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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

‘Corporators indifferent to people’s needs’

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 18, 2013
First Published: 01:31 IST(18/4/2013) | Last Updated: 02:15 IST(18/4/2013)

Citizens submitted an average of 302 complaints every day concerning civic services and amenities, but in the 10 months after they were elected, corporators raised only 672 questions on issues that concerned Mumbaiites at meetings held in the city’s 16 ward committees.

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Despite staggering civic problems and citizens’ concerns, one in five questions was about naming or renaming roads.

“The data reveals that there is a shift of interest from local issues to frivolous or larger city-oriented concerns,” said Milind Mhaske, project director,

Praja Foundation, which undertook a study on the functioning of ward committees between March and December 2012, after the civic elections.

“People vote for corporators to ensure that their immediate local concerns are addressed. If immediate concerns are replaced with frivolous issues such as renaming roads, it is worrying; it mocks the democratic system.” The survey

The white paper, which was presented on Wednesday, was prepared using data obtained from the Central Complaint Registering System of the civic body through the Right to Information Act.

While citizens’ key concerns are the poor condition of roads, overflowing drains and manholes, uncleared garbage and leaks in water pipelines, 45 of the 227 newly-elected corporators have not bothered to ask many questions to address such issues.

Activists and political experts highlighted the need for regular interactions and more effective grievance redressal mechanisms.

“The findings indicate that corporators are not concerned about addressing local issues. They are out of sync with the people and their issues. The lack of participation in the ward-level decision-making process indicates that the distribution of effective authority and power are skewed,” said Professor Uttara Sahasrabudhe from the department of civics and politics, University of Mumbai.

Corporators, however, justified their stand. “We address citizens’ concerns directly when they approach us. Addressing complaints through the committee ends up becoming more time-consuming than otherwise,” said Rais Shaikh, party leader, Samajwadi Party.

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