Delhi's Resident Welfare Associations (RWA's) have a marked involvement with local governance, an example for the rest of the country's cities. Now, they have a new suggestion for the political parties fighting the upcoming elections. A green manifesto.
The continuing apathy of India’s political parties to the urgency of the climate challenge, or even local environmental issues, is no secret. A system that manages to weed out most able, professional and passionate people in favour of those seeking influence peddling, skimming off public funds and worse has made most cynical about change.
But in the capital New Delhi, which also doubles up as the state of Delhi, with its own strange rules of political power and engagement, the city’s RWA’s have significant clout and reach in local governance. Now, one of the key apex body of these RWA’s has come out with a call for a policial green manifesto. Led by URJA (United residents Joint action Delhi), a body backed by many RWA’s of Delhi, the proposed green manifesto is a very obvious, but much needed list of demands to tackle issues ranging from air pollution, to water supply, and public transport. Using inputs from a variety of domain experts in the capital, the ” Citizens Green Manifesto For a Smart and Sustainable Delhi’ has listed out 10 key demands with the solutions proposed. The demands include a 65 percent reduction in air pollution by 2025, 100 percent clean energy by 2050, a stop to wastage of water, and a public transport system that works for 80 percent of the city population. All issues we have also highlighted in the past.
All demands that are not only reasonable and in line with any large and global city’s ambitions, but also part of existing city planning. Except that panning rarely moves forward as planned, thanks to the dysfunctional relationship between the city’s many custodians, be it the municipal bodies, the central government itself, or the state government. Thus, demands like more transparency, taking proper feedback before implementing major policies all point to existing deficiencies than something new.
The Aam Aadmi Party government, led by Arvind Kejriwal, has demonstrated far more responsiveness to the city’s needs, especially on the issue of water, where it has made consumption upto 20,000 litres free for some time now. Mr Kejriwal has also promised a Yamuna clean enough to bathe in by the time the 2025 elections come around. The central government and agencies controlled through it, on the other hand, have done a shoddy job of explaining their actions and motives on issues that mattered, be it the felling of thousands of trees for redevelopment of government housing, or its continued failure to protect the same Yamuna river which enters the city to effectively die. The BJP controlled municipal bodies have cut an even more sorry figure, with their constant financial struggles and poor execution.
By repeatedly voting in the AAP government to power, the city’s relatively more affluent and educated citizens have also shown a marked preference for local performance, over national trends, where voters, especially in North India have plumped for the Narendra Modi led BJP governments at state level too. Delhi, if it repeats the trick again in the February elections, could do more to bring the agenda back to issues that matter than possibly anything else right now.