Multitude Of Authorities Behind Delhi Mess, Says Report
Technical problems in the complaint redressal mechanism, lost data and many instances of zero discussion on civic issues during ward committee meetings were some of the key findings that showed the lack of intent to address these issues the citizens of the national capital face on a day-to-day basis. This was unveiled in a whitepaper (Report on Civic Issues Registered by Citizens And Deliberations by Municipal Councillors in Delhi and the MLAs in the State Assembly sessions) released by the Praja Foundation, a non-governmental organisation working towards enabling accountable governance. The whitepaper studies numbers between January 2013 to December 2017.
The report shows that as many as 3,54,788, 4,51,494 and 3,88,484 complaints were filed by the citizens in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. Of these while MLAs only raised 3,20, 374 and 567 issues, the councillors raised 8,195, 8,670 and 7,704 issues in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. On an average, only 9-10 per cent of the total issues registered were raised by members of legislative assembly (MLAs) and councillors in ward meetings. This shows the administrative officials’ lack of intent and deliberations by elected representatives.
All the data released in the report are obtained through the Right to Information (RTI).
Here are some of the key findings of the report:
*Water supply issues have been the highest among civic problems citizens faced during 2015-2017. The numbers of cases reported were 1,50,885 in 2015, 2,27,444 in 2016 and 1,65,735 in 2017. However, councillors raised issues related to water only "29 times" from April-December 2017, the report said.
*The maximum number of issues raised at the end of 2017 was in the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) ward at 1,65,021 followed by 1,54,952 in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and 68,511 in the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
*Some of the top zones from where the maximum number of complaints were registered include Shahdara South (sewerage), West Delhi (water supply; drainage choking, blockage and cleaning of manholes; and garbage not collected), Civil Lines (unauthorised construction), Karol Bagh (stormwater management), Rohini (animal nuisance; and mosquito breeding).
*The attendance and the number of issues raised by the MLAs at ward meetings has also come forth as a concern. The average attendance in the corporation meetings has dropped from 92 per cent in 2015 to 87 per cent in 2017. Also, there have been instances where zero civic issues have been raised by the MLAs at corporation meetings. Nine sessions in 2015, 11 in 2016 and 5 in 2017 have seen zero civic issues being raised. In a large number of sessions, only one to five issues has been raised by the MLAs.
*According to the report, complaints related to contaminated water registered in Delhi Jal Board (DJB) have increased by 24 per cent from Jan-Dec 2015 to Jan-Sept 2017. “This is especially alarming since contaminated water is a breeding ground for preventable diseases and a basic goal of our governments should be to eradicate deaths due to preventable diseases. According to RTI data from our Health study, there were a total of 6,22,480 diarrhoea cases in 2016 and 303 institutional deaths in Delhi due to Diarrhoea in 2014 and 2015,” the report said.
* While all the complaints shown in the report are received from January 2017-December 2017, except complaints received from the DJB. The DJB complaints were only available from Jan 2017-Sept 2017. In an RTI response to the Praja Foundation, an Executive Engineer of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), also the Public Information Officer (PIO), responded, “Due to technical problem in Complaint Redressal Mechanism (CRM) of call centre application, no information is available from 1.10.2017 to 31.12.2017.”
The need of the hour
While the number of issues citizens are facing is on a rise, the raising of issues has been very low. This shows the negligible intent of the authorities to address the issues. However, these issues need a steadfast response. The need of the hour is to have robust technical systems that ensure that these complaints are registered and addressed on time. While the complaint registration systems are in place there is no mechanism to track the status of the authorities addressing the issue. According to the report, “a long-term plan needs to be put in place to fundamentally reform the system and prevent recurring problems from happening in the future.” Moreover, it is the administration that needs to become proactive in addressing these civic issues which are a health hazard, too.