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Mumbai isn't happy

That's what the results of an intensive poll conducted by not-for-profit organisation Praja reveals -- 28,000 Mumbaiites polled give all 14 civic services by the BMC a below average rating. It's time you took a good, hard look at the people you vote into power this February

Our councillors better be worried. Mumbai has given the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) a big thumbs down. All 14 services provided to Mumbaiites, ranging from roads and water to hospitals and schools elicited a C grade (below 60 per cent) from citizens of 227 councillor constituencies that go to polls on February 16, 2012.

The revelations were Mumbaiites' responses to a recent survey conducted by Praja Foundation, a non-partisan not-for-profit voluntary organisation, in a bid to understand the perceptions of the electorate about the performance of their elected representatives.



This was done by measuring the qualitative productivity of the elected representatives in addressing the 14 parameters that affect common people in their day-to-day lives. The sample size for the survey was 28,707 people spread across 227 councillor constituencies.

The survey asked questions on how satisfied electorates are about the quality of public services (e.g. condition of roads, pollution, open space, sanitation etc) and also rated the civic administration on issues like law and order and corruption (of public officials).

"The civic corporation does not control issues such as crime, law and order issues, etc; but given the immensity of the civic elections, some of the components of the survey touch these areas," said Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja Foundation.



Says Nitai Mehta, managing trustee of Praja Foundation, in spite of Mumbai being the richest municipal corporation in the country and maybe in Asia, it should be getting the best quality of public services, which it doesn't.

The survey attributed grades to the aggregate scores in each of the 227 councillor constituencies. The grade A stood for Good (100 per cent to 90 per cent); B stood for Average (90 per cent to 60 per cent); C stood for Poor (60 per cent and below).



According to the survey, none of the 14 services provided for came in the A grade (above 90 per cent); in fact they are very near to the C grade (60 per cent and below).

"Our aim is to empower the citizen to participate in governance by providing knowledge and enlisting people participation," said Mehta. "We aim for ways in which the citizens can get politically active and involved beyond the ballot box, thus promoting transparency and accountability," Mehta added.

Praja had commissioned market research firm (Hansa Market Research) to conduct the survey supported by Titoo Ahluwalia (former Chairman and CEO, AC Neilsen -- ORG MARG), Dr CR Sridhar and
others.



> Expert Voices

Gerson da Cunha, convenor,
AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking for India)


"I have been closely observing the civic elections for the last 12 years and the core of the issue is two-folded. Firstly, the same people contest the election, and we (NGO's and like-minded people) did not mobilise citizens to demand and obtain better civic services. Do not expect anything from the elected representatives. They will do nothing for the people who elected them. The same saga will continue -- more potholes on city roads, parks and open space relinquished to builders, etc. If we want a change, people power is the only solution. Post the forthcoming civic election, it does not matter who is in power (Sena, BJP, Congress, NCP, etc), citizens should need to participate and demand better civic services, interact with elected representatives at the administrative level, and compel them to address our issues. Both the municipality and administration must become more transparent in their operations and accountable for their actions. Citizen volunteers will need to call authorities to verify claims and deliver on promises."



> South Mumbai Voices

Madhuri Thadani, housewife, Peddar Road
Electricity is very expensive, the quality of roads is very bad and the lack of drainage during the rains causes water logging. Taxis in the area constantly refuse rides, and that's a big problem.

Suniel Shetty, actor, Altamount Road
The biggest issue with the civic body is the bad planning of roads and potholes that make my life miserable. A 10-minute drive takes nearly two hours, which is nothing but a waste of fuel and time. All talk of Mumbai being the heart of the nation and commercial capital of the country is untrue when it doesn't even have the basic infrastructure.



> Expert speak

Kunti oza, chairperson, Clean Mumbai Foundation
"Cleanliness and solid waste is a major concern for the city today, and it is also the primary cause of health issues. Corporators seldom take up cleanliness issues. Citizens should ensure that their elected representatives, irrespective of the political party they are associated with, should be motivated to incorporate basic issues in their agenda - cleanliness and disposal of solid waste, infrastructure (no potholed roads and pavements), and finally address other issues. Citizens should hold their coporators accountable, if they fail to deliver."



M V Mirani, former principal secretary, Public Works Department
"Firstly, we must understand that the city's infrastructure -- stormwater drains, water supply pipes etc, are ageing and are being used beyond their capacity. The corporation and elected representatives, including the government, should do some long-term planning rather than fire-fighting by repairing leaks and pilferage instead of changing the entire system of old, eroded pipes, or covering potholes on select roads by doing patchwork. The citizen must force politicians to act rationally and compel them to change their approach."



Nayana Kathpalia, Co-convenor of Citispace, an NGO
"It is high time that citizens ensure that they vote for the right candidates and hold the BMC and elected representatives responsible and accountable for their acts. Another core issue for all the problems is that citizens, along with the corporation and elected representatives should look at certain civic laws like the Development Control Regulations, which are vague and not suitable for a city that is fast-moving. Instead of grumbling about the poor quality of life even after contributing to the exchequer, citizens need to come out and work with the system and assist them in bringing about out change."



> North Mumbai Voices

Sunil Akerkar, businessman, Borivli
The condition of various in-roads in Borivli is pathetic. Even rickshaws don't agree to ply on these roads. Many of these roads lack adequate footpaths, causing great discomfort to pedestrians. Pollution levels are also high here and this affects our health adversely, causing various respiratory disorders.



Cutie Kaul, beautician, Borivli
It's very difficult to get autos here, as many outstation trains halt at Borivli and rickshaw drivers prefer to ply outstation passengers as they can make more money on the basis of luggage. There have been cases of chain snatching, so I am not comfortable wearing jewellery and venturing out, especially at night. I have to ensure that I am travelling in my car or with my husband.



Sonal Kothari,service, Andheri (W)  
As work on the Mumbai Monorail has been on for a long time at Andheri, there is severe dust pollution that leads to respiratory allergies. The delayed work has also resulted in traffic congestion in the area at all hours of the day, as a result of which many rickshaws refuse to ply as they do not want to get caught up in traffic jams. People then have no choice but to get into buses that are already over-crowded.



Col Mahendra Pratap Choudhary, retired Army Officer, Andheri (W)
We have potholes aplenty and there is a problem of filth collection. Overflowing drains are seldom cleaned, and if cleaned, the filth is left on the roadside, which is never collected. Then, when roads are dug up, the same filth is put back into the nullah. The irony is that our local elected representatives are never available when we have a problem.



> North East mumbai Voices

Lakshmi Ravindra, corporate lawyer, Ghatkopar (W)
Encroachment and hawkers are a matter concern in and around Ghatkopar (W), as well as overflowing drainage, dug-up roads, overflowing garbage. They are making life miserable for residents but all our pleas have fallen on
deaf ears.

Deesha Vora,service, Mulund
One of our major concerns is the abrupt digging of roads by one agency or the other in the name of utility services, which in turn results in traffic congestion and dust pollution.



> North Central Mumbai Voices

Shailesh Patil, partner in a Tour company, Bandra (W)
The menace of hawkers on Hill Road and Linking Road leads to traffic snarls during peak hours. But otherwise, Bandra is one of the best places in the city to live, with very few civic issues, as the area has strong ALMs.

Anuradha Gore, retired principal, Vile Parle (E)
Initially we had water supply problems, but that has been solved after residents agreed to dig up borewells inside building premises. By and large, the roads in our area are better than the rest of Mumbai. Our big concern is the loss of greenery due to the profusion of high rises around us.



> South Central Mumbai Voices

Mayur Bhanushali,businessman, Chembur
The ongoing Mumbai Monorail work has destroyed several arterial roads and is creating major traffic congestion and noise / dust pollution. Cleanliness is also a major concern as garbage overflows from the bins and the roads are not cleaned. 

Rukmini Krishnamurthy, forensic scientist, Anushakti Nagar
We didn't face many issues inside Anushakti as the entire work is done by BARC, but outside campus, the civic body has failed miserably to curtail problems of water logging, potholed roads, overflowing drains, congested traffic etc.



What major problems have remained unsolved in the constituencies going to polls? Each of candidates likely to contest the upcoming civic election can make note of the worst issues plaguing the areas they are likely to represent

North Mumbai: (Borivli, Dahisar, Magathane, Kandivli East, Charkop, Malad West)  -- Cleanliness and sanitation
North west: (Jogeshwari East, Dindoshi , Goregaon, Versova, Andheri West, Andheri East) -- Water logging during rainy season
North East: (Mulund, Vikhroli, Bhandup West, Ghatkopar West, Ghatkopar East, Mankhurd Shivaji Nagar)  -- Cleanliness and sanitation
North Central: (Vile Parle, Chandivali, Kurla (SC), Bandra East,  Bandra West, Kalina) -- Water logging during rainy season;
South Central: (Anushakti Nagar, Chembur, Dharavi (SC), Sion Koliwada, Wadala, Mahim) -- Pollution
South Mumbai: (Worli, Shivadi, Byculla, Malabar Hill, Mumbadevi, Colaba) -- Water supply

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