SRINAGAR: Elections in which hardly anyone voted have brought to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) “elected” representatives, or “corporators”, who have, in the two months since they have been in office, only hampered and disrupted whatever work was taking place.
Staff and officials of the municipal corporation told Kashmir Reader that the main problem they were trying to tackle was the disposal of the cast amount of garbage that the city produces every day. The elected corporators, headed by the city’s mayor, were supposed to find a way to scientifically dispose of the waste. However, “nothing has changed, so far, in the SMC,” an official said. “We don’t see any way ahead. There has only been disruption.”
The SMC has already exhausted two landfill sites where garbage was taken and dumped. These two sites survived for only half the years they were supposed to last.
“The SMC has 574 garbage collection centres, 100 dumpers, 500 hand carts, and more than 3,00,000 coloured bins. There is a huge man force that collects the garbage. Corporators were supposed to manage this, to get the waste segregated at source, before it reaches the landfill site. The city produces more than 500 tonnes of waste per day. But this does not seem to be a priority,” the official rued.
Non-governmental organisations or NGOs selected by the municipality to manage solid waste on scientific lines have made no significant progress. For the past eight months, a total of eight NGOs have been able to cover only 30 percent of the targeted households. And there is no guarantee that the households reached would not revert to old habits of disposing waste.
Instead of attending to such important work, Mayor Junaid Mattu and his deputy, Sheikh Imran, have been busy in mudslinging and undermining each other. First Imran manufactured a controversy when he misbehaved with a doctor, then the Mayor came into the limelight when he was accused of sexual harassment and nepotism. Both have called multiple press conferences, not to talk about civic issues but to respond to each other’s allegations.
Meanwhile, SMC employees called off work after a corporator manhandled one of their colleagues.
Another official of SMC said that there needs to be an overhaul of many civic laws, because they don’t match up to present realities. He said the existing laws were enacted decades ago, when ground realities were very different. Junaid Mattu, on the day he took over as mayor, said the same in front of several reporters. Two months have passed since then, but not even a single law has been changed.
Mattu’s phone was off when Kashmir Reader tried to contact him.
Deputy Mayor Sheikh Imran said that much work had been done since he took over. He did not mention any.
“I will get back to you in 15 minutes,” he said before disconnecting the phone. He neither got back nor did he respond to subsequent calls made by this reporter.