CIVIC AUTHORITIES & RESIDENTS-Need for Introspection?!

Vijay K. Saluja

  Senior Fellow Institute of Social Sciences-New Delhi
  & Ex Chief Engineer [civil] New Delhi Municipal Council
Have you ever given a thought-dear residents, as to what makes our colonies dirty? Why, there are so many stray dogs, around your flats or inside the gardens? Why cows & bulls keep on sitting on or near the dividers of roads,  many a no of times in the day, weave through the busy traffic, to cross over to the other side of the road? Why various green spaces provided in various sectors of colonies are ill maintained- at times, no greenery or just patch of earth, play equipments –broken, non-operational?
Why,   a road  repaired after a long time, is again dug up for laying another utility? How much inconvenience it causes to the public? Loss of exchequer, environmental pollution, traffic jams are some of the many side effects of these mindless ill co-ordinated jobs.
Have a look at another commonly seen, scenario.
Big crowd collected around a person[bleeding at many places], who has been hit by a vehicle driven recklessly, and then the crowd thinning away,  each one thanking the Almighty, that the person involved was not one of their near & dear one! The bleeding man [or woman] kept on,  at or near the accident site, as many wondering, that their reporting the incident might, not bring them some hassles/harassment of any kind from the police.?!
But, ask yourself, honestly a question. Why all this is happening, day in day out, in our colonies, markets, cities.
Why not much is being done to arrest the situation? Why day in day out,  despite media `s reporting about harassment to girls/women, & any many snatching/theft incidents, there is no tangible improvement in the situation.
In fact, as reported, there is further deterioration in the state of affairs. The Authorities lament about the lack of resources, multiplicity of authority & lack of co-ordination, politics, apathy of the citizens etc etc. There are excuses galore-you name it & and it is there.
But my humble query to the concerned authorities, RWAs, elected representatives & the general public is-Are we doing enough to correct the situation or just discussing & passing the blame. To the authorities, I will like to submit, that as problems of cities will keep on occurring every minute-cities being dynamic entities, the need is to think of innovative  or out of box solutions to the various problems.
To my mind, citizen is a big resource for the authorities to complement & supplement their efforts in managing the cities.
What is needed is the positive attitude, the will power of the officials/local representatives/police, to  mobilize citizenry in a proper way.
Running a local body is not like working in a normal govt office or secretariat. Here, what is expected of its employees is a different work culture,  empathy with the citizen`s difficulties & eagerness to solve the same, within a given time frame. If there is no electricity or water or the storm water/ sewage line is choked, then the file dealing with it needs to be cleared quickly on hourly basis & not like any any other ordinary file, which at times remain unattended for days together! Decision making has to be quick.
All this needs induction of right people with proper education , regular on the job skill- up gradation in the local bodies/development authorities/ neighbourhood police.They also must have the ability to forge close links with the community & actively seek their co operation in supplementing their efforts. Unless, this is done, I, do not see any ray of hope, in perceptible improvement of the state of our cities, & its  colonies .
The chief minister of Delhi  & its local bodies, to my mind, need to appoint  an exclusive Director[community relations] in each local body-NDMC, MCD, DDA & Delhi Govt, DJB,to maintain close liaison with the community, listen to their grievances & address their issues effectively in a given time-frame. This will be different set up from present bhagidari-system.
As issues & problems of a city esp a mega-city like Delhi are enormous & get thrown up everyday, it is felt, MCD need to have an exclusive TV channel of its own like `DELHI-CHANNEL` or simply named `MCD` like NDTV . This should run twenty four hours & telecast all issues, news, problems about Delhi & various efforts made by various authorities to bring about improvement & better maintenance etc etc. Various areas/subjects- basic services, culture, education, encroachment, entertainment, health, infrastructure, can be discussed in various formats-panel discussions, seminars, talks, school-college debates, meet the public programmes etc etc.
Many social happenings, cultural programmes of the city can also be telecast regularly.
What is needed is a fertile imagination, the positive attitude & the will of the authorities. Rest –positive things will follow.
There are endless possibilities of positive engagements with the public.
It can also be a great source of revenue for the civic body, by way of getting advertisements, besides MCD, making close rapport with the citizenry.
Just think about it- the hon`ble LG-Delhi, dear chief minister,  the respected mayor of Delhi & the CEOS of the local bodies.
There is no harm in trying to test the waters, even if there are any doubts.