Pointing out that cities occupy just two per cent of land but generate 70 per cent of waste, President Pratibha Patil said here on Friday that citizens must participate to ensure good governance and they must give equal importance to duties, and not just focus on rights.
“A city depends as much upon its planners and administration, as on the people dwelling in it, who essentially determine its character. Hence, the feeling that it is for the government alone to take action is not correct. As Gandhiji has said, No people have risen who thought only of rights. Only those did so, who thought of duties,” she said after conferring the ‘Nagar Ratna Awards’ upon 12 Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils.
She appealed to the local self-government bodies to create conditions where citizens can become partners and said that there was a two-way relationship between the local self-government bodies and the citizens.
“Individuals should have a sense of civic duty. From waste management, to energy and water conservation, to planting trees — all these can be successful only with citizens’ participation. Each person can contribute, NGOs can contribute, housing societies can contribute and industry can contribute in making a positive difference to our urban habitats,” she said.
The ‘Nagar Ratna Awards’ have been instituted by the All-India Institute of Local Self-Government (AIILSG) to recognise the best performing municipal bodies under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. A selection committee, headed by the former Supreme Court Justice Arijit Pasayat, evaluated the performance of various cities on nine parameters, while adjudging the winners.
“Twenty urban local bodies participated in this competition. We judged them on various parameters like innovative ideas, responsive application, data verification and assessment,” Mr. Pasayat said.
There were two categories of awards. Three awards were given for the best overall performance. Nine awards were declared for good performance in different segments such as public health, roads and streets.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, which was adjudged the best-run organisation, was given Rs.5 lakh and a trophy. The Mysore City Corporation received the second prize and the Pune Municipal Corporation was declared the third winner. Gujarat looked the best-performing State after four of the 12 awards were bagged by Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot and Vadodara. Maharashtra inched a close second as three urban local self-government bodies – Pune, Nashik, Kalyan-Dombivali – bagged prizes.
Under the segment awards, the best public services award went to the Nashik Municipal Corporation. The Kalyan –Dombivili Municipal Corporation won the award for improvement of roads and streets.
The Vadodara Municipal Corporation won the award for providing basic amenities to urban poor. Bengaluru was awarded for financial management, Vishakhapatnam for use of Information Technology in governance and service delivery, Faridabad for recreational facilities, Rajkot for complaints redress system, Surat for innovation and Agartala for transparency and accountability.
“As we draw [town] plans, we should not only cater to the needs of current inhabitants, but should look at developing cities and townships, keeping in mind a minimum of a 25-year timeframe. Works like road and drainage construction or repair, should be taken in a coordinated manner by adopting an integrated development framework for an area,” she said.
“The construction of green buildings, designed for energy conservation and water harvesting, should be encouraged as also the construction of earthquake-resistant buildings. Local self-government bodies must ensure that building plans and standards are strictly adhered to,” she said.
“The population of slum-dwellers in Indian cities has risen from 26 million in 1981 to 62 million in 2001. Being at the lower rung of the ladder, they constitute the vulnerable section that is likely to suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease. Cities must work towards meeting the basic requirements of all and to eradicating poverty. ,” the President said.
Hailing women power, Ms. Patil said that women should be actively drawn into planning and development process. She observed that six of the nine municipal bodies which received awards in the segments category, were headed by women.
“I am happy that there are women representatives in our elected urban bodies constituting 36 per cent of the membership, which is proposed to be increased to 50 per cent,” she said.
Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan also supported greater representation to women in local self-government bodies. “Corruption in local bodies is less when women members are there.”
The President accepted the request of Jatin Modi, president of the AIILSG, for holding a meeting of representatives of local self-government bodies in the Rashtrapati Bhavan to demonstrate the ‘Roshini’ project implemented there.
The programme has been implemented to make the Rashtrapati Bhavan an eco-friendly estate. It includes recycling of waste and water, waste management, vermi-culture, use of new and renewable energy resources. “Urban planners and dwellers should develop models that create hygienic, efficient, eco-friendly and participatory urban settlements.” Hindu