Tag Archives: Delhi

Emergency response needed for Air pollution as experts & Politicians debate

Once again the Specter of air pollution looms large upon us. Delhi is polluted throughout the year with the situation exacerbating in winters.

This is not Delhi’s problem alone as large swathes of land in the indo gangetic plains suffer this scourge
Over the last 2 years URJA and the Delhi Clean Air Forum has held several meetings and conferences with the best organisations and researchers in this field. Our zonal level meetings have conferred with religious leaders of all faiths and politicians from all parties, MLAs, Municipal councillors as well as school teachers.
With the disappointing response of top political leaders including the Environment Minister (BJP) and the immature conversation of Chief Ministers of Delhi (AAP) and Punjab (Cong) on social media it is evident that the air quality situation is not solving anytime soon


The only respite may be courtesy the weather Gods
Clearly the air pollution crisis is not going away some for some years in Delhi and we should therefore prepare our self for the long haul and a long siege while politicians squabble and experts pontificate.
At several meetings RWA and ground level activists we are coming around to the view that the state administration should increase preparedness for a constant emergency like response rather than look to the weather or Punjab or coal powered plants outside Delhi for solutions


The administration should have a rapid response in terms of sprinkling of water, authorised by local MLA and councillors who should be empowered to take this decision based on air monitoring in their area
The RWA should be entrusted mandatorily to report to the DC MCD zone and SDMs any waste burning or construction which does not follow norms and RWA should be penalized if they fail to do so. The RWA can also be penalized for illegal construction, dumping of malba etc. This will go a long way towards empowering them and justifying their intervention to the perpetrator


The air around us is finite and today large scale open air HEPA filtering machines are available to clear air in parks, hospital compounds and public places. There is no reason why the ordinary citizen should not be offered public filtration of air when he cannot afford in house filters
The State should tender for large procurement of face masks for all that are available at cheaper rates and provided by the state on no profit.


URJA is not demanding free services but is demanding the provision of emergency services to the taxpayer
Too much of discussion and argument on awareness, solutions etc has kept people occupied without respite
We need daily succor from this poisoned air. If the state has to provide giant filters, masks and empower MLAs and councillors, jointly with RWA to authorise sprinkling so be it. People are not prepared to die on account of the argumentative expert or politicians. Enough is enough

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URJA Editorial-Some Governance Basics

Every time the matter of garbage and bad governance comes up in our meetings, there is often the common comment that the

  • ‘Citizens are to blame also’ or that
  • ‘We have no ‘civic sense’,
  • ‘We must not ask of the Government but must also do it ourselves’

On the face of it statements such as these sound reasonable and create a sense of temporary guilt and shame in the mind of the citizen and taxpayer. This type of discussion in public meetings usually ends the discussion with people simply feeling helpless as if they are no good.

Over the years this thinking has been reinforced by the State Administration and the officers as it suits them to shift the moral blame on residents for their own administrative incompetence and corruption.

Recently in a posh area of south Delhi, no less than the Commissioner of SDMC, an I.A. S officer, made a ‘surprise visit’. A day before this ‘Surprise’ visit many encroachments were temporarily removed. During the course of his visit the Commissioner noted, that residents had thrown kabaad in their back lanes and covered their drains leaving them difficult to clean. The Commissioner pointed out that residents were responsible for the problem and should introspect, & the suitably embarrassed the RWA wrote a note chastising the members that they must themselves ‘introspect’ on this

The situation remains the same. The encroachments are back, the back lanes remain dirty

On similar complaints, the Municipal councillor landed up with a whole team, touting ‘swachh bharatabhiyan as motivator, joined by party colleagues and cleaning staff. The whole lot including the Councillor started sweeping.  Many Residents were all excited and started clapping. This was a major photo opportunity; the photo etc. was shared in whatsapp groups. At the end of all this tomfoolery, things remain the same

This is an example of how misled we are and how much it suits the officers and the politicians to perpetuate this thinking. It also shows that a combination of ignorance and laziness can keep even educated residents trapped in the same place.

This is important to understand, that ordinarily most people are law abiding but as a corrupt and lazy administration allows a few people to get away, more and more people take to breaking the law.

Please do not believe that residents in other countries are better human beings, but please believe that other countries punish law breakers and there Civic responsibility becomes reward able

Let us have a look by way of a table of what is happening and how we are misled into believing that are bad citizens, when in reality our officers a lazy and inefficient.

The distinction marked below can be applied to almost all areas of public administration

 

Wrong Way- Delhi will remain a Filthy city Right Way- Delhi will be a world Class city
SDMC Commissioner lecturing that Drains should not be covered The Commissioner ordering  immediate demolition/or penalties as per law and ordered an inquiry upon his officers for letting this happen
This not lack of Civic Sense This is illegal
SDMC Commissioner lecturing  that Kabaad should not be thrown in the back lanes

This not about lack of Civic Sense

 

The Commissioner ordering fines and penalizing the builders as well as residents for violating the law and relevant provisions of the DMC  act

This is about punishment for illegal activity

The Municipal councillor, no matter how excitable and sycophantic he is, is not meant to begin municipal work himself

 

The job of the councillor is to take civic problems to the corporation and get the Departments to act. He is not a Govt officer (even if he likes to think so) and does not have to perform Municipal roles designated for Municipal officers or staff
Councillor Sweeping back lanes are an aberration & example of very bad Governance should not be applauded by the public and there is nothing good about this activity to be shared on whatsapp. This public behaviour is harming the public

 

Public should have criticized him for failing to get the Government to work and not take the Voter for a ride by doing childish stunts. The public should have demanded that he ensure MCD action. This behaviour helps the public
This pattern of behaviour will result in remaining in garbage and filth, broken roads and encroachment. This is how our ‘Administration’ and misguided residents behaves and we remain a backward city

 

This is how Administration in USA, UK, France Tokyo, and Hong Kong would have behaved and that is why they are advanced Cities. This is how their officers behave and their residents demand for being taxpayers.
Officers will be paid for sitting in office and making money out of corruption &Indian taxpayer will be fooled continuously & will be blamed for not having civic sense. This wrong attitude shown above will ensure that Delhi will be a filthy city Delhi will be a clean city, The Tax payer would be rewarded and provided with services, the officers will have to work for their salary, & corruption will come down. Delhi will be a world class city

 

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URJA Editorial- June 2017

Heedless Politicking is disenfranchising the citizen

In late 2012, some citizens in the Alaknanda, GK2, CR Park area of Delhi began to ask questions about DDA’s sanction of a Huge Mall in the middle of SFS flats. Un serviced by any major road and in the immediate vicinity of schools this project on community Centre land was clearly an ill-conceived project which would be detrimental to the quality of life and environment of the community

No sooner had the questions begun the citizens who had raised concerns began to be branded as belonging to this political party or the other. This attack came from sundry local level political activists and other vested interests associated with the politicians of the area. Since the group of citizens were professionals and had done their homework they were able to counter petty political attacks with facts and since they were a group of committed individuals they did not back down
However, standing up to political noise is not easy and not everybody has the mettle for it.

We often notice that in local area and municipal wards or assembly constituency any genuine concern or questions raised by a citizen is quickly branded as proxy questioning from one political party or the other. Apart from the general complaint on garbage and roads any question regarding policy, projects or quality of work produced by the authorities is quickly branded as political questioning.

The RWA, actively engaged in keeping an eye as well as assisting last mile too are concerned with this. Raising genuine concerns of the residents persistently often invites attacks from local political elements as well as some politicized residents.

This phenomenon is not new and worries the ordinary citizen about being falsely identified with a political party, thereby scaring him from raising genuine questions. This is problematic as it helps the corrupt and the inefficient within the system to get away with substandard work. Questioning a policy of the Municipal corporation, State Government or the Centre invites attack and accusations from the political party which heads the respective administration and results in abject failure of the policy when it reaches implementation stage. It breeds corruption as only a few people benefit from the contractor-official-politician nexus in projects that follow.

We all see the mindless, petty, and noisy announcements & protests daily by political parties. Opposition for the sake of opposing & creating a daily flutter for themselves and TRPs for channels is of little use for the citizen who finds herself in the same situation watching the daily antics of political activists and their cohorts.

Political parties do not always work in the interest of the people. They work in the Party’s interest by appropriating Government power through election by the people. Once in charge they resist any sort of questioning that may open them to questioning.

The Citizen as well as RWA executives, must not be browbeaten by the slants and petty pricking done by local political activists and their associates within the colonies.
This is not to say that the government must listen to every protest and objection. That would bring the administration to a stop.

The Citizen and the RWA should not be concerned much about motivated political activists accusing them. The citizen & RWA have a right to ask questions of the government and ask questions we will. An inquiry about the intention, policy, and quality of execution of public work is not an accusation. It is a question and Govts must answer the questions.

The RWA and citizens’ groups must repeatedly ask of their government. it is not only their right, it is also their duty

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URJA Editorial-April 2017

This edition of the newsletter was delayed as we waited for the results of Municipal elections in Delhi

The BJP, through its strategy of shedding the baggage of bad governance by shedding its own sitting councillors, and inducting a fresh batch of candidates to contest, has paid off electorally. The AAP, which comes a distant second has clearly been subjected to public displeasure. The congress which tried very hard failed to get much public support as the public see it as a party of dated ideas and uninspiring leadership.

The question we ask in URJA is; Does this change anything at all?

The AAP is still in Power as the State Government in Delhi and the BJP is back in the Municipal Corporation which is no different from the situation prior to these elections

It has been called a referendum on the Chief Minister’s performance in Delhi. Does it mean, by the same yardstick that it is a referendum on the MCDs performance as well? Surely the latter cannot be true.

But was this a vote on Delhi’s festering issues at all? Perhaps not. It was a vote on choosing between the leadership style of the Prime Minister & That of Delhi’s Chief Minister. Since there is a stark difference in both leadership styles, it was only natural that the public would be sharply divided in making their choices.

What should be said at this point is that the people of Delhi are failing to see that merely replacing one elected by another will not change things.  Good governance in Delhi has little to do with democratic representation anymore. Delhi suffers from excessive politics. It is full of elected representatives, political players, party activists and several other political creatures who harm Governance more than they can help. Delhi requires a smart and accountable administration. Delhi has a Master Plan, the MPD 2021, it is a statutory document, which is meant to be used as a road map for the city’s development. Delhi’s RWAs should push for its implementation and question the different departments if they have failed in implementing the provisions of MPD20121. The National vector Borne disease control Programme(NVBDCP) has a policy for fighting Dengue & Chikungunya. Fogging is not really recommended for fighting this Scourge. The RWa Instead of running to their Councillors for the annual drama of fogging to mislead the people, should instead put pressure on the Lt. Governor and the Municipal health officers responsible for this.

Delhi’s problems are vast and the administrative mechanisms inadequate. The state administration is conservative and mired in red tape. However, Delhi has an advantage. Being the country’s capital it also has some of the topmost experts in the field of technology, waste management, urban planning, environment, policing & security, and other disciplines that Delhi so desperately needs inputs from. Delhi also as an interested citizenry which is politically aware and socially active

We urge the new Municipal leadership as well as the Municipal and state Bureaucracy to be open to building collaborative mechanisms with Resident Welfare Associations(RWA), expert groups and other citizens’ collectives to work together to Renew Delhi.

A young lot of corporators has come into the municipal corporation and we hope that the state leadership of the BJP will be able to direct their energies positively and not let them get jaded and cynical as has often been the case in the past.

 

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URJA Editorial March 2017

The Municipal elections are due soon. Once again, after 5 years the task of electing the 272 municipal councillors will take place. The councillors represent the public of Delhi to the Municipal corporation in local issues such as parks, garbage and solid municipal waste management, internal roads, StreetSide hawking, Primary health care & education, and parking as well as sanction of building plans

The Municipal Corporators form the bed rock of representative democracy in the city and it can be easily said that the status of a municipal ward is significantly impacted by the Municipal councillor. Over the years much has been said about corruption etc., yet at the local level corruption does not seem to matter much. Corruption is very much a daily part of life in India and citizens themselves are participants in it in varying degree thereby making it a less important issue as compared to getting the Municipal Officers to work.

The public is concerned with efficiency and delivery of services and how they can go about their lives and pay their taxes, educate their children, and earn a living without broken roads and footpaths, overflowing garbage, inadequate lighting, dirty parks, the annual scourge of dengue and chikungunya and other such local issues which no political party has been able to resolve and get the officers in the various departments to deliver.

There is no data available with the public that can verify to it if any promises made by all political parties were fulfilled even minimally. However, RWAs have long memories and remember the promises made by parties in their last manifesto.

URJA has written to the election commission more than once that;

‘To begin with, we urge you to consider adding a column where a candidate who contests an election more than once, files an affidavit with the commission declaring the extent to which the promises made by him through his party manifesto in the past were fulfilled and provide ‘sufficient’ and ‘verifiable’ data to the commission to buttress his claim.’

So far, the election commission has not acted on our request but we shall continue to push for this.

We also have data* through RTI which shows us clearly that the questions raised by Municipal councillors in the house were very often not about the local grievances recorded by the Municipal corporations

The RWAs must make it a point to be more aware of facts and data and should duly bring it up with the councillors as well as candidates

The practice of carrying forward LAD funds from one year to the next and adding cumulatively has been used to deprive citizens of tax payer’s money allocated for regular use. We hope the voter will question this practice

The sudden spate of internal road work, multi Gym and park development that is taking place close to elections begs the question. What were the officers in the Govt. departments doing for the whole year? Why were citizens and voters deprived of these facilities throughout the year? How is the coming monsoon going to different for mosquito breeding? How can we ensure Government officers do their job?

At this point, most RWA as well as citizens are left wondering; what are permanently commissioned officers in pensionable jobs doing in their offices?

 

* Source- Praja.org

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URJA Editorial February 2017

Focus on Implementing Policies rather than creating new ones

The Master Plan, MPD 2021 for Delhi projects a population of 23 Million (2.3 Crores) inhabitants by 2021. The World Health organisation(WHO) estimates Delhi having already reached a population of 25 Million. This is more than a 100% increase or more than double the population of Delhi in 1990.

As per 2011 Census of Government. Of India, Delhi Population stood at 17 Million (1.7 Crores) in 2011

The Area of Delhi is static at 1483Sq. Km.

The Population density, one of the highest in the world is at about 12,000 /Sq. Km

With East Delhi reaching 30,000/Sq. Km

These are humungous figures whichever source one chooses to believe and are straining the public services on roads, public land, health services, air and water quality, waste disposal, and education to their current limits. We have been unable to shore up municipal revenue, unable to deal with mismanagement of parking, footpaths, road hawking, encroachment on public land and other such challenges of the urban crisis in Delhi.

The Master plan for Delhi and many other policies made by the authorities such as Transit Oriented Development, Parking Management & Pricing policies created by UTTIPEC exist and it is not for us to quibble with them unnecessarily as these are policies made after much deliberation between experts, political executive and officers and are aligned with international best practices as well.

 However, it is evident that the optimum implementation and delivery of these policies has failed. The government does not have the wherewithal, even if it has the intention, to deliver

There is a lack of seriousness and reticence in implementing policies which are in place. The absence of the Government of Delhi from implementation and enforcement is creating serious problems for the city. Failure of implementation is being read as failure of policy itself

  1. The general belief of an inefficient bureaucracy is getting increasingly solidified
  2. The writ of the ‘State’ is being eroded leading to public indiscipline
  3. A natural disaster in Delhi can have terrifying implications

The problem is serious and ignoring such issues have implications of a ‘tipping point’ phenomenon where unbeknownst to us a series of consequences suddenly manifest at the same time leading to an unmanageable situation. We urge the GNCTD as well as the Central Government. to be mindful of this.

URJA has for long advocated a process driven Structured Consultation Mechanism which includes the Local Elected Representative, The Civic Authorities & The RWA. While it is true that local politicians do separately and privately consult their party workers, and a few RWA, there is no process for a structured consultation mechanism. We also advocate training for citizens as well as school going children in disaster response as well as training & protocol to help accident victims

The word ‘consultation’ need not scare the elected representatives and the government. We are clear that the ‘decision’ must be taken by those statutorily empowered or obliged to. Administrative decisions must be taken, only by the Government.  However, a structured process of communication and conversation is a very important tool in keeping a transparent & official record of community inputs. A well-structured and recordable consultation and participation process allows for a sense of community responsibility and ownership of civic works, and reduces resistance that often stems from an inbuilt suspicion of the officialdom & political class. The recent agitation by the traders of Connaught Place on the Vehicle Free Plan of NDMC could easily have been avoided had the Council followed a proper & transparent consultation.

This is not some newfangled idea. Structured and recordable consultative processes are practiced in Europe and the United States as well as African countries. These models are available and have worked for long. The 74th Constitutional amendment also speaks of them in its letter and spirit. For some reason our Governments have kept Delhi’s citizen away from the benefits and ease of governance that naturally follows from such mechanisms.

URJA hopes that the time and the atmosphere is right for our Lt. Governor and our Chief Minister to take note and act on this.

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URJA Editorial January 2017

We wish you a very happy & prosperous new year.
Many older citizen’s reminiscence with nostalgia the glorious days of the full UT of Delhi. Unfortunately, such memories serve no useful purpose. Delhi is a mixed bag that can either become a fine example of how National Capital territory ought to be Governed or it can slide into become becoming an example of how a city can be destroyed.
We are inclined however, to see the glass as half full. At the level of local neighbourhoods, Resident Welfare Associations(RWA), Market Trader Associations(MTA), Citizens’ collectives and several other community groups start the day with much enthusiasm.

There is something about voluntary groups that has a unique energy.
We observe that political change at the helm of Urban administration in big cities has not had much impact in changing the quality of Governance and most citizens have reluctantly come to accept the fact that the enforcement of the rule of law, effective implementation of policies and rules are somewhat alien to our model of Governance and officials will leave people to their own devices till a crisis erupts. The role of the RWA and community groups therefore becomes paramount in such a situation.
Resident welfare Associations remain the most effective and viable bridge between residents and the political representative/ the bureaucracy. For the last decade URJA and our RWA network has demanded laws to regulate as well as empower the RWA to ensure better delivery of services and redressing grievances.
URJA has connected experts and welfare associations and bought them together to address the disconnect between expert formulations and the reality at the electoral booth level. This has been a very useful experience. Our programmes on connecting premier research organisations and think tanks with RWA and local Politicians across Delhi has helped us understand the fault lines and imagine solutions. Urban Planning, Traffic Management, Air Pollution, water harvesting and recycling, Solar Power and Data analysis are disciplines where we have assisted as well as connected institutions with the RWA and Citizens Collectives.
URJA has been asking for a process of a structured, recordable, and regular consultation mechanism to streamline last mile governance. The Ward Committee comprising of the RWA, MTA, Political representatives and officers is an effective first step that should be taken in this direction. Ward committee in each Municipal ward is a sure shot way of immediate transparency and accountability in local administration. The Political class is wary of such initiatives but we are convinced that this must be done and political parties in Delhi must come around and accept it
The National Capital Territory of Delhi has a new Lt Governor. He comes with a lot of administrative experience and knowledge of Delhi. It is hoped that the New Lt. governor as well as the incumbent Chief Minister will work together to tackle urgent and impending issues. URJA will extend its cooperation wherever needed through our members spread across the 272 Municipal wards in Delhi.
We urge the residents of Delhi to involve themselves more proactively in the health of their neighbourhood. If you have a complaint with civic services immediately complain in writing to the concerned department. This is very important. Do involve yourself with your RWA and other social groups to help tackle problems of parking inside colonies, step out and chat with your neighbour, prevent burning of waste and push for segregating and composting, Help and support the young with sports and free play in neighbourhood parks, support community solar power projects and refrain from patronizing illegal commercial enterprises.
For those who want to extend themselves for their neighbourhood there is never a dull moment.
May 2017 bring you Joy.

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Smart Politics Vs Smart Administration for Delhi

The Chief Minister of Delhi has come out with the State of Delhi Bill, 2016. This 18-page document places the Police, the Municipalities and the DDA under the Government of the State of Delhi. The Chief Minister promises a sea change in Delhi through its application. Similar demands have been made by other Chief Ministers of Delhi in the past

There are also demands that Delhi is best served by reverting to its Union territory status and placed under the charge of the Lt. Governor, who will represent the overwhelming power of the Government of India. There will be no significant elected representatives and the LG will be free to act through his officers.

On the other hand, there is a belief that Delhi (Barring the NDMC area & The Cantonment) being placed fully under a state Government of elected representatives in charge of PWD, Police, MCD, water & other services will be more effective. This would be like Governments in, U.P, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Tamil Nadu, Punjab etc.

Besides this there are believers that status quo be maintained.

In the meantime, no one in Delhi is clear which officer or department is responsible for preventing encroachments on roads, illegal construction, broken footpaths, vending zones, & solid waste management in colonies.  People are unclear as to who to complain to if sewers mix with storm water drains, the Police does not lodge FIRs, Ambulances do not reach in time, Stray dogs bite children, or what to do if trees are creeping into residences, monkeys take their clothes and people defecate on their boundary wall.

Our entire discourse and debate is centered on politics.  People enjoy these mudslinging debates even as they themselves suffer and the city of Delhi reaches a tipping point from where no return would be possible.

 In this piece I argue that we have sufficient democratic representation, participation & accountability in politics but have an underdeveloped administrative system which is obsolete, unaccountable and inefficient. It will not be able to deliver the promises made by any Government

Democratic State and Administration

India and its states are governed and administrated by a permanent bureaucracy, police, and tax, military and judicial administration that a political party temporarily presides upon. It has to be understood that a Democracy, a Dictatorship, a Theocracy or a Communist country can all be different ways in which people are collectively organised as a ‘State’ but it’s ‘administration’ is an altogether different matter

 Delhi has a democratically elected State government which presides upon some administrative functions; it has a democratically elected Municipality; And a democratically elected Political party at the Centre which presides upon the Police and parts of the state’s administration through the Lt. Governor

Delhi’s problem however, stem from the absence of a responsive, honest and efficient administration, not less democracy in its political structure.

Delhi’s citizen needs to know the Government department responsible for each service and wants to know which officer is to be held responsible for dereliction of duty and the compensation to the citizen for deficiency in services. The city does not care if the Police or MCD is under the charge of the LG or the CM as long as they do their job in an efficient, responsible and honest manner.

Why have Governments failed to deliver on promises; Explaining administration & Multiplicity of Authorities

India and Delhi is administered through its Bureaucracy, Police and Judicial administration which was originally established by the British colonial Rulers to serve the ends of an imperial colonising power. This colonial construct of the bureaucracy continues to this day. Citizens approach officers with servility, sycophancy and salaam. This is openly visible in any office.

There will be several different departments that are required to undertake tasks and deliver on the Political mandate of the ruling party  or address the needs of Citizens. The State therefore will operate through multiple authorities.

The problem however is not the ‘multiplicity of authority’ but the ‘opacity’, ‘un-accountability’ and ‘obsolescence’ with which each authority functions.

And that The members of civil service serve at the pleasure of the President of India and Article 311 of the constitution protects them in such a manner that their removal from services is very difficult. The Government of India Act 1935 profoundly affected the constitution in terms of the civil Services which were virtually maintained as a continuation of the British colonial administration. The underpinnings of the bureaucracy remain remains anonymity, permanency and constitutional protection.

Each department can escape its responsibility since

  1. The duties assigned to each officer and each department is not known to the public and cannot be known at all even if it wanted. Anonymity is built into the scheme of things as it were.
  2. The responsibilities are divided over many officers and departments so no one in particular is responsible. This allows the officials to put the citizen in a ‘back and forth’ trap where he will go from one department to the other and back to the same or into a ‘circular trap’ where he will be sent off to one department after the other. Since there is no punishment for delay or misleading the citizen, this can go on till he is forced to compromise and submit to this system. A complaint against the officer is of little use as the system is designed to protect each other. The chance of a grievance being rectified is very low. Moving the court does not help much as the judicial administration is archaic and slow.

What has to be understood very clearly without any confusion is that it is the Department in the Government that is meant to address your problems and it is the officers serving there on salaries and perks that are expected to perform these duties to deliver the service to you.

Instead Indians have been falsely made to believe that it is your elected representative who is responsible. This is delusional, and causes voters to repeatedly direct their anger at the elected representative while the real culprit goes stock free and continues to get his paycheck, perks and will get a pension too. Every election we change our representative to rule over the same inefficient mechanism.

Your elected representatives face the same problem so why have elected leaders and the parliament not changed the bureaucracy?

The Nature of bureaucracy demands a degree of permanency of jobs or tenured positions for Government officials. This is a worldwide phenomenon and with good reason and intent. However other countries have managed to modernise and reform the bureaucracy  such that its efficiency has improved as compared to India which retains its colonial and feudal ruling ethos. As a result any political party, once it comes to power, uses the same bureaucratic instruments to ride roughshod over and manipulate the people as the preceding one did.

The courts too belong to the same archaic system and have not helped in clearing the air.

Take for instance this Judgment of the Hon’ble High court of Delhi in -MANUSHI SANGATHAN, DELHI Petitioner, versus GOVT OF DELHI & ORS. Respondents CM APPL.9308/2015 in W.P. (C) 4572/2007

The matter pertains to the municipal corporation being asked to remove encroachments and their plea that the Municipality was not responsible for clearing encroachments

……….‘The application seeks modification of the order of 30th April, 2015 by which certain encroachments in the main Chandni Chowk carriage way were directed to be removed in a time bound manner. North Delhi Municipal Corporation relies upon orders of the Principal Secretary (Urban Development) of the GNCTD dated 10.01.2012 and 24.02.2012 to say that the title in the roads now vests with the GNCTD. In terms of Section 298 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, the title in all public streets and roads vests with the concerned Municipal Corporation. In the circumstances, the relief claimed cannot be granted. However, all authorities including the GNCTD are directed to cooperate in the execution of order dated 30th April, 2015. A compliance report shall be filed within two months…………”

 The Hon’ble Court, after clarifying, that it is indeed the municipality that is the owner of all roads and streets proceeds to direct all departments to cooperate. This leaves things unclear. It is not clarified if a particular department is meant to carry out clear orders or not meant to carry them out. How will the person responsible be identified in the midst of this collective responsibility of half a dozen departments assigned the same job? How will cooperation be measured? Who will be penalized on failure? No wonder that illegal encroachments remain unchecked in Delhi. The honorable courts have lectured much & passed many judgments but have not penalized any Government department or officer for illegal occupation of public spaces by unscrupulous elements.

Politics has reached its peak levels and can deliver nothing more to take us to the next level of efficient Governance

 The current CM of Delhi will not be in a better position than the CM of U.P, Bihar or West Bengal. Whether or not Delhi has full statehood does not make any difference

We are facing an administrative crisis; what should be done?

We have been busy focusing on democratic processes without paying adequate attention to administrative mechanisms. We have enjoyed changing politicians, got youth to vote and taken voting percentages to some of the highest in the world. We are replacing one driver after another for a damaged car in the hope of reaching our destination. Representative democracy has limits to the purpose it can serve in governance. Enhancing representation and participation alone will serve no purpose if the administrative arms are rickety & in a perennial state of uncertainty about their role. We remain burdened with a predominantly unreformed Bureaucracy of Administrators, Police, UDCs, LDCs, Constables and peons. The Administrative mechanism is archaic. That is the problem and not statehood or UT.

It is in turning our attention away from puerile politics and focusing it on the bureaucracy will we strengthen the administration.

Civil society groups & particularly the Resident Welfare Associations(RWA) must take note of this. As critical elements of Last Mile Governance the RWA should escalate the demand for the implementation of bureaucratic and police reforms. Civil society groups concerned with public policy and governance, and the RWA should:

  1. Demand the implementation of the accepted recommendations of the Administrative reforms commission- Reference  ARC 12th report on Citizen Centric Governance*
  2. Demand the implementation of the Supreme courts directives on Police reforms*
  3. Demand that the Results Framework document of the PMD, Cabinet Secretariat (RFD) be modified and extended to all government departments in Delhi and amend it to ensure that it is not manipulated by officers such to shrug off responsibility for their actions. In its current form the RFD is not worthwhile.
  4. Demand that the Lt. Governor and the Chief Minister of Delhi Publicly clarify the role of each government department in Delhi and identify to the public the officer punishable for dereliction of duty.

Refrences & further reading

*THE SEVEN DIRECTIVES FOR POLICE REFORMS-IN A NUTSHELL

Directive One: Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to: (i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police (ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and (iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police

 Directive Two: Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years

Directive Three: Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers in-charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years

Directive Four: Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police

Directive Five: Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police

Directive Six: Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct

Directive Seven: Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.

(Extract CHRI- http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org)

 http://www.businesstoday.in/magazine/cover-story/prajapati-trivedi-on-need-of-economic-business-reforms/story/213481.html

STATE OF POLICING AND LAW & ORDER IN Delhi- Praja.org

http://www.performance.gov.in/?q=rfd-menu

http://bprd.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/1424233217-delhi-police.pdf

http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/DoIT_AR/administrative+reforms/home/circulars+and+orders/miscellaneous+circulars/reports+issued+by+second+administrative+reforms+commissioner

http://arc.gov.in/arc_12th_report/arc_12th_Report.pdf- Citizen Centric Administration

http://arc.gov.in/15threport.pdf

U.S Bureaucracy- http://www.nber.org/chapters/c8632.pdf

 

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Beyond Odd and Even

The odd even rule has politicized the atmosphere and this is good. It will also be the cause of much idiocy ensuing in the coming days that will be utilised by the political class and the bureaucracy. A squabble is not an argument, much as we may confuse between the two. The media will as usual resort to the former and make it sound like the latter

It is currently in vogue to state that odd even rule results in traffic reduction and not reduction in air pollution. It is not possible to immediately decipher a liner mathematical relationship between traffic reduction, emission reduction and air pollution. But it would be strange to assume that a significantly lesser combustion of fossil fuels will not result in lesser air pollution. But it’s best not to get too involved in this debate till clearer data can be sieved out from motivated data.

In any case, odd/ even is a short term measure and will stop after a week because it causes inconvenience to the public, particularly those who do not come from multiple car owning families or own a single car. While excessive cars are to blame for some of the air pollution problem one must be careful not to make the car owner the only culprit as car ownership is completely legal. Moral lectures will not stop car usage.

A long standing problem in India is the habit of the bureaucracy to not act upon existing laws, and slowly nudge the political class and the citizen into making new laws or going to court respectively.

I draw your attention to some clear and brazen violations of the rule of law which are commonplace and have contributed enormously to the current situation. The existing laws should be enforced to significantly help reduce air pollution. If they are not enforced the officer in charge should be severely punished.

Parking- Car parking is possibly the most subsidized of all commodities as it comes minus the cost of stocking. It is more expensive to stock potatoes as compared to cars. Three times the space for parking a car is provided to a car owner as compared to a hawker, totally free of cost. This includes free lighting and municipal cleaning of the area.

Despite the high powered committee of the MoUD suggesting differential parking to make car usage expensive nothing has been done. Car parking on tarmac is illegal on several roads, yet no fine is levied. Illegal parking and hawking generate thousands of crores of illicit revenues collected by mafia with the connivance of officers in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Free parking is a clear and present danger to any policy of enhanced public transport. Free car parking adds to traffic jams, choked drains and road accidents.

Building material & Construction & Demolition(C&D) Waste (malba) – The city of Delhi generates more than 3000 TPD of C&D waste per day. The Supreme Court and the NGT have specifically asked for heavy fines (Rs 50,000/-) on the open stocking, trade and transportation of building material and C&D waste, but still this is visible all over the city, stocked on roadside, on footpaths, next to municipal garbage dumps and blocking traffic but hardly anyone has been fined. At URJA we see regular complaints made by citizens to the Municipal commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and area SDMs but nothing is done. The officers collect their part and a hapless citizenry starts looking for new elements to blame.

Burning of local waste- The Govt refuses to enforce minimum wages for security guards and make it mandatory for security agencies to provide protective gear, gloves, overcoats, jackets etc. This is one of the reasons why a poor and overworked security guard lights up twigs and leaves. The Delhi Police has clear rules on private security agencies. They completely ignore the rules and bypass the law. Some misguided but well meaning element have as usual made emotional appeals to provide blankets to security guards. This is foolish. A crisp and ready security guard is unlikely while wielding a blanket. As usual the real responsibility is evaded by officers in the labor department and the Delhi Police while guarding agencies exploit poverty at will.

No effort has been made by the Municipal corporations to compost fallen leaves & kitchen waste. This can be easily done within corners in all municipal parks. While removal and cleaning is shown it does not really take place. The staff burns it. Nobody responsible is punished.

Footpaths- Studies have shown that a significant portion of vehicle usage over short distance is avoidable if safe footpaths exist. The law states that car parking on footpaths is illegal (to Rule 15 of the Rules of the Road Regulations 1989). Complaints to the Police are of no use. They cannot tow away vehicles due to shortage of space but they can fine the owners. Hundred of complaints have been made to the traffic police but nothing gets done. A massive amount of air pollution is generated within a local area if people take to cars instead of walking to the market half a mile away. There are clear instructions in the recent Supreme Court judgment to repair and make good all footpaths but the PWD is doing nothing about that. The Officers in The Govt just do not do it.

The Lobby – Lobbies exist we all know that. It is convenient to complain about corporate lobbies and giant multinationals while saying nothing about crores wasted on so called cleaning of rivers, lack of provision of clean drinking water by successive governments and a collapsing sewage system. The brazen connivance of the officers of all governments is ignored by the public and we find it easy to see corporate conspiracies as we rave & rant for new regulations while the ones that can still help are being flouted.

To ensure that the laws are followed we will have to divert our attention from the political theater and instead demand it from the right people.

The corporates are not obliged to serve our interests. It’s also not about the BJP & AAP politicos; they are obliged to play politics for their very survival.

The most protected species, the officialdom is statutorily bound and obliged to uphold the rule of law. Turn your attention towards him. That is where each and every demand should go. In hard copy with original signatures!

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