Every morning we wake up to daily chores and the struggle begins. We vote, we elect our municipal councilors, mayors and ward commissioners yet the basic services are not met. Who is to be blamed? We still long for water connections, sewage facilities, a road that we can walk on. Why is it that nothing changes no matter who we vote for and elect?
The citizens look for services they pay for but are rarely met. A recent poll shows that 56 percent citizens want weekly market to be better organized. 97 percent want waste segregation and door to door waste collection to be a priority. They want their councilors to have implementation capabilities and be honest. At the same time they feel that landfills are not an option and waste disposal should be improved. Almost fifty percent feels that municipal services have deteriorated in the last five years.
These results are startling. Clearly municipal corporations are operating in a far-away land, completely detached from the reality. Authorities make tall claims. In January Madhya Pradesh claimed that it had become the first state in the country to achieve hundred percent door to door garbage collection. It was declared by none less than Maya Singh, Urban Housing and Development Minister. The government also claimed that solid waste management at landfill sites and processing is an ongoing process in partnership with private ventures. One can only take the MP government’s claim with a pinch of salt as the survey is still under process. The skepticism about MP government’s claim is warranted but there have been some success stories.
Take for example the city of Indore. The commercial hub of the state, it was like any other North Indian city and people had stopped visiting once popular hangouts. But it turned itself around and became the number one city in the SwachhSurvekshan done in 2017 by the Ministry. The city’s road to success was a hard and long one. In 2015-16, the city leadership decided to remove the dustbins. It certainly raised a few eyebrows. On a pilot basis two wards were chosen. It was extended slowly to other wards in the city. In the process door to door collection of garbage was institutionalized. Residents who would otherwise collect the garbage in a plastic bag and throw it in public dustbins would wait for municipal workers to come and collect the garbage. Active citizen cooperation and support is also a vital input in our quest for more livable cities. Success in vital services sometimes eludes us due to inadequate citizen participation. Waste segregation is a crucial part of waste management. But in many cities, the results on segregation are sub-optimal. Water conservation is another area where citizen cooperation is essential for superior outcomes. But often citizens do not care to follow simple water-saving tips. Littering in public spaces is common too. This too must change.What is a welcome change is that new start-ups are making life easier for common citizens. The new apps can help you with the traffic information. If you are in a new city you can find your way through the city with the help of various apps available. Start-ups are making a mark. But certainly they cannot replace the municipal services. We need a robust system that will make the residents of a particular city comfortable and enjoy the services at their door step.