Things are changing in Block 36 of Trilokpuri, a resettlement colony in East Delhi.
The stained walls of classrooms wear fresh paint, streetlights illuminate once-dark alleys, neighbourhoods have new drains.
No, an election is not around the corner nor is a foreign dignitary set to visit. What's brought about this change is the will of citizens to have a say in governance.
In what may be termed as the first attempt at making public representatives directly responsible to their constituency, residents of Trilokpuri, with the help of a group of NGOs, are calling the shots in chalking out how the fund assigned to their municipal councillor is used.
Delhi's municipal councillors are assigned Rs 2 crore annually to use at their disposal for their ward. The sum, however is rarely utilized for the benefit of people.
The Swaraj Campaign - the brainchild of a group of NGOs-seeks just to correct this anomaly. And the instrument of correction, working at the micro-level, is the mohalla (neighbourhood) meeting.
Citizens and councillors get together in these meetings-planned by the NGOs--and people bring up the issues they want tackled.
The 80,000-strong Trilokpuri ward, for instance, was divided into eight parts, each to host its own mohalla sabha once a month.
Dr Hari Shankar Kashyap, the municipal councillor of Trilokpuri is one of a growing list of MCD councillors who have been submitting themselves to the principle of participatory democracy by conducting such meetings
"I have tied up with Swaraj Campaign under which I meet the people in open public meetings It is the residents whose satisfaction is the deciding factor in releasing payment for any project," said Kashyap.
And so far the meetings have borne fruit.
S P Mehra, a resident of Trilokpuri said, “I had complained about ill maintained streetlights near my house. They have now been repaired."
Two such meetings have been conducted in village Badarpur Khadar of Sonia Vihar with area councillor Annapurna Mishra.
In this village with a population of about 1500, that has no electricity, no school, no ration shop and no roads, over 100 men and women have decided they wanted a school, ration cards for every household, voter identification cards, widow and old-age pension for six identified women and a pucca road.
“We have nominated six for pension. Earlier the councillors used to decide themselves who will be given pension,” said Supan Chaudhary, Badarpur village sarpanch (chief).