Mumbai’s most underprivileged municipal ward may soon become India’s first model for People’s Planning Process (PPP), involving all the stakeholders, including citizens, government and municipal bodies, NGOs and educational institutes.

Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) on Saturday, announced the completion of the socio economic surveys conducted in the ward, which mark the first phase of the project, which is called M ward initiative. Using the data collected in the surveys, in the second phase of the project, TISS along with the stakeholders will be releasing a comprehensive plan for the development of the ward, by prioritizing needs of the people in the ward. “Similar work can be done in the other parts of the country as well, following this model,” said S. Parsuraman, Director, TISS. The detailed report on the findings of the survey will be published on December 20.

M-East ward of Mumbai has the lowest Human Development Index among all 24 municipal wards in Mumbai. According to census 2011, 85% of the ward’s population lives in slums. The M-East ward which forms the Eastern boundary of Mumbai is home for the city’s biggest dumping ground, which receives around 4,000 metric tonne garbage every day. A number of chemical factories and refineries are situated in the same ward, while it has also been used as the hotspot for the resettlement and rehabilitation of project affected people across Mumbai.

“We want to show that there are people live in the worst living conditions in the financial capital of this country from many years, without any attention,” said Mr. Parsuraman. The survey has exposed the deficiency of health and education services to the people of this ward. The people are also deprived of basic services such as sanitation, safe drinking water and transport.

“The issue of urban poverty has either always been sidelined or rejected. The survey and the project is also an effort to highlight the serious issue of urban poverty in our country. We have focused on ward mainly because it is the basic unit of administrative functioning in the city,” said Amita Bhide, professor at the TISS, who is associated with the ‘M ward initiative.’

As per the objectives of the project, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) and Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) will be brought down by 50% in the next five years. Universal Pre Natal care, Institutional delivery, post natal services and 100% immunisation will be achieved during the same period, through the people’s involvement. In education sector, the project is aiming at 100% enrolment in school and to reduce drop rate by 50% in next five years. “We are just the facilitators in the process and our work is to bring people, for whom various developmental schemes are planned, in direct discussion with the government bodies and planners. Only if their say is registered with the authorities, policies benefitting them will be drawn,” said Mr. Parsuraman.