Vijay K. Saluja
Senior Fellow[urban studies]
Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi
I & my wife came to Singapore in the last week of September. This is the time of the year when Singapore gets rain, more frequently almost everyday for some hours. The rains are accompanied by thunder & huge lightning,too. Rains are not that light. Most of the times it is heavy downpour. But, one did/does not notice water logging in any part of the city, which we have travelled/visited in the last one week! There are no potholes anywhere-neither on the main roads or any footpaths, nor in residential areas or business districts etc. Daily life continues uninterrupted. Everyone reaches their places of work in time. There is no flooding of some part of metro or airport? The dailies have no material to write about knee deep water on main roads/in colonies & no pictures of stranded cars , sunken footpaths/roads or urchins splashing in water puddles!
We, from Delhi, feel quite a bit out of place. We are used to different paradigm/scenarios. Along with the stories of haplessness of commuters, office-goers, some house-falls, we are tuned to reading the statements from our municipal officials, elected representatives, ministers, about the efforts made every year about cleaning of drains, most of these covered with RCC pipes/slabs etc etc & the quantity of mulba[garbage] taken out from these drains [& left alongside the drains for days together for vegetation to appear on the mounds of taken out garbage!
In subsequent days, newspapers are filled with charges & counter charges about the funds being misspent & also some sad incidents of drowning in uncovered manholes etc & then the panel discussions on various TV channels!
In Singapore, most of the well planned/designed/maintained drains/nullahs are open & kept clean at all times. This is one of the secret of non-flooding. Though, there are many other reasons also, which I will discuss in my next articles about Singapore, as I will be here for some time? There Orchard Road Area-the main CBD, was flooded last year & immediate steps-short/long term, which they took to combat this problem will also be discussed.
How much time, energy & resources we spend on many avoidable activities around the year?! Secularism, Casteism, Regionalism, to name a few.
When Singapore, to my mind, is a great success story in city –management, then why we in Delhi & other cities in India, do not follow its best practices in this vital area? Why reinvent the wheel?
There is an urgent need for introspection by our city-managers. Delhi is not a world class city, as some claim it to be? Let us not delude ourselves!?
What parameters have been adopted by them[who proclaim] to say so? Our citizens are suffering due to the apathy , lack of commitment even knowledge/skill/integrity of most of our civic/city managers. Let us not waste time in avoidable bickering.The urgent need is to stop making Delhi an unlivable city. We all can do it. Let us request Singapore to share their city- management skills with us. Let us emulate their example.