Citizens' Issues
Digital roadmap to build liveable cities
For good governance, the first step is to reform our information system, not our infrastructure. Here is a roadmap to improve information in our urban centers to make them liveable and to ensure we move from bad governance to good governance
 
There are five Nagar Panchayats, seven Cantonment Boards, 23 Municipal Corporations, 221 Municipal Councils, and 278 Gram Panchayats that govern 537 urban centers in Maharashtra. Most of these were created post independence. Not one of them is livable. 
 
Problems relating to food, water, energy, mobility, opportunity and even shelter plague our urban centers. They lack self-sufficiency of resources and need to mobilize more and more resources from further and further away. They generate waste at an exponential level, which they barely treat, reuse or recycle. Our civic services frequently break down, plaguing residents every day. Increasing hours are spent in commutes, as urban centers get denser and chaotic.
 
Less than 30% of our city plans are implemented. Worse, the urban areas continue to expand like unstoppable cancer. The life in our urban centers lacks dignity; in fact, it erodes the dignity of all who seek to make a life in it. 
 
Our urban centers are increasingly plagued by global problems too. They are increasingly targets of terrorism. Global pandemics bring our urban centers to a halt. The global energy crisis has been paralyzing economic activity in our urban centers. Global environmental challenges are destroying the buffers of fresh air, water, food in our urban centres.
 
Our urban administrators are increasing the costs of living in urban centers at compounding rates. They create infrastructure projects that are not in the city plans, not within the budget or even completely counter-productive to making the city livable.  They are also schizophrenic or have different responses at different times; they have no integral principles; no clarity of purpose, no commitment to public interest. They are also non-collaborative, attention deficient, indifferent, exclusive. They have completely eroded the trust citizens placed in their intentions, competence, incorruptibility and ability to protect public interest.
 
Unfortunately, we are continuing to make our urban centers increasingly unlivable, and building even more based on the same broken model. Our urban governance creates silos of information making them fragmented with multiple independent interaction points; no unity of direction; no shared practices. It is therefore little wonder that the result is bad governance.
 
How can we begin to reform this model? 
 
Information is the basis for life, sustainability, resilience, anti-fragility and livability itself. For good governance, the first step is to reform our information system, not our infrastructure. Here is a roadmap to drive information in our urban centers to make them livable and to ensure we move from bad governance to good governance.
 
 
Budget
Currently multiple agencies and departments create and spend money on similar projects at the same locations. Besides, there is a disproportionate distribution of money across different administrative or electoral wards. A simple requirement to geotag each budget item before funds can be allocated or released will help bring in transparency in local government spending. The budget should then be made public on a ward wise and urban-center wise google map at a website, such as localbody.gov.in/budget. Government assets, particularly offices, land, equipment, and vehicles owned by various government agencies should also be geotagged so that they are public at localbody.gov.in/assets, simplifying the process of auditing them.
 
 
 
Land Use
One of the biggest failures in cities is the inability to implement their respective Development Plans (DP), the cities blueprints to ensure proper land use, create livable cities, and safeguard public spaces (open grounds, gardens, hills, streams, lakes, bus-stands, schools, hospitals etc.). To ensure that the DP’s are implemented, the local bodies need to display the survey maps with ward boundaries, land-use desired as per the DP, ownership details, and any legal issues on a single website, localbody.gov.in/survey to overlay on Google maps and Google Earth. The maps should additionally display the project approval and completion details for each project on the corresponding survey number or road on the Public Google Map. A link to a Floor Space Index (FSI or how much you can build on a plot of land) and Transfer of Development Rights (TDR or where your additional building rights have been transformed from) database should highlight congestion and decongestion effected by the FSI/TDR. The site should provide a means to receive anonymous feedback on violations of DP for each survey number.
 
 
Environment Protection
Most of our streams and rivers are being converted to gutters in land grabs and sewage disposal scams. Hills, hill slopes and trees are being razed to ease congestion in the name of development. All stream, river, lake, mountain and forest area boundaries should be geotagged with physical markers at their boundaries to ensure a public alert on any alteration. Trees must be tagged with a RFID (Radio frequency ID, or a small chip that stores information that can be read from a distance by a RFID reader and can be used to do a periodic tree census) along with its geolocation to protect the trees and ensure the country’s valuable assets are not stolen or destroyed. 
 
All these assets should be displayed on a Google Map at localbody.gov.in/assets. The maps should also display in color-coding survey numbers, roads and waterbodies with inadequate trees as per the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975. The maps should show an alert for trees that are under consideration for transplanting or removal, with reasons, requestors details and a means to raise objections and also provide a means for citizens to add untagged assets or to alert anonymously about exploited, encroached or missing assets.
 
 
Mobility
Public transport routes are frequently poorly laid out. The routes are often barely known to citizens. It is difficult or impossible to have busses ply to and from locations of demand. Not only should public transport route and timetable be available on google maps and through sms query, but a website localbody.gov.in/publictransport should allow route and time scheduling for bulk users to schools, work-place, and markets.
 
RFID based prepaid bus passes for the whole year, month or day that help build real-time origin-destination demand data and make traveling by busses accessible. The website should allow citizens to log failure, breakdown or inadequate public transportation or inadequate pavements and display them on Google map at localbody.gov.in/failures in order to facilitate amelioration of the situation.
 
 
 
 
All public vehicles – buses, trucks, heavy machines, cabs, autos, should have a GPRS to track and show their movements on localbody.gov.in/security.  
 
Water distribution
Inequitable and irregular water supply plagues the cities. To ensure that the water supply is equitable and regular, IP based motorized valves for water distribution and monitoring of water released in various parts of the city are necessary. Ward-wise water availability and demand should be on maps at localbody.gov.in/water. Citizens should be able to log failure, breakdown or inadequate water supply and display on google maps at localbody.gov.in/failures. 
 
Waste Management
There is no feedback about the amount of waste generated or collected in each ward. A ward-wise map of the wet and dry waste generated and collected should be displayed at localbody.gov.in/waste.
 
There is no mechanism currently to ensure waste is collected before it overflows. Local bodies should be required to enable IP based bins with sensors that alert the collection system when they are ¾ full. Citizens should be able to log failure, breakdown or inadequate waste collection and display on Google map at localbody.gov.in/failures. 
 
Civic works
Each ongoing project should be displayed on localbody.gov.in/projects with budget code, in addition to its purpose, details, status and citizen comments. Each department should be made to update the projects status every week so that there is a common shared map of the projects on in the city.
 
Resident Registry and Passbook
It is common knowledge that the UID is merely a random number assigned to unverified and unaudited data submitted by third parties paid per record. Since the UID is not a proof of identity, address or even a proof of existence, the use of such unauditable, unverifiable and unauthentic-able number to authenticate identity, to serve as the basis for governance, to be used to deliver benefits, rights and entitlements, to be used to open bank accounts and transfer money, to create citizen registers or electoral rolls is seriously compromising governance, national security and the rule of law. 
 
 
The government can enable a Shared ID at localbody.gov.in/sharedId, as was designed in Pune to allow citizens to create, own and share their own ID with complete control on who can see or use the ID and logs of access by third parties to their information. They can also access information on demography, energy use, water use, land use, mobility and other details in their neighbourhood after logging in to their account on localbody.gov.in/sharedId. Citizens can also track the taxes paid, services, benefits available and availed from the local body. They can also access to their certificates and documents issued by the local body. 
 
The opportunity
Will the Chief Minister of Maharashtra seize the opportunity to make Maharashtra’s urban centres livable, usher in good governance and improve the lot for all of us?
 
(Dr Anupam Saraph is a Professor, Future Designer, former governance and IT advisor to Goa’s former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the Global Agenda Councils of the World Economic Forum.)
 

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COMMENTS

Abhijit Gosavi

2 years ago

Just like cleanliness, following traffic rules is a matter of habit, but it will make cities livable. In the smaller cities like Pune (smaller in comparison to the metros), people drive like crazy --- with reckless disregard for traffic rules and lights.

In Kothrud, Pune, it is impossible to cross the (main) Paud Road where it intersects with the MIT Road --- with all those mo-bikes and even larger vehicles plying non-stop with no concern for pedestrians. Installing traffic cops there is not a practical solution, as they will only be interested in bribes.

And Pune is supposedly a city of retirees, but those retired folks can't take morning walks anymore.

manoharlalsharma

2 years ago

Root cause of the LITIGATION is to change the ‘CETEGORY OF THE PLOT’
Brief story of manage to Registrar of co-operative (C.I.D.C.O.) to acquire a large size at Prime located Land-Grab then Conspiracy to get Redevelopment Rights unopposed by chief promoters of ‘Shree Ganesh Co-operative Housing Society’ plot No-1,Secter No-28,Nerul (W), Navi-Mumbai through remote controlled MC and without any Capital investment (Finance) A ‘MODEL LITIGANT’
(A) Reference to a directive issued from State Government vide letter No-1093-3112-14C dated, 6th February 1993 to the Registrars of Co-operative to Register only FIVE (5) co-operative Housing societies to the A.P.M.C. traders/market functionary for residential accommodation (As per submission to the HC/Mumbai from ‘C.I.D.C.O.’ legal department ) In the year of 1993, but instead of FIVE, registered SIX (6) and surprisingly all of the allotted plots from ‘C.I.D.C.O.’ are developed and sold as ‘GENRAL-CATEGORY’ with a contractual ‘RIDER’ in all development agreements were assured to membership of the respective Housing Societies by a single developer i.e. MAYURESH DEVLOPERS, including the sixth one, is listed as plot No. 1, at Sector 28, Nerul (W) , allotted to ‘Shree Ganesh Co-operative Housing Society’, but immediately after getting Occupation Certificate, Society Committee adopted an ‘undemocratic’ bye-laws to deny our membership even after most of the individuals having sale agreements as ‘TRI-PARTY’ i.e. - Builder / developer + Society Promoters + We, individually
(it is a matter of an Investigation by agencies like Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB)),
(B) Since last ,15 years blocking of Basic Membership rights of 314 families by MC has created unwarranted litigation on a/c of A.P.M.C. and NON-A.P.M.C. with hidden material from an already decided PIL -474/1996 & ignorant of rejected WP-5771/97 with remark as ‘it is an abuse of the process of law’ then Supreme Court also rejected the SLP/10922 -10998 with respondent as chief Promoter appearing on No-12 and was one of the part of WP-5771/97 and
(C) At present WP-8508/2003 to get STAY order against the final order of State Government to change by laws and accommodate us as member based on our HC WP-No 4481/2001 vide No- RVA 2702/CR-208/15-C, Date-25/08/2003

Rahul Apte

2 years ago

Fantastic way to leverage Information Technology for the benefit of the common man ! I sincerely hope we get the current Govt. to implement this model & build smart cities.

Rahul Apte

2 years ago

So glad to see Information Technology being leveraged for the benefit of the common man. I sincerely hope the current Govt. puts this model to use & build smarter cities.

Anil Agashe

2 years ago

Very well articulated. This can be easily implemented and our life can be made better. I hope the governments Central, state and local take this advise seriously and implement this quickly.

Shama Zaidi

2 years ago

Since physical presence in offices is not required, all government offices should send their workforce to smaller towns. Also retires bureaucrats, judges and politicians should not be given special facilities to own houses/flats in large cities . Instead they should also be encouraged to move to smaller towns on retirement. many corporates and private and public sector companies should also relocate to smaller towns. Also car repair facilities and stone-cutting etc. etc. should not be allowed in large metro centres, but should relocate to nearby towns.

Sachin

2 years ago

We actually need livable cities that are smart. A very pertinent view point.

Narendra Doshi

2 years ago

Just In Time for Shri Fadnavis to promise faster implementation on 7th Feb ML foundation day, MOST or ALL of these IDEAS.

Mutual fund folio count surges to over 4 crore in April-December

The rise in retail folios is mainly due to addition in the equity segment, which was supported by sharp rally in the stock markets

 

Driven by addition in equity fund folios, mutual fund houses have registered a surge of more than seven lakh investor accounts during the first nine months of FY2014-15.
 
The addition comes after fund houses lost about 33 lakh investor accounts in the entire last fiscal year. Folios are numbers designated to individual investor accounts, though one investor can have multiple folios.
 
According to the data from Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI) on total investor accounts with 45 fund houses, the number of folios rose to 4.03 crore at the end of 31 December 2014 from 3.95 crore duing same period last year, a gain of 7.28 lakh folios.
 
Of the 4.03 crore folios, retail investors accounted for 3.86 crore folios, followed by HNI accounts (13.22 lakh) and institutional investors (3.34 lakh).
 
Industry officials say the rise in retail folios is mainly due to addition in the equity segment, which was supported by sharp rally in the stock markets.
 
"Increased participation by retail investors in equities has undoubtedly led to increase in folio numbers. The industry's focus on investor awareness seems to have contributed to further growth, in terms of new investors coming in," HSBC Global Asset Management India CEO Puneet Chaddha said.
 
"The key contributing factors seem to be an uptick in sentiments and expectations of an investor friendly and reform-oriented government delivering on policy changes," he added.
 
The number of mutual investor accounts had been falling since March 2009 at about 2% a year. Since March 2014, however, there is a arrest in the rate of decline, AMFI noted.
 
The equity category saw an addition of more than 12 lakh folios to 3.03 crore investors at the end of 31 December 2014.
 
The segment saw first rise in folios in April after reporting a consistent decline in investors account in last four years.
 
The addition in equity folios is in line with BSE's benchmark Sensex surging by 23% in the first nine months of the current financial year.
 
Besides, nearly 80% of the investor accounts are in equity oriented schemes, while 17% of the accounts are in debt related schemes.
 

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AIB Roast pulls down its controversial video from YouTube

Several organisations have filed FIR against the alleged obscene nature of the content of AIB Roast 

 

The members of expletive-laced comedy show 'AIB Roast' have removed their latest three part video from YouTube after it sparked a controversy for obscene language and content.
 
AIB has tweeted saying, "Have taken down AIB Knockout for now. We will speak soon."
 
The celebrity roast, which is first of its kind in India, featured a panellist of eight AIB members with filmmaker Karan Johar taking over the role of 'roast master' to grill 'Gunday' stars Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor on their professional and personal lives.
 
The show, which is being probed by the Maharashtra Government, ran into trouble when several organisations filed first information report (FIR) against the alleged obscene nature of the content along with censor board member Ashoke Pandit coming out heavily against it.
 
"They can't use the language in public that is not decent in any form. The entire show was abnormal," Pandit had said.
 
Pandit, however, was slammed by Twitter community for his derogatory comments against Johar.
 
The online community seems divided over the issue as three hashtags have been trending on twitter.
 
The AIB roast event, staged in Mumbai in December, was attended by 4,000 people and the audience included Johar's mother, Sonakshi Sinha, Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone among others.
 

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