Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bhopal Notes :: 34 :: Failures of Bhopal Municipal Corporation

I do not know how much more evidence is required to prove that sooner the local municipal corporation is superceded the better it will be for all concerned, most of all for the citizens of Bhopal. Sheer apathy and neglect on the part of the municipal councilors and municipal officials have caused unprecedented floods causing deaths and huge loss of public and private property.

The papers now say that the officers concerned knew that there would be floods in case the city got heavy rains yet no action was taken. There have been warnings of heavy rains in our region for quite some time and even the indications that the old pattern has undergone a change. Now heavy rains do not mean spells of heavy showers mixed with light showers or drizzles.  Now it is extreme kind of weather which is driven by global warming. That is how the city got an unbroken spell of eight-hour long heavy to very heavy rains that too at night. It only exposed the utter failure of the municipal corporation – its unpreparedness and inability to deal with this kind of emergency.

No lessons from the past floods of 2006 or from the floods in Srinagar or Chennai were ever drawn to preempt such an overwhelming spell of rain. The papers now report that everyone now agrees that water accumulation occurred because of erecting structures over drains. The local politicians, including the councilors, participate in this game allowing unwise construction for a few pieces of gold, as it were. Then, of course, there is unbridled urban expansion with legal and illegal colonies after colonies coming up without any regard to the local topography, natural drainage and civic reach. Looks like, there is none in the state administration or the local body responsible for unchecked colonization of farm lands, forests and hills. That, of course, is another matter.

Coming back to the incapacity and in capability of the civic body the floods, of course, have been a human tragedy – all because of its inability to anticipate events and take timely action. It has failed in this instance but in what other matter has it come out with flying colours? None, in fact, whether it is water supply, road building, sanitation and hygiene, neutering of stray dogs, maintenance of the Upper and Lower lakes or running of the buses in the BRTS corridor – it has failed in every single item of work that it has taken up. Hence, can one trust it to build a smart city? Far from it!

Before that eventuality arises, however, the municipal corporation needs to be superceded and a strong administrator appointed with powers of the mayor and the municipal council for the wellbeing of the people. The quarrelsome elected body has indulged in internecine warfare neglecting civic works and has failed on all counts except perhaps in the only area of making illegal money that has fostered lack of municipal governance in the city. Action in this regard needs to be taken before the situation further deteriorates.

*Photo from internet
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