Apex body needs to spruce up

Any urban local body has a lot to contribute to a city’s liveability.  Last few days, several developments have once again put the spotlight on Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). The latest was the news of takeover of eight colonies by the corporation from private builders. This means that all services such as road, sewerage, drainage, park and street lights as also issues such as security, encroachments etc of these private colonies would now be in MCG’s hands. It is also a time when MCG is getting operationalised “ward committees” in each of the 35 wards of the city to ensure citizens of these wards act as foot soldiers and watchdogs for maintenance of all civic activities and councillors play a more active role in local governance. There was also the news that MCG was able to utilise only 25 per cent of its budgeted funds in 2018-19.

All these developments point out towards the need for urgent capacity building within this large institution that has several departments and a complex organisation structure. To begin with, frequent changes at the top is very unsettling for bringing any lasting functional changes. The organisation structure also doesn’t allow any central intelligence to build up and very often the right hand doesn’t know the left hand. Responsibility and accountability remain loose and the organisation is always in a reactive gear than a pro-active mode. Motivation of staff to out-perform is also low. There is simply too much on the plate — too many functions to administer, several ongoing and new projects to be undertaken and too many special drives to be undertaken.

On its own, the MCG is trying to usher in positive changes. It has moved towards increasing use of IT, in project monitoring (e-samiksha) and encouraging online payments (e-payments) or grant of certificates etc. This has not only reduce legwork and paperwork for the residents, but also improved efficiency and removed delays.

The empanelment of vendors is another commendable step. A list of wet waste community composting agencies is provided on the MCG’s website. Similarly, for rainwater harvesting, three agencies for installing and maintaining rain water harvesting systems have been empanelled and listed on MCG’s website. MCG has also empanelled suction tank owners to collect sewerage from unapproved colonies and discharge it at specific disposal points. RWAs are often perplexed trying to find the right vendors for a particular task/initiative. Now, RWAs will now be encouraged to take up these at a greater speed.  Besides, a standard design for all road cross-sections in the city has been finalised. This will ensure that the contractors adhere to the basic requirements and all cross-sections in the city will have a similar design.

Then, several sustainable initiatives are being tried out such as water ATMs, multi-level parking, vertical gardens, etc. Bundh development, beautification of Badshahpur drain, development of green belts, nurseries, and rejuvenation of ponds.  As for city’s water management, boosting stations for canal water, a fully functional new sewerage treatment plant at Dhanwapur and setting up of six decentralised STPs and micro STPs in parks are some of the steps that are being taken up.

The move to create new social spaces is also commendable. An art and culture complex spanning over 8 acres is coming up in Sector 53. Enhancing sports facilities in the city is also on cards. Two new stadiums are being newly built while two others (Tau Devi Lal and Nehru Stadium) are being renovated. New badminton courts are coming up in the city. A state-of-the-art camera museum that showcases rare cameras, photographs and allied equipment at Chakkarpur Community Centre will be inaugurated this summer. Creating social spaces helps enrich living experience and help build the soul of the city, as people of all age groups and from all stratas converge at these places for an engaging experience.  

All in all, it is a promising but large development agenda and to administer these plans and projects efficiently and take-over new colonies, implementation and monitoring has to be geared up. Systems and procedures need to be defined and tightened and teams built to execute and monitor these projects well. MCG must also create ways and means to mobilise the city’s intelligentsia and talent in its development plan. There is a role and opportunity for local engineering firms, consultants, RWAs, CSR wings, corporates, NGOs, Progressive citizens can also contribute by becoming a part of ward committees.

While the role of Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) will remain largely strategic, and the role of Haryana Urban Development Agency will diminish, MCG will continue to carry the bulk of the city’s development and maintenance on its shoulder. The more efficient it is, the faster it will show results. GMDA is already creating a strategic development vision and plan for the city. If MCG too spruces up, hand-in-hand they can correct the “missing links” and ensure a better quality of life to the citizens.

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