April 16, 2007

Civic 'shramdhan'

I wonder how Suryadevra Ramchandra Rao would have handled the situation caused by contamination of central water storage tank that supplies water to Mysore. That it has been in a state of neglect for years became public knowledge following recent media exposure through a citizens’ initiative led by ex-MLA Ramdas. The city corporation has since hired 150 men to clean up the tank and as a result water supply from the tank has remained suspended for the last three days and stay that way at least for the next three days.

With a more responsive civic administration the task could have been completed by now. The thought crossed my mind on reading about the Surat civic body chief in Sunday Herald. The way Surat under S R Rao coped with citywide garbage pile-up in the wake of the 1994 floods speaks of a responsive civic administration that inspired people to cooperate with the civic body. Mr Rao’s operating principle is “step out from AC to DC” (that is, from air-conditioned offices to daily chores at the street level).

The mantra motivated the staff and inspired citizens’ groups that mobilized residents into, what they called, ‘Rao sena’, to help in civic efforts. In Mysore our neighborhood netas can mobilize crowd in a jiffy for dharna, gherao or thod-phod of public property. If only they could use their crowd-forming potential for a civic shramdhan, our cash-strapped municipal corporation could have saved money on hiring labour, and accomplished the tank clean-up sooner.

The ex-MLA deserves our thanks for exposing this monumental official neglect. Had he followed up his good work by moving in his supporters for helping out with the clean-up of the water tank, the ex-MLA would have earned his credentials to become my MLA once again.

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