It is said that “change is the only constant”. As human beings we all want and expect ‘change’, for our good. Unfortunately for us Mumbaikars, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the Shiv Sena and BJP that have been running it for more than 20 years, do not feel the same as us humans. For them ‘change is the only constant’, not for the good but for the worse.
Every year we ask ourselves or wonder if Mumbai is ready for the rains. This question worries Mumbaikars every year, more so after the disaster that we faced in 2005. That July day comes back to haunt us whenever it rains heavily in our city. We faced similar problems last year, too, and as always the BMC, along with the Shiv Sena and BJP, came up with reasons that were unjustifiable because they were conveniently putting the blame on each other.
For example, last year the Mayor of Mumbai in anticipation of a disastrous monsoon (and to save his party Shiv Sena) made a statement saying that, “Mumbai will have problems of water logging because the storm water drains have been damaged by the ongoing Metro rail project”. This year the Shiv Sena made a similar statement and for sure the city was flooded.
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All these statements are made to shirk their responsibilities, but it is not so easy to do so because the fact is the Metro rail project is a project of the Maharashtra government and the Shiv Sena and BJP are running the state government together. The question is, if the BJP-led Maharashtra government’s project was damaging the storm water drains then what was the Shiv Sena doing, watching?
They so blatantly shirk responsibility that this time around when Mumbai was waterlogged, the Mayor made another ridiculous statement; he said “there was no water logging in any part of the city” but the ground reality was seen by everybody.
Every year, just before the monsoon, leaders from both these parties visit spots along the ‘nallas’ that carry the rain water into the sea and pose for photographs to show citizens that it is being cleaned to make sure there is no flooding. Their job is to make sure it is clean to facilitate the easy passage and draining of rainwater. BMC spends a lot of money every year on this cleaning and despite that, it is never completed. So the question arises: how much of the money is actually spent or where does all the money go?
Every year it is the same story: leaders take photographs, assure Mumbaikars of a trouble-free monsoon and once it rains, the leaders disappear or make bizarre statements, leaving the citizens to fend for themselves. The contractors, who are assigned this work, never finish it. They are hand in glove with the civic administrators and the political parties that are at the helm of the BMC and therefore they are rarely punished or blacklisted. Even if they do get blacklisted, they get awarded a contract for some other project.
This year, the ruling dispensation in the BMC kept boasting about how good and efficient their new App on social media presence is and that they have managed to help a few thousand people through it. In a city where lakhs of people are suffering because of the failures of the civic administration, they are boasting about helping just a few? To be fair, I must complement the civic ground staff who helped when informed through this App and I speak from personal experience. But the thought is, if the civic administration had been active like this before the onset of monsoon, it would have saved us this suffering.
Every year we have the same problems, water logging, roads filled with potholes and life coming to a standstill due to the failures of the BMC. We keep getting the same reasons and excuses and then they boast that we are taking care and everything is under control. “It is like these people have put Mumbai in an ICU because of civic negligence and are now saying that we have the best doctors taking care of you.”
Why create a situation like this, do what you must do and don’t hold Mumbaikars to ransom, year after year.
There is a positive change that I see and it is not in the BMC or those who run it, the change is in us, we have become more resilient and we have begun to take care of ourselves. But we must remember one thing, we cannot stop expecting or asking questions to our elected representatives, they are our voice and they will always be answerable to us, we voted for them to serve us and not to fool us or rule us.
Come rainy season and Mumbaikars get a sense of Déjà vu and it is true because nothing has changed over the years, if at all, things have changed for the worse. Since ‘change is the only constant’, and we all want a change for the good in our lives, we must bring about this change in the next municipal elections. We must remove the current dispensation and bring in those who can be good.
Crasto is spokesperson, NCP Maharashtra
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