Interview with Munish Sharma, commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Manesar
In a major administrative reshuffle, the Haryana government on Thursday night transferred 24 bureaucrats across the state. Munish Sharma, 2014-batch IAS officer, was appointed as the new commissioner of the recently formed Municipal Corporation of Manesar (MCM).
Sharma, who is the additional labour commissioner, will be holding the charge of MCM, along with his existing duties. The role of a municipal corporation is not unfamiliar to Sharma, who has earlier served as the additional commissioner of Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) from November 2018 till December 2019. However, this is the first time that he is leading a civic body.
In an interview
with Hindustan Times, Sharma said that he has several new ideas for the civic body. The need for constructing zero-energy government buildings, laying focus on utilising civic body’s resources towards health and education, working in close coordination with MCG, and using past experience to do course correction are some of the key areas that the new civic body will work on.
Excerpts from the interview:
Unlike other parts of Haryana, Gurugram and Manesar are the only cities in the state where two municipal corporations share a border with each other. Would MCM work like MCG or have its own style of functioning?
MCM is a brand new institution, while Gurugram, on the other hand, has really come up in a big way in the last 20 years. It now provides a major share of the state’s revenue. So, creating a separate corporation for Manesar is a major opportunity for the city. There are many cities in the world that are governed by different bodies and yet they have their own distinct flavour and sense of identity. I want MCM and MCG to work in a continuum of sorts — similar to the way the cities of Panchkula, Chandigarh and Mohali operate. If you look at cities like Ajmer and Pushkar in Rajasthan or for that matter Kyoto and Osaka in Japan, they’re not very far apart but they each have something different and unique to offer.
What is the one feature you want MCM to stand out for?
Globally, there is a lot of focus on sustainability and lean development. Citizens are also aware of the challenges posed by changing environmental patterns and global warming. So whatever development we do now, we’ll have to plan it in such a way that it takes care of the environment. When MCM is constructing new buildings, we can look at adopting the green building concept, such as the one used for the Indira Parvyavaran Bhawan in Delhi. A lot of architecture in our country has historically been smart and genius. Recently, Jaisalmer’s Rajkumari Ratnavati School was in the news for being an AD 100 award-winning sustainable building. Diana Kellogg, the New York-based architect, who completed the project, has addressed the unique needs posed by the geography and culture of Jaisalmer. Within the country, we have a lot of home-grown talent with international exposure who can create similar marvels.
What civic areas do you want MCM to focus upon? Are there any first-hand experience from your time in MCG that you want to replicate in MCM?
Corporations are meant to provide civic amenities like water, roads, sewage, etc. Corporations in Delhi do a lot of work in terms of health and education as well. While I was at MCG, my predecessors had started focussing on the health sector — something which I want to carry on in Manesar as well. Besides offering dispensaries from where people can get medicines, work on preventive healthcare will also be looked into. We can focus on helping people stay fit by connecting them to the traditional ways of eating and using open-air gyms and parks. As far as education is concerned, I want to identify volunteers looking for opportunities to get associated with government schools and offer assistance. Another feature I want to incorporate in Manesar is the outlines of the Haryana Vision Zero road safety program so that corrective measures can be taken to bring down road collisions at accident-prone stretches in Manesar. This will also ensure equal allocation of road space to all users.
Almost all the staff deputed in MCM so far are MCG officials who have been given additional charges. Would this be a disadvantage, especially since officials would have to look into the affairs of two big corporations?
We are a new civic body, and we need a lot of hand-holding in the initial stages. A lot of work needs to be done across various departments. We, therefore, need people with proven experience so that they can share vital inputs such as the type of technologies needed for getting certain works done or the ways certain challenges need to be tackled.