Municipal bodies are not paid to put up signs all over the city saying they are doing their job, because in most cases they are not

One hears constant complaints emanating from diverse quarters about the problems created by the multiplicity of authority in Delhi. The fact that the Central Government functions from Delhi is one reason that this multiplicity of authority, as the Americans would say, is not going to go nowhere anytime soon.

We have learnt to put up with the confusing state of affairs of roads, street lights, water supply, gardens, pavements, monuments, reserve forests, bus shelters, traffic flow design and what have you being designed executed and maintained by a plethora of authorities with overlapping spheres of activity leading to much confusion and wastage of resources.

The MCD, the NDMC, The Delhi Cantonment Board, The Delhi Development Authority, The Public Works Department, The Central Public Works Department, The Delhi Transport Corporation, The Delhi Metro Corporation, BSES and NDPL, the Chief Conservator of Forests in Delhi, The Archaeological Survey of India, The Department of Archeology Delhi and the MCD's own heritage section, stepping on each other's toes all the time. One could go on and on, but there is no need.

One rather ridiculous outcome of these mindless turf wars is the tendency to mark your own territory and to announce it to the whole world. The idea perhaps is to show how inefficient the others are instead of showing how efficient you are.

Nations mark their borders, at times with walls and barbed wire and electric fences, provinces mark them with welcome arches on national highways. Most carnivores also mark their territory, the most visible boundary markers are the domesticated members of the canine family. Whether it is nations, provinces or animals all are ready to fight for their territory, but what about our Municipal authorities? They mark their territory with preposterously ludicrous metal or concrete signs. What do these signs indicate “we remove trash from this territory, we clean the drains in this area and we put up the road signs on this stretch”.

Should any respectable organisation, charged with these tasks, go around blowing its own trumpet and making a song and dance about it? The tax payers pay them to do this. These bodies are not paid to put up signs all over the city saying they are doing their job, because in most cases they are not.

If they were, the courts won't have to give them deadlines to rid the city of rotting waste, control the stray dog population, rid the city of stray cattle, so on and so forth. Instead of doing its job, the MCD has put up huge signs, right outside the Old Delhi Railway Station, the signs do not welcome visitors to the city, they instead inform them that MCD is building the city of their dreams, don't miss the emphasis on the act of “building” and whose dreams are they building, not mine and yours, because most of their buildings are nightmares, perhaps the builders dreams.

Every sign board put up by the MCD has Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the name of the road written in roughly the same font size, making it difficult to decipher who the sign commemorates Shyama Prasad Mukherji or Dilli Nagar Nigam. The NDMC aside from marking their territory has also ensured that their logo occupies almost 20 per cent of the surface area of each sign board, at times even more. Are these service providers to the citizens or are they corporate houses advertising SBrand Municipality? Does anyone care? From April 15 there will be not one but three Municipal Corporations! More is certainly not going to be merrier.

PHOTOS: Sohail Hashmi

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