Vijay K. Saluja
Senior Fellow,Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi
Ex Chief Engineer[civil],New Delhi Municipal Council

DDA park in Sector 22 Dwarka, located near Manish Mall was declared during DDA Garden Festival-2011, the best maintained park in Dwarka .It was then also declared the 2nd best maintained park[smaller category] in the whole of Delhi!

I, live very near to this park & visit it, every morning for my morning walks. I have observed that its popularity among the residents have increased, over the time .Now ,every morning & evening, the park is frequented by large number of men, women, young boys & children.

In the morning, senior citizens of neighbourhood who are members of an association-`Sukh Dukh kay Sathi` assemble regularly for morning walk, exercise, yoga & then chit chat. It has been very heartening to observe that most members of this group have been taking very active interest in the maintenance & upkeep of the park.They co-ordinate closely with the horticulture staff of DDA & receive active cooperation from the supervisor & his team of malis. Close rapport is also maintained by them with the seniors of the supervisor. This has resulted in a very healthy work environment , responsible for better growth & upkeep of the said park.

To motivate & felicitate the staff, functions are organized by Dwarka Forum[an active civil-society organization], ANHLGT[Ladies Group], PAHAL, DWARKA PARICHAY,DWARKA CITY, in association with this Senior Citizen Group when token prizes are distributed to the Local Body staff, etc,besides organizing other activities. It appears, these small gestures made/makes the staff very happy as subsequently, much more enthusiasm & regularity of the staff have been/is noticed. This led/leads to better care of the flower beds, grassy lawns & the flowering trees, & neighbouring area, etc.

Every year, on 5th June, the World Enviornment Day, the Senior Citizen Group organizes a function where tree plantation is done by the members of the Group along with the staff & senior citizens. A Painting Competition for the children of the staff is also organized., which was/is followed by prize distribution , refreshment & a photo session.

Some of the local papers carry the news along with the photographs of the function. Cost of the functions come from the contributions of the Senior Citizen Group.

Small but caring & thoughtful gestures & wise steps of the local active senior citizens , Dwarka Forum & other groups, have helped a great deal in motivating the staff of the civil/ horticulture departments of DDA & conservation,/scavenging department of SDMC. But , lot remains to be/can be done—.?

The result-Better maintained Park with flowers in bloom & flowering trees is giving everyday joy to the residents/visitors to the park. Though, there are some grey areas like upkeep of play equipments, shops, footpaths & clearing/replacement of dust bins which need more regular attention .But, I am sure, with the initiative & drive of the Senior Citizen Group & other visitors to the park, it will be possible, to get the needful done as close rapport with the authorities now exists & the bond will get stronger by the day.

The newly elected Mayor is evincing good interest in the follow-up activities of the SDKS members with the recalcitrant officials & is hoped by all, that situation would get better in the days to come.

I, suggest the new Mayor to think of having an exclusive TV channel/website for SDMC/Dwarka. This ,to my mind, besides, these, being good Grievance Redressal Medium, will be excellent Revenue-Earner?! How? We can discuss.

At many times, there have been stories of disappointments, dismay& disgust about the apathy & insensitivities of some of the concerned officials of the local bodies-DDA,SDMC, Encroachment Staff, Transport department, Police i/c Traffic Police etc etc, too.

But, this is a challenge worth taking up.

Residents living in other sectors of Dwarka/ various parts of Delhi can take a cue from this example of active/thoughtful community participation in the maintenance of civic infrastructure. For the authorities, too, this is a good example of seeking complementary efforts of the citizens, which can be replicated elsewhere, too.

More ideas in the next piece- if these interest the concerned departments & the readers?