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Fix it yourself!

New initiative empowers citizens to solve pothole problems, traffic and other civic issues on their own.

entertainment Updated: Aug 23, 2010 15:40 IST
Sneha Mahale

Do garbage piles, potholes, dilapidated structures, broken streetlights and traffic jams bother you? Just click a picture, fill up a form online and fix the problem yourself.

Urban Vision, a group associated with urban planning, has just launched a Citizen Watch initiative.

Spanning nine cities across India including Mumbai, the initiative hopes to create a constant, lively conversation with the general public about their community, boost their commitment to their city and also strengthen public awareness of various civic issues.

“Citizens are usually helpless when it comes to civic issues. They do not know which department to contact or seek help from. We hope to solve this problem and empower them,” says Prathima Manohar, founder, Urban Vision. Their aim is to get citizens involved and ensure that they contribute to their city’s betterment and not just sit back and criticise it.

On the website, citizens are asked to report on any civic issue they feel needs attention. For instance, if there is a pothole outside your house, click on the map to set a location. Also, take a picture of the pothole and upload it. Fill out a small form with details like the address. In the coming year, the plan is to set up an avenue to forward the information to the concerned department and get it resolved at the grassroots.

Citizen Watch also allows the use of an interactive map to notify fellow residents, resident welfare associations and local officials about problems in your neighborhood. You can create citizen watches for your neighbourhood as well.

In the month since its inception, the website has over 100 issues listed from Mumbai. “Potholes are the most common complaints. Traffic follows at a distant second,” says Manohar.

To ensure more citizen involvement, the group plans to start civic programmes across cities. The first takes place in Bengaluru later this month. It involves a competition between universities and corporates who fight it out online to report civic issues that plague their city.

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The same programme will then be brought to Mumbai and Delhi in December. Urban Vision has also tied up with eight NGOs to help mobilise action from the website and take these issues forward. They have also initiated a Civic Ambassador Programme that invites volunteers to assist them.

But for now, Manohar just wants more Mumbaikars to go online and report the issues they see around them. “But we don’t want people to just take up issues, report it and forget about it. We want them to help fix them.”