WHAT CAN be DONE to IMPROVE our NEIGBOURHOODS/COLONIES/MARKETS/CITIES?- a Few Suggestions—

Vijay K. Saluja*

In any social gathering,one of the topic for discussion  is, the plight of commuters, who are daily stuck for hours together, in the traffic, jams. Talks also veer to/ are about all those influential persons who can make a difference, but keep on suffering the traffic bottlenecks, snarls & some, while stuck in jams, continue reading newspapers, chatting on mobile, playing video games or working on laptops., etc etc!!

When they are asked –don`t you have any solution, the stock reply was/is, `Yaar time to bitana hai na`.`Hum kya kar saktey hain!?

But my submission is, if the things continue like this, what will be the fate of you , me & all of us five years from now, ten years from now & later?? Have U given a thought?

It wont`be a surprise , when half of the working hours, then, will be spent in going to work & half in coming back to home!

When will we work? 
What about stresses? 
petrol consumption?
attending to nature-calls etc etc?

The future scenario, I visualize, is going to be horrendous, if we all do not stir from our apathy, complacency, criticism & self centred-ness.

 How over the years `dekhte dekhte, life kitni badal gayi hai`!

Well, if you are happy about the present situation, then there is nothing to say about.

But, interactions with many, only buttress the point, that no one is happy with the worsening situation in our cities but are either complacent or helpless to correct the situation as their various efforts to correct the situation, have not brought in the desired results!

Interestingly, some also say why do you write for  a blog instead of writing in national newspapers or why do you write at all? My humble submission is – First improve your neighbourhood, instead of improving the world & writing is a call of conscience.

We already have conferences/ seminars- diarrohea in our metros in particular where-in, year in year out, most of the recommendations, do not change the ground-realities for years?!

The urgent need is implementation of the recommendations.
But, the state of affairs certainly need change for the positive, in the interest of sustainability of living & living happily, wherever we are.
How to go about it?

Well, here are a few of the many suggestions, to take care of your neighbourhood, colonies, cities & its infrastructure—-

First suggestion- Do not totally be dependent upon the Govt. That does not mean that they have no role to play. In fact, it is the primary role of the govt/ civic bodies & thus it`s officials are meant to provide the needed services. But the community have to play complementary/ supplementary role.

Second assumption- Majority of the govt. officials & the politicians etc are well meaning people, but , they regrettably are mute majority!! The ones, who are in the business of `milking the system` are connected, united & vociferous lot & happen to corner the influential postings in almost every departments of the city-organisations, by various means?! Yes, it is a sad fact.

That also does not mean that they will not listen to the citizen`s grievances. They are also efficient, some rather more efficient. So, they are also in the position to solve the problems.

So what to do?

Well , all the areas of Delhi [rather any city] are divided into sub areas, which is in the jurisdiction of an officer in each department .To give example-

In any municipal corporation., there is

Civil Engg Department
Electrical Engg Deptt
Architect Deptt 
Finance Deptt
Health Deptt
Enforcement Department
Horticulture Department
Property Tax Department
Public Relations Department .
Each department is headed by Heads of Departments who are assisted by battery of junior officers in a hierarchical order.

For example under chief engineer there will be additional/ superintending engineers, executive engineers, assistant engineers, junior engineers [overseer in common parlance] who have battalion of skilled/ unskilled workers under them to attend to various complaints of civil engg nature.

So, is the story for the other departments./organisations.

All these departments are overseen by persons in administration-Commissioner, Addl Commissioner, Directors , Secretary of the local body plus the Vigilance Head-to take care of the complaints about corruption & harrassment.

In addition to this, there are elected representatives[representing every area of the city],& members of various committees, plus with them, authority of allocation/judicious spending of individual local area development funds{LAD]

Now what can/should RWA & TWA & ordinary citizen do?

First of all, they need to be united & [each member] must have the directory giving latest contact numbers of these officials.

Please ring them as & when there is any thing amiss..

If person at one level does not perform, move on to the next level. I am sure, things will start turning for the better in the attendance of complaints. At the moment ask your self, how many up-to date contact numbers U have? Be true to yourself.

Secondly RWA & TWA have also to play pro-active role in keeping the area around their neighbourhood spruced up by supplementary efforts.

TWA have to play large role in checking the encroachment of common spaces, proper parking of vehicles, keeping a look on the upkeep of corridors & public conveniences.Presently,the markets & even newly sprung shopping malls are in a mess.Colonies are no better, what with car-explosion.

They also need to keep close rapport with the assigned officials of their area..,Though there could/ will be some unscrupulous & uncaring elements in the administration,but do not get disappointed & discouraged.This is a challenge, to overcome their apathy.BE UNITED. It helps.

Instituting awards for the good officials/ performers in their areas, is a good morale booster & motivational exercise & does help in better productivity & maintaining good relations.Nominate the persons who are doing good jobs for GIRAFFE HEROES Commendations.Details of the same are at www.giraffe/org/global/india

Noise pollution, poster pollution, unauthorized construction, encroachment of common spaces & many other civic services will improve, if the citizens & the community keep a vigilant eye on sustainable basis & with unity of purpose.
The Educational Institutions can play BIG role, in these areas by properly educating their pupils about civic responsibilities.But,this can be more productive if the teachers are enthused-lots,too.

 The big problem also, is

If some of the citizens-commuters, residents, traders themselves are not law abiding & use speed money for their illegal practices!

In that situation, what can one do, if there is no unity of purpose, self interests rule the roosts, ego-trips/in-fightings on trivial issues, are there. Then, only God can save our cities.! I suggest,then be a God`s representatives[Doot]

I feel, Even `God` is disappointed with our state of affairs & HE has many other things to do. Organise Community KIRTAN ABOUT CIVIC-ISSUES.

So friends, I have only suggested a few of the possible easy solutions. Try it faithfully. Things will start turning for the better, I am sure. 

Though, there are many many other [legal,RTI,vigilance etc etc.]routes/ways, too?

If there is any counselling / help needed, do let me know.

But pl mind, this is a sustainable activity of the community-of men, women, children & not an isolated[or one day] one, if we need better & vibrant cities & want optimum utilization of public [that is your own] funds. Each day may/will test your ingenuity & need innovative solutions by involving community.Use humans as a big resource. Do work for it. We can discuss,too. You will find it a worthwhile exercise.Life especially for RETIRED persons, will acquire a different meaning, without much money!

 *Director,Giraffe Heroes India  www.giraffe.org , a  Senior Fellow at Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi www.issin.org  &
Former Chief Engineer[civil],New Delhi Municipal Council

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