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Delhi govt's Bhagidari programme wins at Singapore World Cities Summit

india Updated: Jun 29, 2010 17:35 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times

Delhi might still have some catching up to do with cities like London, New York, Tokyo or Singapore when it comes to providing world class urban infrastructure, but here is one governance initiative that has won accolades from policy makers and experts at the second edition of the ongoing World Cities Summit in Singapore.

The city government’s ambitious “Bhagidaari” programme – citizen’s participation in governance -- was among the top four finalists at the Lee Kuan Yew World City prize announced on Tuesday at the summit.

While Bilbao City in – which houses the famous Guggenheim Museum – became the first recipient of the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, instituted last year, the other two finalists – besides Delhi – included Melbourne and Curitiba, .

Delhi government launched the ambitious Bhagidaari programme way back in 2000 with the idea to involve citizens through Resident Welfare Association’s (RWA) in finding solutions to civic problems affecting them. “We started off with 11 RWAs and today we have 2300 of them working with us. With our support these RWAs have taken up projects like rain water harvesting and maintenance of parks,” said Keshav Chandra, special secretary, Delhi government.

But Delhi could learn a lesson or two from Bilbao city, which won the award. Bilbao was an industrial city. It was badly affected by floods in 1983. But not to be daunted, the city government prepared a road map of urban regeneration.

“We not only rebuilt our hard infrastructure but also undertook projects like setting up the Guggenheim museum, theatres, sport centres, promenades along the restored Bilbao river front, etc. From an industrial city we transformed into a city rich in art and culture. The award is important to us as it highlights the fact that a city should continually undergo rejuvenation to remain relevant. We undertook various urban infrastructure and renewal projects over the last 25 years to transform the city,” said Dr Inaki Azkuna, Mayor of Bilbao.

Curitiba, – another finalist -- was selected for its efficient public transport network. The country was the first to introduce the Bus Rapid Transit System – which was replicated in other countries including . “When we started the BRT a decade back we had 27,000 passengers traveling in the bus every day. Today we are carrying two million passengers a day. Its a system which is not only sustainable but environment friendly as well,” said Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba .