Public Participation in Policy Planning Plays a key Role in Managing Civic Affairs

20th Nov, 2017

Urban planning appears to be in a crisis. Dictated more by private capital and the ambitious outlook of the planners, our cities are witnessing a skewed development pattern, given the increasing disconnect with the people it is meant to serve.

Though public participation in planning is not a new idea, the present scenario calls for an improved connect, communication and engagement with the people. Experts say public participation in policy planning has played a key role in managing the affairs and easing any strain between the administration and the people. Be it the mohala commitees formed in 1994 post the communal riots in Mumbai or the advanced locality management teams formed in 1998, both the initiatives proved to be an excellent bridge between the public and the administration to sort out any community-related or civic issues.

"The ALM is crucial for urban planning as it encourage public participation in civic works and makes the administration accountable. The pace and quality of civic works can definitely improve with active public participation," says citizen activist Adolf D'souza.

Local residents and activists illustrate how such a communication channel is necessary for a city like Thane where there have been instances like the delay in building of the Kapurbawdi flyover, the Satis deck outside Thane station or even the four under-construction flyovers in the city that seemed to have become a menace instead of assuring convenience for the commuters.

A group of residents had initially opposed the plan for the three MMRDA sponsored flyovers in Thane city and there were talks of filing a PIL but eventually due to an apparent lack of sustenance from the members and an apparent dismissive approach of the administration, all opposition to the plans faded away, recalls a social activist from city.

While municipal commissioner Sanjeev Jaiswal has attempted to bridge the gap, activists said the apparent lack of healthy communication between the stake holders has fuelled talks of establishing a micro-managing system or an advanced locality management in the city akin to the ones in Mumbai. There should be regular meetings between the residents, ward offices and the political representatives.

Shyama Kulkarni, Bandra resident and trustee of the Action for Good Governance and Networking In India (AGNI) justifies that the ALM concept could be relevant to Thane. "Residents can have a real time interaction with the TMC while planning civic projects in local areas," said Kulkarni.

"Unlike Mumbai, the need here should be to include other avenues like enforcing civic initiatives like parking policies, setting up timings for parks, water management to name a few. The need of the hour is a healthy communication and have regular meetings," said T N Raghunatha, a member of the Residents of Gladys Alwares Road Association.


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