THIS citizens’ group from Aundh was set up, and continues to be involved in civic issues, on the basis of one principle: a sense of belonging among the citizens leads to citizen-centric development. The Aundh Vikas Mandal (AVM) has not only played a key role in solving day-to-day problems of the people and creating awareness about public policies, but has also been a catalyst in Smart City initiative, which is being implemented on a pilot basis in Aundh Baner area.
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AVM was founded in 1988, when a group of citizens from the suburb came together thanks to the efforts of Sarayu Sanghvi, who is now an octogenarian but still active in the group.
“In the initial days, AVM members went door-to-door, trying to understand the problems of the residents and approaching the civic body to find solutions for them. The issues that we have been dealing with include garbage collection, sewage systems, water supply, public transport and civic infrastructure,” said AVM member Vaishali Patkar.
“However, we don’t always find a solution to the problems… at times it’s an issue of how civic officials respond and at times the issue is just about resources,” she added.
Patkar said, “Over the years, we have observed that there is a serious lack of awareness among citizens about the existing rules, policies, as well as their own rights and duties. The AVM has been actively involved in conducting awareness programmes for people. It has also worked actively towards improving the quality of life of citizens living in slum areas.”
The AVM has also played a key role in the development of a road infrastructure which is conducive for both pedestrians and non-motorised transport.
When asked about the Smart City initiative — the pilot project will be implemented in Aundh Baner area — Patkar said, “The idea is to bring all civic amenities together and have a digital interface for all of them. Right from garbage collection, health care and transport, a digital user interface will make those services efficient and user-friendly… we will continue working with civic authorities to achieve this goal.”
Speaking about the group’s journey, AVM founder member Sarayu Sanghvi said, “It has been a satisfying journey… we have learnt that it is the sense of belonging among people, towards civic issues, which will lead to people-centric development. We started coming together back in 1988, when we faced a drainage issue in our area. Today, we have become a key player, involved in all civic issues. We feel our group can prove to be a good model for citizens who want to come together to find solutions to their own issues.”