Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Mirror Named City!

In fact, a city is nothing more than a solution to a problem that in turn creates more problems that need more solutions…Neal Shusterman.

Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. And looking at the scene all around the city we call Pune, I am sure we are living by quote of this young writer! Somewhere I have read that to know a city you need to walk along the streets of the city & feel them in & around you! Well, I am part of Pune for more than 28 years now & yet I take on walking to know it better. While we walk we see so many things happening around at a close range which otherwise we miss while driving our vehicle safe from the outside pollution, heat & traffic noise; tucked in car with glasses rolled up & air conditioning on with our favorite music playing & eyes on mobile phone! We really miss lots of fun around, rather pain is proper word. And if its two wheeler then all your attention is on saving your bike from PMT busses & auto rickshaws & speeding vehicles as well the pot holes on the roads & speed breakers which in actual are vehicle breakers & then you never have time to see around.

It’s at walk you are actually exposing the scenes around & think about them though that doesn’t mean you are safe even you are on footpath! On such walk I saw a signage board fallen down & laying on foot path, the board was in good condition with names of nearby destination on it & PMC logo displayed along. I was seeing that board nearly four days as it was near my residence & on every day walks I used to came across the same. It’s this board which made me to remind the quote of Neal Shuterman, as who is responsible for this. Falling of board is accepted as it can be an accident but then laying it like a neglected object with City Civic Body’s logo on it, isn’t it a shame to all of us?

In our daily life so many such scenes we see around for e.g. a stray dog getting killed by some speeding vehicle on road & the body remains there for a day long with every passer by just somehow avoids it & go away; but no one comes to drag the dead body of the dog which kept rotting there for days. Then there is sign board by PMC on a bridge across our river for appealing citizen not to throw garbage or “nirmalya” is left over from pooja at home, in the river & we see under the very same board garbage laying as well people throwing “nirmalya” in the river! We see electrical DB’s i.e. distribution boxes of MSEB occupying space on foot path & with stickers of all sorts of advertisement on it. Then the newly paved roads getting dug for N numbers of reason & for the days after that the patchwork not being done giving every vehicle bump while passing over it & even causing accidents also; nobody cares to make the road as it was earlier. Thousands of vehicles bumping while crossing the dug part of the road & cursing civic body with each bump & we still just keep looking at the poor vehicle riders. The flex war going all around the city with every “tom, dick & harry” having his snap on the cutout with so called karyakartas blessing him for whatever great achievement he has made by becoming some party’s ward level chief!

We all know the condition of public toilets & lavatories, even the beggars’ who lives on foot paths won’t like to use it, and such is their condition. The taps are missing, they stinks so much that even one has to walk by keeping distance from them while crossing any such structure, leave apart using them! Worst came when I was walking right from the city’s most busy main road i.e. Jangali Maharaj road, which is supposed to be pride of Pune with all major outlets & offices on it as well our civic body i.e. PMC head quarter is at stone throw distance; here at Sambhaji gardens entrance there is a citizen interaction center. Now don’t ask what its mean or being installed for, still for those who are interested as this column is for aware citizens, interaction center is a concept copied from cities like Singapore, and where in this center the citizen as well tourist visiting the very city will get all the information about city & services it offers to the citizens. But like all so called initiatives it started but never took off! The present scene is the citizen information center is locked & in dilapidated state with beggars & hawkers blocking its view as well entrance.  The sign board of PMC is still on it making the city to more shame & what more in this very Shambhaji garden city’s garden chief seats who also is supposed to be in charge for the city beautification! So many officers must be passing from this site but nobody bothers even to remove that structure which is in actual disgrace to the city civic body.

Every day while moving on streets of this very city we all came across all such scenes & what we do rather does we ever notice them? Most of us took these scenes as part of our life like the cup of morning tea we have in our home. All they will ask what big deal is & what they have to do with it! Well, imagine a road with clean foot paths & proper signage’s & trees blossoming all along the roads with no dug out patches or bumps. Imagine no garbage has been dumped any where & a clean & clear water in the river which flows through right from the heart of the city! Visualize the chowks with no faces looking at you from the hundreds of flexes or cutouts barring your vision of skyline. Imagine a citizen interaction center in well maintained condition with a smiling attendant in it & displaying all the information about the city. Think MSEB’s feeder pillar boxes well painted & in duly protected condition. Have ever thought of clean & fresh smelling public lavatories along the street?

Well all seems like a dream scene, isn’t it? Speaking about facts, it’s not a dream but right of every citizen as we pay taxes but we think that’s all our responsibility ends there! Agreed its civic body & various departments of Govt which should be doing these jobs but then if they are not doing it or have any limitation why we can’t reach out & try to take some load is my question? Do we wait for someone to come & maintain our home or colony we are leaving in, when the house maids don’t turn up?  I don’t say go ahead & do the job of sweeper but at-least raise your voice on every platform & reach out to the authorities instead of turning blind eye on them when you see such scenes as well get united & think of solutions as what can be done for the scenes which are around your residence or work place.

This city has hundreds of corporate & business houses & there are many organizations of professional, why can’t they adopt the public toilets & citizen interaction center like structures? Though the above scenes are a common sight in any of budding city in our country as unfortunately aesthetics was never our strong aspect in town planning, especially when it comes to public places! But it’s high time as these issues are no more just aesthetics trouble but they create nascence on hygiene as well giving much needed service to the citizen as well visitors of the city also. Ask any lady on street about her needs regarding ladies public toilets & she will come down heavily with her anger on this front for the city & infrastructure. As I always say any city is good or bad, not by the sky scrapers or malls or hotels but the way it offers service to its residents! Especially the real estate developer’s associations should think on these lines as the city is in demand for real estate because people around feels it’s a livable city in comparison to other cities. If we want this city to flourish then while focusing inside of our projects we must not forget what’s going on outside of four walls of the very projects too. As remember however beautiful complex we build but it’s equally important what the residents are having view from the inside!

Take example of the Tajmahal, it looks beautiful because it’s been set on the banks of river Yamuna; imagine Tajmahal right in the heart of slum like Dharavi & then see how many people visits it! Ultimately city public places are mirrors of the society, they shows what we are as a citizen collectively! So before the whole city turns up in a big slum, rise up of else these scenes will block even our dreams & then we will be never able to rise from that darkness!!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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