cohesiveness, drive & passion of the key EC members & a spirit of contributing to the society/area in which they live. This has been brought about by the members in a sustained manner, over the time , by meeting regularly in the morning for walks, celebrating birthdays of the members on alternate Sundays in the park itself where cake cutting, handing over of bouquets to the `BIRTHDAY-BOYS` , poetry reading & refreshments are the orders of the Birthday- Mornings. On that occasion, some family –members esp of the Birthday-Boys also join in. Photographic sessions also are also on, during these celebrations. This effort & exercise in bon-homie has strengthened/is strengthening the bond amongst its members & the membership has increased to about 150!The Group also celebrates various festivals & important occasions like Independence Day ,Republic Day besides organizing painting competitions for children of the horticulture staff, labour camps located near by.All activities are done from the contributions by the members!

TRAINING OF CIVIC OFFICIALS

There example needs emulation by residents in other sectors/colonies, for upkeep of their respective area-garbage management,water supply,drainage,sewerage malls, roads, footpaths, road signages, parking etc etc of their sectors. The concerned staff of the civic bodies need to be trained properly esp in areas of seeking help from the community, working for/with the community as is being done in most of the other countries esp UK, Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia etc.

I have given the example of Dwarka & one of its civil-society group whose positive efforts are yielding good results for the neighbourhood.These best practices/examples can be emulated by any neighbourhood-be it in DELHI,GURGAON or any city of India. The local authorities & the local bodies to my mind need to aggressively & amiably seek the help of the local community to complement & supplement their efforts in improving the state of various areas of any city/town. Positive results are bound to follow!!

Readers may also send their views.

Writer is
Senior Fellow[urban studies]
Institute of Social Sciences,New Delhi www.issin.org
Director-Giraffe Heroes India Program www.giraffe.org
Ex-Chief Engineer[civil], New Delhi Municipal Council

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