Municipal Woes

Municipal Woes
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It may be safe to posit that a city is as good as its municipality. If this assertion holds then it does not connote a flattering description or comment on the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and thereby Srinagar city. It may be the Municipality’s waste management functions that can be singled out for criticism. Waste management, it may be pointed out, has over time, acquired scientific overtones; in developed countries, waste disposal and management is taken recourse to employing scientific techniques and measures. These techniques are employed at every node of the waste management chain, right from the collection point(s) to disposal and then use of the disposed waste. In Kashmir, however, while schemes are devised and conceptualized by the SMC, but these actually falter on the ground. The issue appears to be one of management and of technique. The SMC is a behemoth plagued; it would appear, by management issues. This problem then affects its operations, planning and technique. Can, the question is, these problems be obviated or even ameliorated? The answer is yes. But, it would call for a rejigg of the SMC. The implication here is that the SMC’s functions must be or can be parceled out. A caveat is in order here. While the core function of the SMC must remain with the administration, some of its operational functions can be contracted out to experienced private players. This would besides creating clarity in the said organization impart it with more focus and thereby lead to a leaner and a tight structure. The SMC then would not have to overstretch itself (which, among other things, makes it stick its fingers in many pies, so to speak). Now, in terms of the details of the potential rejigg of the SMC, overall control must lie with the SMC, and other functions contracted out, but what must be ensured is accountability of the parceled out functions. Accountability, whose concomitant must be transparency must, in this schema, flow both downward and upward. Once a neat structure is in place and there is conceptual clarity in terms of the nature and functions of the various components of the SMC, it will axiomatically get reflected on the ground, so to speak. The effects will be felt across Srinagar city which will not only have a new aesthetic feel but the urban and functional components and aspects of the city will be positively affected. If, however, the SMC carries on with “work as usual”, then both the aesthetical and functional aspects of the city can only regress further.

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