Additional charges give MCG chance to avoid missteps in Manesar
As many as 22 officials of the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) have been given additional charges in the newly formed Municipal Corporation of Manesar (MCM), which provides them with a chance to avoid missteps and issues of the MCG.
The MCM was formed on December 23, 2020, with MCG commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh appointed its first commissioner. It will be responsible for all civic activities in 124.32 square kilometres of its jurisdiction.
In over a decade since the MCG’s formation in 2008, issues of basic infrastructure, a multiplicity of agencies, lack of online services, non-inclusion of residents in development and lack of access to MCG offices have hampered smooth functioning of the agency.
Officials said that setting up roads, drainage and water lines before urban expansion; establishing coordination among various public bodies; using an e-office mode of operating; integrating RWAs into localised projects; and setting up zonal offices are some of the key matters they want to incorporate in the MCM from its beginning.
Besides Singh, the MCG’s additional municipal commissioner, deputy municipal commissioner, chief town planner, senior medical officer, and officials of the engineering, electrical, taxation and sanitation wings have been given additional charges.
The MCG was formed nearly a decade after Gurugram had already witnessed unprecedented urbanisation. Due to the absence of a municipal body and proper urban planning, the city’s civic amenities continue to remain heavily affected. Over the last 12 years, MCG has always been playing catch-up to Gurugram’s civic mess.
Each time there is heavy rain, the city is inevitably waterlogged due to either absence of drainage lines or choked drains. As recently as 2019, underpasses in the city were inundated and had to be shut to the public, which compounded traffic issues.
The newer areas of the city — sectors 58-115 — where over half a million people are estimated to be living, continue to be hampered by civic issues such as poor road connectivity and absence of streetlights. In some of the newer sectors, condominiums and societies are yet to get direct water or sewerage connections, and remain heavily dependent on private water tankers and septic tanks.
Vinay Pratap Singh said that in areas falling under the MCM, the majority of urbanisation has occurred in areas bordering Gurugram. He said that there are many parts of the city where urbanisation is yet to take place, giving MCM officials an opportunity to properly lay utilities and above all, the time to do it properly.
“Prior to leasing out land for housing or industrial projects in areas which are yet to be developed, we will ensure that utilities have been provided so that expansion is carried out around it and there is no shortage or absence of civic amenities,” said Singh.
Coordination among agencies
Officials said that although the MCM is set to become an independent civic body once officials lay the groundwork, the functioning would be streamlined so that both the MCG and MCM work together for large-scale projects that would cater to demand of both the cities.
“In the initial period, both the MCG and the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) were operating separately. However, we soon realised that our objectives and work were not only similar but also largely covered the same areas or overlapped. Hence, for multiple projects such as monsoon preparedness, cleaning of drains and setting up of cycle tracks, the MCG and GMDA now work together. The MCG and MCM will also have a similar arrangement,” said Singh.
After its formation in 2017, the GMDA took over all the master roads and drains from the MCG. The MCG subsequently handled only arterial roads and drains. However, after a year of operations, the two bodies realised that their projects needed to be coordinated.
For instance, if the arterial drains leading to a master drain or vice versa were in a bad condition, there was no outlet for stormwater or sewage to flow. Often, the MCG and GMDA officials would clear their respective lines only to find that the line ahead was choked, making the entire project redundant.
So far, the GMDA has been handling the master roads and drains in Manesar, while the arterial works were taken care of by village panchayats.
In one of the first announcements since being appointed the MCM commissioner, Singh said that the new civic body will operate as an e-office. Under an e-office, all files are digitised and approved and sanctioned via e-signatures. The GMDA is the only government authority in Gurugram which offers a complete array of services on the internet.
Due to the entire record being digital, officials said that discrepancies, such as forged signatures, missing files or misappropriation of funds — all of which are a regular occurrence in the MCG — will be difficult to execute as it will leave a digital footprint.
The MCG has been working on digitising its entire mode of operations since December 2018. However, barring its property tax wing, none of the other wings has been completely digitised so far.
“E-office is the best way of operating as it has many benefits. Even if an official is not present at their designated office space, he/she can approve or sanction a project from any location through e-office. This mode of operating will not only expedite work but also bring transparency to the daily mode of operations,” said Singh.
Including residents in local works
It took the MCG officials nearly nine years to fully realise the benefits of incorporating residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) in their operations. Since 2017, of the 800 parks in the city, nearly 500 are being managed by local RWAs, with the rest by the MCG.
“By decentralising the upkeep of parks, the MCG has been able to create a system where parks are managed at a micro-level rather than on a macro basis. This way, the standard of parks has improved significantly over the past three years across the city,” said a senior MCG official privy to the matter.
If the RWAs fail to maintains the standards in the parks, the MCG reserves the power to take over the management. Further, the MCG also holds competitions and offers monetary incentives to the 10 best parks.
Further, the MCG has also started open-air gyms at a few selected parks, where RWAs have volunteered to look after its upkeep as well. After the equipment at its first two open-air gyms — near Kanhai village and St Thomas Marg — were broken and items were stolen soon after their launch in February 2016, the MCG decided to seek the assistance of RWAs to make the venture successful.
MCG officials said that they would be adopting similar strategies with RWAs in Manesar and incorporating them within the MCM from the start to increase surveillance and utility of localised projects.
Even though the MCG has four zones, residents of Zone 3 — those living along Golf Course Road and nearby areas — had to visit the civic body’s main office in Sector 34, an industrial sector, located on the outskirts at a distance of 9 kilometres, to get their issues redressed for nearly 11 years.
In July 2019, the MCG opened the Zone 3 office in Sector 42, at a distance of around a kilometre, to address both the distance issue and also deploy staff to address the residents’ concerns and expedite local projects.
In Gurugram, there are two zonal offices at present for residents to get their issues addressed. Offices for zones 1 and 2 are at Civil Lines, while residents of Zone 4 have to reach out to officials at the Sector 34 office.
Singh has already announced that zonal offices will be made in MCM to give better services to residents and the civic body will set up seven zones in Manesar.