Activate Municipalities and Panchayats

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After the successful completion of civic body polls, people have without fail been treated to the claims that government has strengthened the Panchayati Raj Institutions. Theoretically speaking, the claim is true. But the practical reality is that the people who have been elected by the general public to take care of their civic needs are visible nowhere on the ground. And this is despite the fact that the government has been stressing that that roads, electricity, drinking water, drainage and other civic amenities be the focus area of the concerned “elected representatives”.

Now blame it on the general politico-official culture here, fact of the matter is that SMC councilors, for instance, even after being there for quite some time now are actually visible nowhere on the ground, nor are their contributions, if any, discernible anywhere. In fact 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 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, 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 termed as 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 and the towns and the villages back on track. And if the elected representatives 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, panches and sarpanches are chosen by the people of their respective areas, 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 people including their civic requirements.

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

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