Thursday, March 24, 2016

Corporator, we should meet often and work together for our ward

Dear Corporator, 
you might not remember me but I remember seeing you in a marriage function in the neighborhood last year. I have not seen you ever since. I appreciate the fact that you have attended all the marriages, openings of shops and other social functions in the neighbourhood. Five years back, when you came to my building to ask for our votes, you promised that we will be in touch. I never realised that ‘being in touch’ means you will be attending all the social events in the area, or occasionally we will see your face on the posters and hoardings wishing us for various festivals.
I thought we will have a dialogue about the developmental issues in our municipal ward. But we never got a chance to do that. Now, it is again time for the municipal elections and I am likely to see you again. I hope, you are not relying on an assumption that I will be voting for a particular party based on national or state politics. This time, I have decided to vote for a local candidate who works locally and not based on the party lines. Because the state level or national level politicians are not going to hear my pleas about the garbage collection or footpaths in my ward.
I guess you have put some benches here and there with your name on it. I am not sure if you have done anything else apart from putting these benches. Isn’t it too ad hoc! I don’t even know how much budget you had for the development works. How did you spend it? How did you decide the priorities? When you get elected for five years, shouldn’t you, along with other corporators, decide a roadmap for spending the budget in a planned manner?
Let me make a quick list of the problems in the ward. The door-to-door garbage collection is working alright, but the sweeping of streets and the garbage collections from the streets is not at all efficient. The street garbage is openly burnt which is a health hazard. There are many unsafe spots on the roads in our ward. It is dangerous for anyone to cross the roads – especially so for senior citizens. There are no footpaths to walk on, or safe pedestrian crossings. Every time we raise this issue, we are told that we don’t make footpaths because they will be encroached! Isn’t it absurd! Some areas in the ward are suffering from unhygienic conditions and irregular water supply. Some of the street lights do not work. Are there any plans for more planting trees in our ward? How do we tackle these issues? There are many more in my list.
I will probably not receive any answers to these questions, but that doesn’t mean that I will stop asking. You probably don’t like the ‘concerned citizen’ types like me. Let’s put the personal likes and dislikes aside to try and make a deliberative democracy work at the local level. Shouldn’t we have monthly meetings at the neighborhood level and a large one annually at the area level to discuss your budget and the priorities? Please involve us, discuss things with us, make us participate in your plans for the ward.
Thanks for patience.
a concerned citizen from your ward – our ward (though you know me as a voter).

(2nd November, 2015: DNA Ahmedabad edition, Cities Supplement, Page 5)

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