Sunday, April 26, 2009

Namma Metro MD not hoodwinking public'

Namma Metro MD not hoodwinking public'

The government will encounter protests at every level if it doesn't encourage transparency. Development plans need to be shared with the people so that they know what to expect. This would also benefit authorities handling mega projects, says Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of Janaagraha

Vaishalli Chandra

No perfect solution
No problem has a prefect solution. Authorities need to have a master plan or vision. They need to ensure that all civic bodies work towards achieving that plan. The plan should be out in the open for public perusal. This transparency will help people understand the decisions and moves the government makes.
100 problems oft-repeated
The city has 100 problems that are repeated 100 times over. The problems are of two types –infrastructure-related, concerning water, roads, electricity, and service-related. We need agencies that ensure, for instance, that service like garbage is collection is systematic or that trees are maintained. These problems repeat because there is no strategic vision plan. With no clear plan, all the agencies involved are doing their own thing. Another problem is that bureaucrats have neither the time nor the mindset to look at the larger picture.
Playing catch-up
The problem today is that the civic agencies are trying to provide ad hoc responses to the situations at hand. They need to have strategic planning or a grand plan in place, so that they are prepared in advance to handle the situation. Currently, in this process of playing catch up they are not able to step back and see the situation from a distance.
With all the protest about Lalbagh, I would like to mention that I have interacted with Sivasailam, the managing director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited and have noticed two things about him. One, he actually gets into the details of things and two, if he does not know something, he is willing to admit it. This is not a man trying to hoodwink the citizens. The solution is easier to find when authorities take the people on their side. It is possible only if the city is told what the long term plan is. Instead of taking the verdict approach, people should be told of the options available. For instance, if people are told that the long term solution to easing traffic congestion is to bring in a mass transport system and the short term solution is to widen roads. Either way, some trees will be felled. We need to choose the least evil option.
A closed-door approach
Once there is a grand strategic vision or plan and each of the civic bodies are clear that they need to work towards that plan, things will be easy. Right now, there are too many civic bodies doing too many things and operating in silos. They are not even aware of what the other agencies are doing. In fact, there is this closed-door approach to things where they feel they can come out and announce the verdict. Somehow, the government doesn't believe in transparency.
This method of functioning will always invite public protests as people are unaware and unsure of what is happening. So, when they read that hundreds of trees are being felled, they feel that the government is working against its better judgment.
In the absence of clarity, we start to see evil shadows where there is none. Therefore, at every step, the government will face protesters.


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