Friday, June 26, 2009

Individual, not post, makes a difference

Individual, not post, makes a difference
BBMP Commissioner Says Bangalore Must Plan Long Term. Knee-Jerk Reactions Must Be Avoided
Seethalakshmi S & Aarthi R | TNN

BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena is confident he can change the city and also the mindset of the corporation staff. But he has no false dreams for Bangalore
Bangalore: Troubled by the long wait for good roads, problem-free drains or day-to-day garbage clearance? Very soon, you might have to just drop in at BBMP ward offices to get it done. Ward offices equipped with funds to solve civic woes and civilians given a chance to participate — the new BBMP chief has many plans on his agenda for Namma Bengaluru.
In his first interview after taking over as commissioner, a confident Bharat Lal Meena tells The Times of India that team work and adequate planning coupled with a passion to deliver is the key to governing a growing city like Bangalore. The keywords on his agenda for development are ‘change’ and ‘wait to watch it’. Excerpts:
You have taken over at a crucial time — monsoon. Garbage clearance, overflowing drains, roads that give way after a shower. The list is endless. What’s on top?
Cleaning drains and desilting them is immediate priority. We are working out a big project for this to combat the monsoon. Waste disposal and recycling needs attention.
As for garbage clearance, we will study best practices in international cities and implement them here. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. All we need to do is to bring in efficiency.
One of the major problems with development work in the city is that they are hardly time bound. Any attempts to change this?
Yes. We’re working on getting in a change. It needs a few amendments. But it’s too early to comment on the details.
BBMP is mammoth. There are allegations that officials are corrupt and development work remain on paper. How will you nip this?
I agree there must be overall transformation in the corporation. The mentality of people itself must change. I have done that in my previous assignments in KPTC and Housing Board. It’s not that everyone in BBMP is bad. Unlike the private sector, we cannot adopt the hire-and-fire policy. We must take people along, identify talent and work unitedly to beautify this beautiful city.
Successive governments have spoken about making Bangalore a Singapore. But beyond visits to that country, Bangalore has seen nothing. How will you go about transforming Bangalore into Singapore?
I have no such dreams. I agree that we have a lot to learn from them in terms of civic sense. But in my view, Bangalore must maintain its identity. There is no doubt that infrastructure in Bangalore must be improved. What perhaps stands out in those cities is long-term planning and not knee-jerk reactions.
People’s participation is perhaps a crucial factor in governing a city. How will you ensure that Bangaloreans are involved in the growth of their city?
I believe in de-centralized governance. As a first step in this direction, I’ll set up citizen centres in all wards. The BBMP will give Rs 1 lakh to a junior engineer of that ward (which needs upgrade). It’ll be a revolving fund, and this fund will be used for improving greenery in the area concerned or repairing roads. For this, the engineer will involve resident welfare associations (RWAs) so that the project is locally supervized and there is accountability.
Earlier, the BBMP had plans to issue notices to all vacant site owners across the city to keep them clean, else pay up for the cleaning expenditure incurred by the BBMP, along with property tax. When is it likely to take off?
Well, we do have some plans for vacant sites but there are some pending formalities. This process also demands some legal provisions.
The BBMP commissioner’s post is the hottest seat. From drains to rains to poor roads to potholes, the commissioner is blamed for just about everything.
I believe that every post is crucial. The job of a Bescom chief or a Housing Board c o m m i s s i o n e r is tough too. The public interface of this job makes expectations high. Post should not make a difference; the individual must.


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