TogetherVCAN’s SOCIAL SANCHAR with SHRI S. V. R. Srinivas

April 23, 2015 @ 6:00 am – 8:00 am

On 23rd April 2015, we held our Social Sanchar with Mr. S V R. Srinivas, Additional Municipal Commissioner, Mumbai, as our Guest Speaker.

MCGM plays a most crucial and consistent role in our lives, right from the day we are born till we die – from birth certificate to death certificate!

In his introduction, Mr Srinivas stated that Mumbai being a densely populated and a complex city, it is difficult to manage all the challenges that arise and such problems can rarely be seen in areas outside Mumbai.

Many civic issues were highlighted, such as the hawker issue, road safety, parking on roadsand the recent topical issue – the Development Plan (DP).

While discussing the issue of road safety, Mr Srinivas pointed out that the roads in Mumbai besides being carriageways for vehicles, are alsoused by hawkers to earn a livelihood. Further, slums are built up on road sides making it a residential area and to add to that, also a parking area at night for many people.

Therefore any road repair work that needs to be carried out gets slowed down. He assured Citizens, that efforts would be made to resolve such problems in the shortest time.

Mr. Srinivas highlighted the fact that, in an urban area communication plays a great role in the daily lives of the Citizens and how the rise of social media has made communication so much easier.  He shared that the MCGM has developed in-house, without using a single rupee from the tax payers’ money, an app called “MCGM 24×7”,which will help the Citizens greatly. This app will enable the Citizens to pay bills online and renew licenses. The app is available in the app store in all iphones and android phones. It is free and can be easily downloaded – it is just 7 mb.

In a spirit of cooperation, he urged Citizens to come forward and give their opinions and comments on the functioning of the MCGM. Mr Srinivas assured Citizenstheir comments would be given the highest importance and the dialoguethus commenced, would be taken forward.

Mr Srinivas was very enthusiastic in responding to an overwhelming number of questions put up by Citizens online as well as by the in house audience. Only some are given below:

Q. First of all thanks to VCAN for this opportunity to talk to you. I amSripadNarvekar, representing the Airawat Group of Companies and we are interested in initiatives on road safety. We have done lot of projects on road safety. We have given training to corporates and other companies. We had approached the MCGM transport section at Santacruz and tried our utmost that MCGM drivers should be trained which would improve their driving skills. But we have not got any response. We have even contacted Central Institute at Borivall that this matter be taken up strongly. We have also approached the Assistant Commissioner Ms. Kapse in K-Ward.  At our Airawat Institute we wanted to give some discount to the families of MCGM staff’s children too. We have given a proposal to Ms. Kapse but have not received any response from her. In our Institute we give airport management and cargo management training. They can get jobs as well. We have explained everything to Madam Kapse. She was supposed to circulate our proposals to all the MCGM offices. I have all the letters. I will hand them over to you for pursuing the matter.

Ans. There are two responses to your question. First is a specific response. I will take your proposal and take necessary action. You will get a reply in about 3-4 days.

Second,through VCAN Social Sanchar, I request that instead of going at the Ward level with such general issues, visit the new department in the MCGM which we started about six months ago. It is called theDepartment of Business Development.

Mumbai is a Global Commercial City, and we have to develop business in the City. The MCGM is always in a fire fighting mode,taking care of drains, potholes, water supply and all that. But what about the big picture of making Mumbai globally competitive? That is the big picture missing.

We discussed this with the Municipal Commissioner and he immediately agreed with the proposal. Then I went to the Corporation with a Resolution. Now we have posted persons, laterally recruited in the Mumbai Corporation, who are going to do Business Development. As part of this Initiative we are putting down a Corporate Social Responsibility Cell which will welcome your suggestions.Through your mediai.e. VCAN, I would request those of you who are interested, we welcome you and we will be taking your suggestions seriously.

As far as road safety is concerned, there was a Global Initiative from Bloomberg and they conducted a Global Competition to select cities to work on road safety. I had also written to them on what is our Vision of road safety in Mumbai. They have selected ten cities globally and luckily along with Shanghai, Mumbai is also selected. Hon’ble Chief Minister has signed the MoU with Mr. Bloomberg on behalf of MCGM. Today their team from Canada came to Mumbai.  Last year also we had a kick start workshop. So, in the next 4-5 years you will see a lot of road safety initiativesinvolving three spectrums; one is driving, second is road design aspect and third is general awareness about roads. I will be really happy if you can participate and lend your support.

Q.Multiple complaints of unauthorised construction have been emailed to Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Kunte and on his cell number but got no reply and no action taken.Errol Sequeira, AGNI.

Ans. We do get complaints andwe do reply. Sometimes they remain unreplied, though eventually it gets replied. Through this question I would like to answer a larger issue which most of you present here may not be aware of. Basically what is happening,with RTI in place many apply for information on payment of charges, and about 60%-70% cases do get their work done, and another 30%-40% cases are nuisance cases.

So, we have come up with a solution. It is a very interesting IT based solution which will make RTI redundant. I am coming up with a DMS or Document Management System. All documents of MCGM will be scanned and digitized and they will be tagged. Key words will be given and I am going to host them on the cloud. So any citizen sitting even in Norway will be able be download the information. If it is a certificate we will charge him as per the present rules. However,if it is an item of information, he will definitely get it promptly and free of charge. I know it is a different question, but it is a very important development coming to Mumbai. It will take about three years to complete this project. So, all documentswill be digitized and every citizen will be able to get the documents.

As far as SMSs are concerned, there are so many SMSs every day. The number is large and we will definitely try to respond to them as best as we can.

Q.I am M. Srinivasa Rao, when will MCGM release the pavements occupied by shops and eateries in Thakur village to the intended use of pedestrians?

Ans. I have been in urban planning for a decade and a half. I realise that pedestrians get short shrifted. Let me start with Mahapalika Marg. When I joined I found that there is a beautiful footpath starting from CST (VT) station right up to Metro Cinema along the St Xavier’s College. I found about fifty vehicles were parked on it. It has a foot fall of 5-6 lakhs every day. People going to Fort, Nariman Point walk on it. To make it pedestrian friendly, we put bollards and kept away all the vehicles. Now, it’s a walkers’ paradise!

Our own vehicles used to be parked there earlier. In fact one of the senior persons called me and said “why did you do this? What about my vehicle?”I told them footpath is meant for foot print, not for vehicles.

Definitely we will take care of your area and ensure that these footpaths are also taken care of.

In this context let me also say, as a part of “Pedestrian First Policy”, we have come out with something different. I identified which are the maximum foot fall areas. Typically in Mumbai maximum footfalls are near the suburban railway stations, that is where lakhs of people come every day. At Dadar station there are about 8 lakh people every day. The guy in Mumbai comes on one foot in the suburban train and when he gets down he has to walk on one foot also!!So, we identified those areas which are on our top priority. About 8 stationshave been identified for this year and up to about half a km on either side, we are also going to design it for the physically challenged. As I said, as a part of “Pedestrian First Policy”, the Churchgate experiment has started. Soon we will be taking up all other stations and you will be able to see the difference in the next 5-6 months’ time.

Q.Sir I am Nicolas Fernandes, President of Social and Political wing in my ward in my area. I got very serious problem. Only you can help us. I am staying in rented buildings that are 70-80 years old. In our buildings the public sewerage and drainage are inside the building area.  It is in C Ward, DadiSantuk Lane. When the MCGM staff comes to clean the streets, they don’t come inside. With the result the drainage, which is open remains uncleansed. Last year there were people suffering from malaria and typhoid. If we want to tell them to clean it then we have to bribe them. We are paying the tax, we are paying rent, paying education tax, sales tax. We are paying all the taxes. Now we are on the eve of monsoon. What shall we do sir?

Ans. It is a very fundamental issue. I will talk to the Ward Officer. However there is only one difficulty. Ours is a public staff. Doing work in a private premises becomes a little difficult. However, I will get your problem sorted out.

This is about general grievance. MCGM is coming out with a new initiative. Nowadays we have the mobile solution.  Mobile apps have become very important, andMCGM has come out with a mobile app. I don’t know how many of you are aware. It is called ‘MCGM 24/7’.

Through this app, you can pay your water bills, property taxes and renew licenses. Instead of going to the Wards and standing in queues, you can easily pay through the app. You will also get a receipt in one second. It is a signed copy and in printable format

You can download the app from the Google play store. It is available in English and also in Marathi.. It is available on credit card, debit card and net banking as well.  

As far as responding to complaints, it will start in a couple of months. You will also be able to track complaints through this app. We are trying to come up with more mobile solutions. It also helps as it reduces travel and the traffic on roads!

Q.I had sent two letters to you in January and March regarding D.C.R violation and excess FSI utilized by the developers, with reference to MotiBaug plot no 519 F/N ward, RP Masani Road, Matunga (E), undergoing redevelopment. Till now no reply has been received nor has any official visit occurred. Why?

Ans. This is about the FSI construction violation. The point has been noted and we will definitely take action. You will get a reply in 24 hours. Our effort has been to decentralise the system. The building permission department was a highly closed system, but now we have decentralised it to Ward level,so now, people can easily come and lodge their complaints. We have put designated officers in each Ward who will take care of this. I will ensure that the reply goes to you in the next 24 hours.

The event was concluded by our Trustees Mrs. Indrani Malkani and Mr V Ranganathan. Mr Ranganathan termed the event as a very fruitful interaction, as it helped the Citizens to interact with those who manage the City. Mrs. Malkani stressed upon the need for Citizens participation and also pledged to work on the issue of road safety through the V Citizens Action Network (VCAN) portal

To view the photos of the TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar,  click here.

To view the video of the TogetherVCAN’s Social Sanchar, click here.