Livable, breathable, and walkable Delhi demanded ahead of MCD elections!

Urja has released its manifesto with a wish list related to energy, air pollution, civic issues and governance.

United Residents Joint Action (URJA), an organization representing over 2500 Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) of Delhi, has issued a charter of demands ahead of the municipal councilor elections (MCD elections) to be held next month.

It calls for a livable, breathable, and walkable city. This organization wants political parties to solve the problems of land, water etc. and improve governance by giving priority to the deteriorating air quality of the city.

The manifesto includes seven key demands, 12 goals, and a roadmap for providing solutions and achieving them. It demands that the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, in its first 100 days, publish a roadmap and with its help clarify how it intends to fulfill the demands of the citizens in the next five years. This roadmap should be clear with measurable, time-bound and ward-specific targets to achieve the citizen demands over the next five years. This roadmap should be accompanied by the publication of regular reports on the progress of allocated budget and expenditure, as well as audit by the CAG.

Speaking at the launch of the manifesto on Tuesday, Atul Goyal, Chairman, Urja, said, “The MCD needs an immediate and holistic change in its approach and practices to be able to meet the demands of the people. The most important change the MCD needs to make for every service in every ward is to work in partnership with the public to build accountability and identify solutions that work on the ground. Wards in Delhi differ greatly from each other as there are rural and urban and semi-urban areas.

Each of them requires a customized approach, ward-specific budget and local area planning based on existing infrastructure status, population density and socio-economic factors. Contesting candidates should release their detailed plan on how they will solve the issues faced by their wards with the available budget and funds. Candidates should also engage RWAs and citizens on grievance redressal and utilization of local area funds.”

Former Delhi High Court judge Justice Sunil Gaur and Air Marshal Malhotra were also present at the launch.

Among the goals of the MCD, this election manifesto of citizens calls for better ward-level waste management, making 80% of the city’s roads friendly to pedestrians, cyclists and non-motorized transport, forest cover, which That has been steady at 21% since 2015, an increase that includes the demand for stray cattle care and sterilization, fire systems and the purchase of only electric vehicles for the municipal corporation. Dr. HC Gupta, President, Federation of Ashok Vihar RWAs, who is also a member of the Senate of Energy, said, “The movement of stray cattle on busy roads is a traffic menace and disrupts traffic. There should be strict monitoring and control mechanism with community leaders, who can bring desired results in all areas and make Delhi more walkable and livable for its citizens.”

Delhi is often ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world and hence the MCD needs to prioritize action to address the problem. The Manifesto of Energy suggests possible ways that civic bodies can improve their dust pollution measures, waste management and sanitation processes, air pollution monitoring networks, transport and urban mobility systems. Wing Commander Jasbir Chadda, Secretary General, Urja, said, “Most air pollution action plans of the government emphasize on increasing tree cover and do not aim to reduce and remove sources of pollution through technology, finance and awareness.

Delhi has 13 air pollution hotspots including Wazirpur and RK Puram. While Wazirpur has a lot of industries and commercial clusters, RK Puram has a much higher tree cover. Then why is RK Puram still a hotspot of air pollution? Action plans need to take a bottom-up approach to tackling ward-level pollution sources, rather than generic, one-size-fits-all approaches and solutions. The MCD, as an implementing agency, needs to move from simply monitoring pollution sources to abatement, and where necessary, effective shutdowns throughout the year, not just in winter.”

Responding, former Chief Secretary, Government of Delhi, Shailaja Chandra said, “The Urja Manifesto is a sensible, remarkable roadmap for an ambitious elected body. Municipal sanitation and veterinary staff have maximum interface with RWAs and residents but they are mostly invisible. There is a need for a fixed monthly ground level cleaning with supervisors in each colony, along with veterinary and horticulture staff meeting between colony RWAs and residents where local issues can be brought up. RWAs should be asked to rate the accountability of the staff every month. More accountability is needed.”

Over the next few weeks, URJA will present its wish list to members of major political parties contesting elections, ward level candidates and state representatives to ensure that the demands are included in the party manifesto. “We will also share a pledge to sign and commit with the ward level candidates. We expect political parties to make their manifestos in line with the demands of the citizens and fulfill them after coming to power.