patrol beat

Living On Hope - by Asha Rai/TNN

Last week, the MLA of Mahadevapura, Arvind Limbavali, sat surrounded by all the issues of the Times of India which featured the Bangalore Patrol campaign. A careful perusal later, he committed, on the spot, to chalk out an action plan to improve the scores for the wards that fall under his constituency.  He plans to sit with all the corporators whose wards come under Mahadevapura and have a plan of action in place by Sankranti (January 2011) to ensure that the wards have better scores on the survey in the next round.

Limbavali’s plan is to take up three to four problem areas for actioning on a pilot basis and work out probable solutions to improve their delivery within a specific timeframe. Bangalore Patrol scores will be used as a bench mark to effect improvements and changes. The areas identified for initial action are public transport, environment, solid waste management, parks and playgrounds.

That’s the kind of impact Bangalore Patrol, one of India’s most ambitious programmes in the civic space has met with from all the stakeholders involved in the governance of the city.  The survey, which for the first time collected primary data on a number of civic parameters, assessed each and every ward of Bangalore in terms of the civic services that were available to the citizens.

People of the city have responded to the campaign in an overwhelming way as evident by the hundreds of letters that have poured into the mail-box and the interest the public events generated.  The initiative  generated such a strong connect because, for the very first time, it articulated in hard data what people had always known anecdotally about the state of their roads, transport, water supply, civic amenities, environment, sanitation and crime.

The exhaustive 198 ward wise data that Bangalore Patrol has put in their hands has helped them mobilize better and present their case in a more structured format to their elected representatives, i,e the corporators and MLAs and  the government agencies, particularly the utility chiefs.

The public meetings held under the aegis of Bangalore Patrol, an initiative of the Times of India conceived and managed by Janaagraha, brought together citizens and civic authority heads under the same roof and allowed the people of the city to interact directly with them about their grievances.

While the scores reflect the reality of Bangalore, it does not in any sense say that the city has become unlivable.  Bangalore’s still an amazing place to call `home.’ But the truth is that the extraordinary growth of the city in the past decade has par outpaced the growth in civic infrastructure.  The aim of Bangalore Patrol is to empower the people of Bangalore.  And, also, to showcase the best practices and worst problems. Best practices of wards like say Gandhinagar in sanitation (it has scored 100% success with its zero garbage campaign) can be replicated in other wards which are yet to achieve the same rate of success. Poorly performing wards could look at the wards in the Rajajinagar assembly constituency and figure what has worked for them to have put them on top of heap overtaking their more famous neighbourhoods.

Bangalore Patrol has also buried some myths. The accepted wisdom in the city was that the best areas to live in were the posh  Sadashivanagara, Indira Nagar, Defence Colony, Koramangala, Malleswaram etc. It transpires that these aren’t really that posh if the civic infrastructure of these areas is studied minutely.  Many of these areas score abysmally on mobility, on civic amenities, on water supply etc. On the other hand areas like Ganesh Mandir,   Srirman Mandir emerged tops because of the all-round development of their wards.

The endeavor of Bangalore Patrol is to sensitize the corporators and others involved in the delivery of civic services to the seventy lakh Bangaloreans of the problems facing the city and motivate them to fix them in such a way that the quality of life for the citizens as a whole is much improved. To help wards compare scores, militate to get better amenities for their own wards when compared to the better performing ones and to learn from the best practices of the others.

While this survey  concludes today in a formal sense, the issues raised by it will keep getting addressed in the pages of the Times of India from time to time.  Stay tuned, as we plan to run an occasional series on Bangalore Patrol in the coming weeks.