Move to involve public in tackling civic issues

The Vellore Institute of Development Studies (VIDS) has requested the Mayor of Vellore Corporation to constitute a Citizens' Council comprising representatives of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious charitable trusts, civil society organisations, associations of traders and industrialists, banks, youth and women's groups, the Christian Medical College, VIT University and the Golden Temple for enhancing social participation in urban improvement programmes and improvement of civic amenities.

In a memorandum submitted to Mayor P. Karthiyayini, P. Jegadish Gandhi, director of VIDS, suggested that the Vellore Corporation can draw up a 5-year Sustainable Development Plan taking into account all societal needs based on current and future revenues and State government funds and projects. An Inclusive Civic Needs Plan for all the 60 wards may be prepared so as to implement public programmes on a priority basis. The identified common problems are drinking water scarcity, accumulating garbage, blocked drainage, mosquito menace, traffic congestion and slow road and drainage repair system. Instead of adopting piece-meal remedial measures, all major civic problems can be solved effectively by devising a common strategy of action, he said.

Dr. Gandhi requested the Mayor to install complaint boxes in different places, furnish email ID and contact telephone numbers to the public in order to receive grievance petitions from the public. She could then conduct monthly citizens' grievances day meetings to receive petitions from the public and render on-the-spot redressal of the grievances. Besides, the Mayor may divide the 60 wards into 10 operational units and hear grievances from the public directly. Proactive NGOs and students of schools and colleges can be enlisted to carry out regular awareness campaigns against health hazards, preventive public health practices, garbage collection and solid waste management.

In order to improve the civic facilities, the Corporation administration should focus on monitoring groundwater table, exploring new borewell water resources, digging of deep borewells, checking water supply lines and pipes in all public places and households, engaging daily garbage pickers on nominal wages to collect plastic bags and other wastes on roadsides and drainages, removing all kinds of encroachments on pavements, replacing or repairing bulbs/tubelights in the main roads and interior streets, and identifying approved parking facilities in congested areas.

Dr. Gandhi requested the Mayor to speed up the completion of the underground drainage scheme and the consequent reconstruction of roads in different parts of Vellore. He said that the damage caused to the road in front of the CMC Hospital in view of the ongoing work on renovation of the road damaged by the laying of underground drainage lines has been posing hardships to the public, especially the patients visiting the hospital. The solution lay in undertaking the work on a 24-hour basis so as to complete it in 15 days, he said.