It’s a fairly common scene no matter what part of urban India you are in: it rains for a few hours and the city comes to a grinding halt. Waterlogged and potholed roads hold up traffic, backing up cars for miles.
It’s a fairly common scene no matter what part of urban India you are in: it rains for a few hours and the city comes to a grinding halt. Waterlogged and potholed roads hold up traffic, backing up cars for miles.Narrow streets in neighbourhoods get clogged, and if the water doesn’t get into your living room, there’s good chance that the road-corner garbage dump has been washed up to your doorstep. The point: urban governance in India is in a shambles and the debate over it has been focussed, justifiably but impractically for the common man, on structural changes. How about, instead, building public pressure on what the municipalities are supposed to do anyway—which is to keep the city drainage system unclogged, clean roads and neighbourhoods, ensure water in taps and run schools and hospitals for the poor people.
Arguably one of the best-run municipalities in the country, the Surat municipality (the oldest in the country), has created a city development plan that looks as far ahead as 2031. It is already upgrading its infrastructure keeping in mind the growth in population in the years ahead.
Why can’t other municipalities follow Surat’s example? After all, what’s required is a hardcharging municipal commissioner who can rally the support not just of his political masters in the state but also other stakeholders in his or her city. Unless the municipalities learn to work within their systemic constraints, there’s little hope for our cities.