Fighting for civic amenities: Pune citizen groups empower residents to act

Social groups help citizens raise issues in their neighbourhood before the authorities

pune Updated: Aug 01, 2018 15:34 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,maharashtra,pune metropolitan regional development
The PMC has started building a wall around the playground, adjacent to its ward office. Dattatray Gaikwad, former mayor, has written to the civic authorities demanding that the work be stopped so that the playground could continue to be used by everyone.(HT Photo)

Many citizen forums working in areas that fall under the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) and Pune metropolitan regional development area (PMRDA) are slowly and steadily paving the way for a new democratic citizens’ rights movement.

With citizen groups helping citizens raise issues, such as drainage, water, roads, garbage, health care and education before the authorities, the residents are able to meet the heads of various departments without seeking the guidance from elected representatives and corporators.

Residents said that local representatives are supposed to help corporators in the planning and budgeting of projects in the area. However, in reality, the public representatives elect members to the ward based on political connections rather than people who are familiar with the problems in their neighbourhood.

The members of these social groups are empowering citizens to fight for their rights using the facilities provided civic and government machinery. Even the civic forum representatives believe that many elected representatives across all party lines are discharging their responsibilities with vested interests. The forums allege that the elected representatives rig the system for their benefit and it is the public who stand to lose.

Citizen forums, including Wagholi housing societies association (WHSA), Ivy apartments and villas association, Wagholi; Mohammadwadi citizens forum; Kondhwa citizens Initiative; NIBM road residents forum (NRRF); Kirkatwadi development forum; Wireless colony Area forum; Baner citizens forum; Sus-Pashan residents association and Dhanori citizens forum, have been demanding basic amenities like round-the-clock water supply, good roads, proper traffic management, good solid waste management projects and an end to tanker mafia menace. All their protests so far have been without the support of their elected representatives. The public now view the citizen groups as a better option when compared to the elected representatives.

Though WHSA has been pursuing a number of issues related to civic amenities like water, good roads and solid waste management plant, recently it succeeded in discontinuation of the voter registration drive by changing the venue. Earlier, it was being conducted in residential societies.

“Our efforts helped enrolment of 5,000 plus new voters in the electoral list. During each drive, we got a huge response under the strict observation of election commission officials and active participation from citizens. Inclusion of new voters may have changed the mathematics of local politics as people have started demanding development of Wagholi. That has made local political interest adverse to our ongoing voter registration drive and they interfered. We have been let down by the elected representatives,”said Sanjeev Kumar Patil, director, WHSA.

NIBM annexe citizens watch group member Daljeet Goraya, who has been fighting for an approach road in Mohammadwadi area for the past seven years, said, “PMC and its official machinery has become corrupt. The entire chain of elected representatives, contractors, bureaucrats and other stakeholders are working like an organised crime syndicate and denying citizens their right to a proper road. The situation is so bad that if the residents don’t wake up to the institutional criminality of PMC then they will be forced to live under the constant fear of the powerful and rich syndicate which has no concern for the civic woes of residents. We demand a CBI investigation into the functioning of PMC ,” he said.

First Published: Aug 01, 2018 14:22 IST