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Juhu citizens assume office

Juhu's ward no. 63 ? where lavish houses overlook teeming slums ? has given the country its first citizen corporator, writes Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007 18:12 IST

Fifteen years ago, in Brazil’s Porto Alegre, 50,000 citizens came together to participate in the civic administration.

The result: between 1989 and 1996, 98 per cent households got access to water. The number of children enrolled in public schools doubled. Thirty kilometres of roads were paved every year and tax revenue increased by nearly 50 per cent because a more transparent system motivated people to pay taxes.

Mumbaiites living a continent away, may read this, marvel at it and dismiss it with a this-can’t-happen-in-our-country shrug. But Utopia may be closer than we imagine. As close as Mumbai’s ward no. 63.

Adolf D'Souza (centre) and his area sabha representatives want to make Juhu a model ward. (HT photo by Vijayanand Gupta).

This Juhu ward — where lavish houses overlook teeming slums — has given the country its first citizen corporator. Adolf D’Souza, an activist and Juhu resident, won the recent civic elections as an Independent.

And now, he and a core group of people’s representatives have got down to work. On Saturday, they held a workshop on how to turn Juhu into a model ward. Held at Vidyanidhi school, the workshop was attended by over 75 enthusiastic participants including doctors, engineers, architects, students etc.

Founder of Bangalore-based Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy Ramesh Ramanathan, who conducted the workshop with former bureaucrat Shankar Menon, said: “I don’t think ward no. 63 knows what it has achieved. We are 700 miles away but we can feel the impact of what you have done.”

Email author: sweta.ramanujan@hindustantimes.com