Even as a jubilant saffron combine gets set to roll out its vision for Mumbai for the next five years, promising us flyovers, theme parks and parking space, many citizens and experts feel the alliance should focus on making systemic changes in the civic administration for better governance of the city.
Starting with making changes in the tendering process and introducing third party audits, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) should resolve the three issues for which it has faced flak: Financial indiscipline, its reluctance to blacklist errant contractors and its lack of initiative in introducing transparency in financial matters.
In the HT-Cfore survey conducted last November, 73% of the respondents said corruption is affecting the BMC’s functioning.
Experts said a good beginning would be to make it mandatory for corporators to declare their assets annually. As reported in HT’s February 10 edition, many corporators’ wealth had risen by as much as 3,300% in five years. Prakash Sanglikar, retired deputy municipal commissioner, said: “Corporators should bring in transparency by declaring assets every year. They can also make public the accounts of corporator funds at the end of every year.”
Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, Vinod Tawde from the BJP admitted there was need for greater financial transparency, which could curtail the contractor-corporator-official nexus. “We are considering allotting contracts only to bigger and well-known firms for carrying out civic works,” Tawde said.
In its Mumbai First conclave, HT had presented a citizens’ charter to politicians, urging them to fulfill the demands of more than 10,000 Mumbaiites, which includes providing a corruption-free administration.
Pankaj Joshi, urban planner and architect with the Urban Design Research Institute, said the revision of the Development Plan (DP) is a good way to start. “The fresh lot of corporators will have to approve a realistic DP, which must go through periodic audits to ensure implementation is happening,” he said. The new DP could put an end to ad-hoc changes in reservation of plots.”