To be efficient, SMC needs complete revamp: ex-commissioners

To be efficient, SMC needs complete revamp: ex-commissioners

SRINAGAR: Srinagar Municipal Corporation’s (SMC) Mayor Junaid Mattu and his Deputy Sheikh Imran’s claims of making the SMC incorruptible and efficient are difficult to attain until there is a complete revamp of the corporation. Kashmir Reader spoke to three former SMC commissioners, all of whom are serving in other government departments now, as well as current office bearers and some of its newly elected councillors. They said that the revamp has to happen at the policy-making level, and has to involve up-gradation of its workforce and a people-friendly management system in place.
Mattu and Imran, both of whom have been at loggerheads with each other, have been often claiming to remove the pervasive corruption at all levels in the corporation. An ex-commissioner who has served two terms in the SMC told Kashmir Reader, speaking on condition of anonymity, that the corruption occurs from ward-level to the commissioner office, in many forms. He said at the ward officer’s level, for example, a complaint of illegal construction goes unreported when the official buries the issue for a few thousand bucks.
“I had multiple times received complaints against officers involved in corruption. I had taken action too, but the corruption did not stop, instead work in SMC did, because the same employee went to his association and called for a strike,” said the former commissioner.
He said that the corruption quadruples when elected councillors become part of SMC’s decision making. At this level, he said, they take bribes from people for allowing illegal construction.
The former commissioner said that this problem will remain until the SMC’s workers and councillors become incorruptible. “Can the deputy mayor and mayor do this? No. Even the government cannot do it. Hence, the problem will remain,” he said.
Another former commissioner told Kashmir Reader that the SMC’s lower-rung office bearers are mostly inefficient and obtuse. “To engage with them is a double-edged sword for an officer,” he said.
He said that the staff’s inefficiency comes in the way of SMC’s work. He cited the example of Srinagar’s intractable solid waste management problem. Despite several plans, the problem persists. Srinagar has 575 garbage collection centres, 100 dumpers, 500 hand carts, and more than 30,000 coloured bins. In the past nine years, two landfill sites have been consumed, filling up with only half the waste they were supposed to accommodate. So, solid waste segregation at source was proposed, but could not become successful, partly due to inefficiency of some SMC employees, the ex-commissioner said.
“It does not matter who is at the top. The problem will remain until there is efficient staff to handle it,” he said.