Ahead of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections in February, citizen groups have started placing their demands before political parties. Free A Billion, a citizen group has released 10 principles required for better urban governance in the city. RTI Activist Shailesh Gandhi has also released a list of seven promises.
The civic elections will be held on February 21 and the results will be announced on February 23.
Identifying shortcomings in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act, 1888, Free A Billion has drafted an urban governance bill for an empowered and accountable government.
The 10 principles, which are their demands, include a directly-elected city mayor, financial and legislative autonomy for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), a decentralised process of decision-making, with greater citizen participation and a system to ensure complete accountability and transparency.
Biney Koul from Free A Billion said the organisation has been asking people to vote for None of the Above (NOTA) during this elections as a mark of protest against the poor civic services in the city.
Gandhi demands that the BMC handle all open spaces in the city without the interference of a private party, repair potholes within 48 hours, ensure a five-year guarantee for bitumen roads, publish funds spent by corporators on the official website and conduct a survey on learning-levels in civic-run schools.
“Citizens should demand these promises from the political parties seeking their votes this election,” Gandhi said.
He has also demanded disciplinary action against officials delaying files. “There are numerous cases in which citizens do not get a response to their applications, representations or complaints. Section 64 C of the MMC Act mandates that decisions on all files should be taken within 45 days, failing which, disciplinary action must be taken against the defaulting officer,” he added.
Last week, the Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a group of retired engineers, also released their citizen charter demanding better civic services for the city.