Mumbai’s Civic Body Puts Mumbai To Shame

Pix By Rajan Ranshoor

 

With every passing year the condition of the administration of MCGM shows continued deteriorating. This year was no exception. Check this: It takes an average of 13 days to address complaints while the Citizens’ Charter stipulates 3 days; P/N, L, and D wards continue to be the worst projected wards in terms of civic services for the years – 2016 to 2018; The total number of pending questions has risen by approximately 5 times in the last 4 years; The average days taken to answer Point of Order questions are 128 days in the last 4 years; 91% of the Councillors in the last four years have asked less than 10 questions in Ward Committee meetings; It took over 1000 days to close an isolated five questions; four of which were from the F/S and F/N Ward Committee and 71 councillors have asked less than 10 questions in last four years.

A report on the working of Ward Committees and Civic Problems in Mumbai, reveals that, with every passing year the condition of the administration of MCGM shows continued deteriorating. Every year, the Mumbai based NGO, Praja Foundation releases a report on the working of Ward Committees and Civic Problems in Mumbai.

This year too, the country’s richest Municipal Corporation showed an overall poor performance in the redressal of citizens’ civic complaints. The civic administration, which is a service providing body, has revealed itself to be inefficient and lax when it comes to resolving civic issues. On an average, ninety-one percent of the Councillors in the last four years have asked less than 10 questions in Ward Committee meetings.

Councillors like Jyotsna Parmar (G/N ward) and Ujjwala Modak (K/E Ward) have not asked a single question in Ward Committee meetings across the last four years. If this is not enough, there has also been an increase (109 questions in 2014 to 161 questions in 2015) in questions relating to ‘renaming of roads’. That means one out of every other question that councillors ask are on the issue of renaming roads!

Nitai Mehta, Founder and Managing Trustee of Praja Foundation and Milind Mhaske, Project Director at Praja addressing a conference at the Mumbai Press Club today

Nitai Mehta, Founder and Managing Trustee of Praja Foundation and Milind Mhaske, Project Director at Praja addressing a conference at the Mumbai Press Club today

Nitai Mehta, Founder and Managing Trustee of Praja Foundation, says, “Deonar’s massive fire in late January was caught on NASA’s satellite radar and live streamed around the world. While the satellites’ usually capture the picturesque beauty of the iconic wonders of the world like the Great Wall of China or the Pyramids from Egypt; the Deonar destruction images were the images from India. This incident directly leads to questions on the sorry state of civic services in the city. Praja has been continuously highlighting this state of affairs over the last few years. And in turn underlying core issues of the governance of the city. Why does Mumbai still not have a waste segregation system in place? Why do incidents like Deonar happen in the first place? Don’t we have enough financial resources? Of course we have. Then do we lack manpower? Or is it the lack of technology? The resonant fact remains that we have them all but what we lack is thus a proactive administration”.

Milind Mhaske, Project Director at Praja further added, “we have the system to resolve the complaints of people but what about the time it takes to do so? The maximum numbers of days taken to answer some Point of Order questions were actually 1000 days. The broad issues that were raised in these questions fall into the general categories of: illegal construction, facilities and use of public space, potholes, and garbage related issues, out of which four questions are from F/N and F/S ward committee. MCGM took an average of 87 days to resolve complaints involving ‘Repairs to pipe sewers’ issues in F North ward which should have taken just 7 day according to the Citizens’ Charter. What is the point of having all new technology, manpower and money, if we are not able to address these important issues on time?”

MCGM in November last year stopped the ‘Voice of Citizen’ online portal, which had previously allowed citizens to conveniently report complaints regarding potholes on roads directly. While the officials reasoned that they intended to replace the portal with an ‘in-house’ software, the only news that has been released so far in 2016 is about the creation of a ward-wise Facebook page that would allow citizens to report issues and register complaints on road related issues.

“Now while becoming social media savvy is definitely a positive approach, the focus of the administration should have been on centering the already established Central Complaint Registration System (CCRS) through hotline (1916), walk-ins, and online portal alongside social media”, Mehta
adds.

Another important thing to see here is, 6 councillors are holding two offices after becoming MLA/MP, out of which 5 are MLAs and 1 MP. When an MLA becomes MP they have to leave one of the elected offices. The average attendance was an abysmal 21% in the ward committees, while three of them didn’t ask a single question.

According to Mhaske, “In Delhi, Municipal Councillors also have to leave their offices if they get elected as MLA or MP. Why do they hold two offices when they don’t even come for the meetings regularly? The Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888 needs to be modified so that a person can hold only one elected office. Along with these policy issues of the administration, there is also a glaring issue with the way our legislators work. Every elected representative in the city represents approximately eighty thousand people on an average. The responsibility of this elected representative is then to represent her or his ward problems and citizen grievances in the ward committee meeting. However, the sad truth is, grievances and core issues are often side-lined because representatives are not doing their jobs!”

Mehta concludes, “Mumbai already has a functioning robust legislative framework. However, retrospectively, the emphasis of the city’s custodians on replacing, recreating, and reacting rather than improving and evolving at the core is the crux of the problem. We have enough in our hands, but we are unaware of how to use it. Administration should work on how to use the existing schemes and technology effectively with the minimum response time”.

The Entire White can be accessed at… http://www.praja.org/documents/white-paper