This, is in spite of a total of 3,060 complaints filed in 2015, 2016, and 2017 on fires in houses/buildings.
New Delhi: Notwithstanding a range of civic issues, including sewerage problems and water woes affecting the national capital, city legislators and councillors did not raise the issues in the Assembly and civic bodies adequately, an NGO has claimed.
According to a white paper released by Praja Foundation at a press conference here today, “as many as 1,65,735 complaints were raised by Delhi citizens related to water supply and 73,088 related to sewerage issues in 2017”.
However, only “59 water-related issues” were raised by MLAs in the Delhi Assembly last year, claims the paper titled — Report on civic issues registered by citizens and deliberations by municipal councillors in ward committees and the MLAs in the Assembly sessions. Councillors raised issues related to water only “29 times” from April-December 2017, it said.
“This is not the kind of response one would expect to an official Right to Information (RTI) application seeking basic information such as the number of complaints registered in an official complaint mechanism of a State-run body in India. The carelessness in handling citizens’ issues is disheartening,” Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee of Praja Foundation, said.
Other issues such as pollution, fire in houses and buildings, storm water drainage problems, nuisance from stray dogs and monkeys, were also raised by citizens but these did not get reflected in the quantum of issues raised by MLAs and municipal councillors, including in 2015 and 2016, the NGO alleged.
“22,574 complaints were made on nuisance caused by stray animals, but the issue has been raised only five times by the MLAs and 182 times by councillors (during April-December) in 2017,” the report said.
The foundation claimed that all data has been “obtained through the Right to Information (RTI). The report also stated that 716 issues (9% of all issues) raised by councillors in ward committee meetings from April-December 2017 were an expression of frustration towards the working of the administration.
The data procured by Praja reveals that Civil Lines Zone under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) saw the highest number (51,553) of civic complaints in 2017. Overall complaints in Delhi city also rose by 9% over three years from 3,54,788 in 2015 to 3,88,484 in 2017, the white paper stated. Among major civic issues under the State Government, Water Supply registered the most number of complaints (1,65,735) in 2017. Among major civic issues under the Corporations, Nuisance due to stray dogs, monkeys, etc. registered the most number of complaints (22,574) in 2017.
On the deliberation front, data found that one in every four newly elected councillors did not attend ward committee meetings from Apr-Dec 2017. Even where issue is being raised, the report said, they seem to be poorly prioritised. For instance, in 2017, civic complaints relating to Water such as No water, contamination of water, etc., consisting of 43% (1,65,735) of all civic complaints in Delhi. And yet, a dismal number of all issues i.e. 0.4% (29 issues) raised by Councillors and 10% (59 issues) raised by MLAs were on the water related issues, in 2017.
“Data such as this indicates why elected representatives must constantly pay heed to citizens’ voices. On several points, our data suggests consistent apathy on the part of elected representatives in the face of clearly increasing public concern,” Milind Mhaske, Director at Praja Foundation said. While the Indian National Congress (INC) has mentioned fire safety in its manifesto, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have not mentioned the topic at all. Additionally, over the past three years (2015, 2016, and 2017), only 3 issues have been raised by MLAs on Fires in buildings/houses. Similarly, just 1 issue has been raised by Councillors in 2015, 2016 and April-December of 2017.
This, is in spite of a total of 3,060 complaints filed in 2015, 2016, and 2017 on fires in houses/buildings. The white paper placed into focus the multiplicity of authorities and recommended the creation of a centralised grievance redressal mechanism, which also has a complaint audit to gauge citizen satisfaction, as well as for various modes of lodging a complaint. It pushed for greater communication and coordination between Municipal, State and Central Governments operating in Delhi and a greater policy structure while addressing citizens’ issues.
“Complaints relating to major issues like sewerage, removal of dead animals, contamination of water are also major potential public health hazards. They have showed a continuous rise, and the problems faced by citizens are showing no sign of going away, for years on end. The Government must show initiative to eradicate these problems for good and bring about policy changes.”, said Nitai Mehta a in a press conference.