If wishes were horses…

If you wondered why there was no special write up from Citizen Matters for the new year, here’s our excuse. Well, we did have a spectacular plan, however all the folks who needed to be on the same page as us, didn’t really come onboard.

So this was our plan – to talk to key people involved in city administration and get them to look back on the past year and share with us their wish list for 2015. This turned out to be much more challenging than we thought. We had identified around ten eminent personalities and began a round of calls starting December 20th.

More than two weeks later, only two of them have shared their plans for the city. Some were on holiday and therefore refrained from commenting, and we respect that. Others kindly excused themselves. Some others did not pick up calls or respond to messages.

A senior IAS officer from BBMP simply stated that he had nothing to say about the achievements of 2014 or his wishlist for 2015, so that was that. Yet another IPS officer with the City Police refused to speak over the phone. Maybe we needed to meet him face to face…

On calling our honourable Mayor, we were first asked to speak in Kannada. We did and she then said it would not be possible for her to respond to such questions as and when we asked them. To placate us, she stated she would require three to four days to list them down, following which we could call her. So call her we did, after three days. Multiple calls and messages laters, we still had naught.

We realised a few things at the end of the many conversations, or lack thereof.

  1. When there are no set targets for officials to meet, it is bound to be difficult for them to ascertain what went well or did not, and therefore put a wish list for the future.
  2. While it would seem logical that one must know the local language of a city, if you don’t, there are several times in the line of work that you will be chided for the same.  Especially by officials who seem to think that a conversation that is not in Kannada, is not a conversation worth having.
  3. Officials get too busy towards the year end, and have no time to respond to journalists, that too over the phone.

Like we mentioned before, two of them did respond. And here what’s they had to say.

Lakshmi Narayana, BBMP Commissioner

Achievements in 2014

  1. Roads which had pothole problems for many years were fixed.  
  2. Footpaths were constructed for many roads.
  3. CNR Rao Road junction underpass completion.
  4. Increase in the number of Tender SURE roads in 2014.
  5. Solid waste management is being resolved – the quality, delivery and collecting efficiency of solid waste in the city has increased.
  6. Water supply problems in many parts of the city is mostly tackled.

What could have been done better?

There were many plans for the city which had to be carried out in 2014. But it is never too late for any development, so we will carry it out to next year.   

Wishlist for 2015

  1. Junction improvements in Rajajinagar, Padmanabhanagar and Magadi road area.
  2. Start work on signal-free corridors from Command hospital onwards.
  3. Concentrate on the development of ward infrastructure.
  4. Also work on some of the major projects like traffic control system, junction improvements and improvements of roads in the city.

Vaman Acharya, Chairman of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board

Achievements in 2014

  1. Sped up consent mechanism to help people – targets were set to address issues in time.
  2. Strict inspections were carried out.
  3. Reusing of processed waste and reducing the amount of waste that does to the landfill.
  4. Regularised the waste management system.
  5. Construction and demolition waste was collected, crushed and converted into sand .
  6. Liquid treatment plans in apartments were increased.
  7. Awareness programs on crackers and public festivals were successful.
  8. No honking Mondays campaign has been started, to avoid noise pollution.

What could they have done better in 2014?

Administration should have been done better – in helping people deal with pollution through their own initiatives, rather than just addressing the complaints.

Wish list for 2015

  1. Urban greenery is an important issue to look at in 2015.

Our thanks to Mr Lakshmi Narayana and Mr Vaman Acharya for sharing their plans for the coming year. However, we are still a bit disgruntled, considering that we scored a dismal 20% in our efforts to find out what city authorities had in store for Bengaluru in 2015.

Well, if Citizen Matters had a wish for 2015, it would be this: That our dear city officials pick up their phones, answer questions and of course, remain accountable.

Happy New Year all!

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