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Goregaonkars kick-start their own citizens’ initiative

Tuesday, December 06, 2011
By A Special Correspondent

The otherwise sleepy middle class suburb of Goregaon (E) woke up out of its political slumber on Sunday evening to kick-start its own citizens’ initiative aptly christened ‘Goregaonkar Nagrik’. The non-political pressure group of eminent doctors, advocates, engineers and prominent citizens aims to seek a radical change by regularly questioning the elected corporators about what they have done to implement their suggested schemes and solve their daily problems.

Speaking to the ADC, Swanand Oak, Goregaonkar Nagrik Secretary, said, “We are an informal pressure group. We are not going to advise people or lend our support to any political party or candidate in the ensuing 2012 BMC elections. And, neither of our office-bearers will contest the civic elections. We will bring all the candidates contesting the civic polls on one platform, ask them to spell out their election manifestos, and let people ask them questions on why they want to contest elections – what is their agenda, what will they do if they win, etc.? We will videograph all the election meetings.”

Oak further added, “Our role will not end with the elections. After the elections, whosoever wins from any political party will be our candidate. We shall keep a track of what the corporator has done for the ward in the next five years. Actually, we wanted to launch Goregaonkar Nagrik before the 2009 Assembly elections, but could not do so due to the rains. Speaking before the gathering, Jayant Vidhavauns, in a lighter vein, informed that out of the 35 banners they had put up all across the suburb, 24 had already been stolen, which spoke about the impact the initiative has had.

Noted gynecologist, Dr. Nikhil Dattar stated that the tendency of the white-collared middle-class is that they will all love to have a Shivaji Maharaj, but in their neighbour’s home. He said that the middle-class should shrug off their laid-back attitude and instead take the lead in actively pursuing development works in their locality. Noted actor and television anchor Shailesh Datar too criticised the attitude of the middle-class for keeping a safe distance from the system and then expecting someone to solve their civic problems. He said that the youth voter should not just worry about their careers, but also take active part in resolving local civic issues.

Former scribe, Shubhada Chaukar, stressed that citizens should form their own priority list of demands, which should be placed before the corporator. She added that the group should act like a watchdog. Vidhavauns disclosed that a group of 10 people, each expert on a particular civic issue, will suggest their own alternate development plan to the corporator and the civic body.

Dr. Ashwin Samant drew attention to the poor state of infrastructure at the BMC-run hospital in Goregaon (W). Bhushan Jadhav from India Against Corruption (IAC) stressed upon the need to have a citizens’ charter at the ward level. Advocate Narayan Samant urged all political parties to use this platform to reach out to voters. He suggested that names of political party workers at the ward level should be made available to all the residents so that people can contact them at times to solve their civic problems. Vidhavauns disclosed that Goregaonkar Nagrik will publish a booklet of contact numbers of local ward corporators, ward officers and upload information on the website.

Participating in the open debate, a resident from Goregaon (W) wanted people to reject dynastic rule, arguing that a sitting corporator should not be allowed to field his wife in the fray just because his ward has become reserved for women. Avinash Sankhe wanted to know what happens to the crores of rupees that the BMC spends from its budget on garbage cleaning annually as the filth is still lying around. The mood of the gathering rubbed off on 19-year-old Netra Kher from Dudhsagar society, who enthusiastically declared that she was willing to be a Goregaonkar Nagrik volunteer in her ward.

Former local corporator Dilip Nilani drew attention to the fact that Goregaon (E) has no hawker zone. Moreover, despite his efforts, the plot reserved for a BMC market and a drama theatre was given to a private developer. He also pointed out that the vast population of Goregaon (E) does not have access to even a basic upgraded BMC dispensary. He called upon people to protect whatever open plots that are left in the suburb from going into the hands of private builders.

The citizen group aims at waking the middle-class from their long slumber by giving them a platform to raise their questions and queries in front of their elected representatives. It further emphsises that one need not be politically aligned to be politically active, but must keep a watch on thier surroundings.

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