Empower and activate SMC

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Srinagar, it goes without saying is one of the dirtiest cities today. This winter the huge mounds of snow were left there to melt of its own, with nobody from among the civic authorities bothering to dispose it off as used to be case in the past. So the situation is such that the melting of this snow has created puddles of murk everywhere. With filth and garbage lying around for days, the city is at its dirtiest. This is despite the fact that that there is a full quorum of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) in place, and the recent amendments in laws have also empowered the elected councilors to do take care of the city’s and its people’s civic needs with good money available at their disposal, including the ward development funds, for this purpose. Needless to say that the sanitation, roads, electricity, drinking water and drainage sector, which should have been the focus area of the concerned councilors, remain as neglected like never before.

Blame it on the general politico-official culture here, fact of the matter is that SMC councilors even after being there for quite some time now are actually visible nowhere on the ground, nor are their contributions, if any, discernible anywhere. When the elections for the SMC were being held, all those people who participated, like their counterparts in the higher political echelons, made towering promises with the general public. But after being elected to office, they have gone, as if, missing. The pathetically pitiable condition of the entire Srinagar city — be it in terms of roads, streets and drains, or the condition of electricity and water supply — is indeed a very sad commentary on the existence and utility of the elected city council.

Thus far, it has only been because of the dirty political slugfests involving SMC councilors which have indicated their presence on a few occasions. Otherwise when it comes to working for the development of the city, and welfare of its people, their contributions score a big zero. Now that the government is mulling to put municipal councilors in the driving seat for running the affairs of the city, it is also necessary that the latter are also held responsible in lieu of whatever accrues to them by way of what is being termed would be their “empowerment”.

A little bit of political will together with a little quantum of sincerity to serve is all that is needed to put his disjointed city back on track. And if the elected representatives of the city have it in them, nothing is going to stop them from delivering on the ground. In fact they have so many added advantages. Unlike the bureaucracy, since councilors are chosen by the people of their respective wards, they have a better idea of their needs and requirements. They have far more intimate understanding about the local cultures and public temperaments. They are ideally situated to mediate the general developmental needs of the city including its civic requirements.

It is high time that besides their own “empowerment” the municipal councilors start moving around to ensure empowerment of the common people of this God-forsaken city as well. Taking care of the broken roads and streets and chocked drains, and of course delivering this city from the greedy clutches of encroachers and land-grabbers can be an ideal take-off point.


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