Interview

‘Informed and Involved Citizens’ Participation in Governance key to Realising Smart City Gurugram Dream’

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Dr Narhari Banger, Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of GurugramFrom being an economic wasteland to becoming a millennium city, Gurugram has evolved to be a city globally reckoned with development. As the city embraces the next wave of growth, it has host of impactful stories and initiatives to tell, says Dr Narhari Banger, Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Gurugram, in conversation with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN).

What initiatives have you undertaken to develop Gurugram as a Smart City?
We are embracing change and working at multiple levels as Gurugram enters the next wave of growth. There are many initiatives which are aligned with ‘Smart City’ encompassing waste management, inclusiveness, reducing road congestion and resource depletion, creating healthy localities, developing open spaces, making governance citizen-friendly and cost-effective and promoting public transport solutions amongst others.

To highlight few initiatives, on the solid waste management front, we are working on ‘Integrated Solid Waste Management’ project with Eco Green Energy Pvt. Ltd. as the partner for end to end solution implementation. The project aims to roll out a modern and effective way of managing solid waste right from door-todoor collection, segregation of waste, waste transportation, processing and energy generation. The project will address the municipal solid waste of over 1,600 tons per day; from both Gurugram and Faridabad and uses modern equipments and technologies at all levels.

Gurugram with its unprecedented population growth has led to increased power requirements for the city. As an effort in this direction, we are aiming to replace over 55,128 conventional street lights with energy efficient LED lights. MCG has signed an MoU with Energy Efficiency Services Ltd (EESL) for rolling out this initiative which will result in effective energy savings per year of over 4.5 MW or 19.71 MU.

We are working on various other initiatives like setting up of cultural complex and also a command and control centre which will provide integrated view of city use cases including CCTV surveillance, smart LED street lights, parking areas, waste, safety, security, traffic etc.

We have overhauled our service delivery model with e-Governance.

Please tell us more about the e-Governance initiatives rolled out by MCG.
With our concentrated efforts towards embracing Digital India, host of e-Governance initiatives were introduced, allowing citizens to access various citizen-centric services through online mediums. Today online services are being offered for building plans approval, marriage registration, birth and death registration, community centre booking, Hoarding / advertisement space booking, property ownership transfer, to pay property tax, etc. Digital is emerging as the preferred mode with citizens, as that saves both time and money. Over 2,42,017 property owners paid their property tax last year out of which more than 50 percent chose to pay their taxes through online mediums. We are shifting official business services and transactions to digital mediums and are emerging as a paperless, cashless and faceless agency for our citizens.

“Municipal Corporation of Gurugram involves its citizens in local project planning and execution. It is one of the most active local governing bodies in bringing RWAs, NGOs and corporates to the table in critical decision-making.”

Please elaborate on citizen involvement in the civic initiatives, projects and governance.
The success of all government projects depends on the degree of citizens’ participation. If citizens are involved in any project, its success is ensured automatically.

There are many examples of citizen engagement making a positive impact on government initiatives; most notable being the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. By exhorting people to join forces with the government, the campaign has successfully created a nationwide movement towards a cleaner, better India.

Municipal Corporation of Gurugram has also been involving its citizens in local project planning and execution. It is one of the most active local governing bodies in bringing RWAs, NGOs and corporates to the table in critical decision-making and managing the city’s civic amenities. MCG has been collaborating with the people of Gurugram on multiple offline and online forums. As expected, citizens are showing a greater level of interest in joining hands with the government.

Smart governance involves the creation and mobilisation of communities which can contribute significantly towards its own welfare and upliftment. In this regard, MCG is catering to the interests of residents of specific urban localities

within Gurugram by giving them the power to make a change. This has been done by funding local RWAs to take up the job of managing public amenities that belong to a certain area. Over 400 parks and about 50 community centres in Gurugram are managed by the local RWAs. Numerous inner roads and lanes throughout the city are also managed by the local RWAs and NGOs. This has emerged as a win-win proposition for both MCG and its citizens, who are now empowered to take ownership of the maintenance of an amenity that they use on a daily basis.

Today, technology has brought citizens closer to the city administration, enabling better planning and decision making. We are receiving complaints and feedback essentially through online mediums, which are continuously monitored and resolved at MCG level. Citizens are using Facebook, Twitter, MCG website, WhatsApp, email and Toll-Free number as mediums to flag off complaints or pendency of works including sanitation, roads, electricity etc.

Smart Governance with citizen engagement is clearly strengthening the roots of democracy.

Tell us something unique about Gurugram and Haryana.
Gurugram is progressing by leaps and bounds but it also has deep-rooted and rich religious legacy. As per the Puranas, two of the Chiranjivis or, the immortal living beings; Ashwatthama and Kripacharya have their connect with Gurugram. The city is also known for the Eklavya Tirth and the name ‘Gurugram’ has its roots from Guru Dronacharya’s ashram. We are proud of the rich religious legacy of Gurugram.

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