A ten-member delegation comprising municipal councillors and activists from Bangladesh studied the projects launched by the Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) in a variety of sectors such as solid waste management, water recycling, cleanliness, street lighting, parking, sewage disposal and the city heritage conservation during its visit here over the weekend.

The Bangladeshi group visited a sewage treatment plant at Delawas and a solid waste disposal plant at Langadiwas on the outskirts of Jaipur and interacted with Mayor Jyoti Khandelwal, municipal officers, elected representatives and community leaders. Impressed by the “proactive work” in Pink City, the delegates said it could be replicated in their country also.

The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) facilitated the delegation's three-day visit to the city with the support of the City Managers Association of Rajasthan (CMAR).The group from the neighbouring country was especially apprised of the social accountability mechanisms, public grievance redress system, citizen help line, e-governance, double entry accounting system and disclosures under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Addressing the delegates at the JMC headquarters here, Ms. Khandelwal said the municipal body had applied for international recognition to its waste water recycling plant, which was also generating electricity. The JMC had taken up a lot of works under the public-private partnership mode, she pointed out.

When the Mayor asked about the procedure for their local tax collection, the Bangladeshi representatives said their Government bears the major share of expenditure and the municipal bodies have their own buildings, in which they run educational institutions and hospitals. There are 19 standing committees in Rajshahi town functioning to run the municipal corporation.

In the Indian context, Ms. Khandelwal said even though women's participation in governance had increased as a result of 50 per cent reservation provided to them in the urban local bodies, they had to prove themselves through extra efforts. “It is the people's support that gives us the [real] power, even though the opposition is in majority here in the JMC,” she said.

The Mayor said the municipal councillors work in difficult circumstances and are paid meagre allowances. However, they are always dedicated to the cause of people's welfare and have earned the “respect, admiration and love of common people”. She said the visits like this would help enhance cooperation between the two countries and benefit both of them.

Rajshahi City Corporation Deputy Mayor Soriful Islam said the municipal body had more than 2,000 employees and was making significant interventions in providing urban amenities to the people. The visit, made in the wake of fresh impetus to the Indo-Bangladesh ties, provided a platform for mutual learning and sharing among the participants.

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