Sunday, July 19, 2009

Citizens, not just government move a city

Citizens, not just government move a city

There is a need for coordinated work on the development front. Good governance can be established only through unified planning, decentralisation and public involvement, advocates urban development advisor to the chief minister, A Ravindra

Senthalir S

Give mayor enough teeth
One of the major issues affecting Bangalore is the structure of governance. There is a need for coordinated work on the development front. The administration is badly affected when conflicts surface. It is vital to have an elected body to run the administration. The councillors and mayors should be vested with enough powers and the latter a longer tenure as well. Their powers have to be redefined, and the Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development (ABIDe) is working towards it.
To resolve conflicts and coordination issues among civic agencies, ABIDe has proposed a Metropolitan Planning Committee for the region. Good governance can be established only through unified planning, decentralisation and public involvement. Neighbourhood committees are vital to achieve this. These committees exist only on paper but initiative has to be taken to make them a reality. Here, peoples' role becomes vital as they should hold the authorities accountable. However, the debate should be an informed debate.
City specific legislation
There is no separate legislation to govern Bangalore. The Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act, which applies to districts like Gulbarga and Hubli, is also applicable to Bangalore. Hence, ABIDe has proposed bringing in a new legislation for Bangalore, for which a new act will have to be passed.
It's not that only the government needs to make things better. To help the administration run better, neighbourhood committees must be set up to interact with officials for feedback and grievance redressal. Professionals' bodies like that of town planners and architects should also contribute to redevelopment of the city.

Incentivise mass transport
Traffic woes are increasing as the number of vehicles in the city has gone up to 35 lakh, while the infrastructure is still inadequate. The only solution is to create incentives for using public transport and discourage use of private vehicles. Better walkways and sidewalks would certainly aid that. BMTC had adopted new strategies to attract people with Volvos and Big10 buses for arterial roads. The other way to regulate traffic is demand side management like in Singapore, where congestion charge is levied on cars when there is heavy traffic. There should be fiscal policies to curtail use of private transport. And, people should voluntarily reduce using private vehicles. Bangalore Metro Rail would be an incentive, though it is not a panacea for all our traffic woes. Measures like car pooling should be considered.
Pedestrianise roads
'Pedestrianisation' of roads is an important aspect of infrastructure development. This is especially needed in Bangalore. While planning, pedestrian subways and skywalks should be integrated. People should make sure that they not only use subways but maintain them. The onus of maintenance of infrastructure doesn't lie only with the civic agencies but also people.

In-situ development
All infrastructure projects should be carried out with community involvement. A proper plan should be evolved for in-situ development. Displacement of slums is not the answer. For big infrastructure projects, strategies should be adopted to reassure slum-dwellers that they will not be displaced. Slums are often centres of economic activities. What needs to be done is to bring about the economic redevelopment of areas that need intervention, which requires a proper plan. As told to Senthalir S


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