When civic bodies fail, citizens step up!

Note – This is a developing story. Updates (with pictures) will be added every 1-2 days.

This is a story you’ve heard before – a common citizen struggling to get basic work done by the government/civic bodies. The hope is that it will have an happy ending. Like the note above says, this is still developing however it is time that everyone reads about it.

Let me clarify first up – this is a first person account and I have been involved in every stage of this story.

The Early Days

The area I live in Kothrud, Pune was once surrounded by guava orchards and not many people lived here. There was a boom post 2000 and the guava orchards gave way to high rises and a large human population.

PMPML buses used to ply to this area for many years however there were no bus stops installed. In 2004-5 (I think), the local corporator finally decided to take it upon himself to install bus stops in the area. He did so, but without any practical planning. He installed these bus stops at spots where the buses didn’t stop (what an irony!). Obviously, the people continued to use the buses from their usual spot, ignoring the new bus stop.

This particular bus stop was right outside by house.

location
Installed Bus Stop Location vs Actual Boarding Point

As Time Went By…

The bus stop had a nice paint job, a good roof to protect you from the elements and nice metal seating to rest while waiting for your bus. How unfortunate that no passengers were using it. What do you think happened then?

Year 1 – the chairs were moved to the road, next to the auto stand. At least the auto drivers could rest

Year 2-3 – it was a great smoking spot during rains or extreme heat. Also, some loud conversations in the night

Year 4-6 – the tiles broke. Chai + Sutta were the primary residents under the roof

Year 7-10 – graffiti appeared on the stop with expletives. Oh well, and turns out it was the perfect place to celebrate birthdays at midnight and just leave the trash right there

Year 11 – till date – space behind the bus stop converted into a garbage dump. Beer joined chai + sutta. After beer, just walk to the side of the bus stop for susu. This has really become into a public (nuisance) space!

IMG_20170815_133650
Toilet – ek aam katha

Here comes the common man

I had arguments with many people over not smoking, drinking or peeing near the bus stop. It only resulted in me losing my cool. By early 2017, Digital India had taken off and one could raise complaints with PMPML on their website. I did so in April 2017 however the complaint was resolved within a few days with the following explanation – ‘the bus stop was installed by the local corporator so PMPML has no jurisdiction over it. PMPML will not take any action on it’.

Screenshot_20170815-163944
PMPML resolved the complaint

My next option was to reach out to PMC as the local corporator from 2004-5 was no longer the elected representative. Do note that the current elected representative is not active on social media so I did not reach out to him.

My first complaint with PMC was closed and I was asked to contact PMPML again. Since I had already taken that route, I followed up by talking to a few people in the local ward office but got no help. Then, in July 2017, I tweeted at PMC stating the problem and a photograph.

Several replies and reminders were sent however PMC refused to respond to any of my tweets (till date).

Give up? Or is there still hope?

I almost gave up. It bothered me every day. It bothered me that I was so helpless. I could not possibly stand there all day long to ask people not to pee or drink or smoke or trash that place.

Should I meet the ward officer? Should I meet the local corporator? Would they help or just aggravate me further?

On Aug 15th,  I couldn’t believe myself when I overheard my dad talking to 3 girls something about the bus stop. I walked over to the bus stop to speak to the girls and what they said was music to my ears. They were architecture students and were working on a project to convert an abandoned public space into a usable public space. They had chosen this bus stop. Yesssssss!

IMG_20170815_134729
The real heros!

The plan

Plan is simple. The girls (they are a team of 20) will work out the design. I will help them with whatever they need to make it successful. Here’s what they’ve planned –

  • Clean up the bus stop
  • An ex-corporator will help remove the garbage stacked behind the bus stop
  • Repaint the back panels or replace them
  • Re-tile the floor
  • Build a vertical garden behind and on the sides of the bus stop
  • Put up lights on both sides
  • Add some kind of utility for residents to use the space effectively (suggestions welcome here)

Plan will be executed in the next 10 days. The girls have funding so they’re pretty much covered. Update: The girls had limited funding and needed more funds to implement their design. I was able to reach out to a few Punekars and 2 pledged to contribute a total of ₹10,000 to the cause! 🙂

This blog post will be updated with daily photographs and updates. If you have any suggestions or comments, you can mention them here or contact me on http://www.twitter.com/thedarkrebel.

Day 0

 

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Day 2

 

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Day 4

 

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Day 6

 

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Come back tomorrow for the final photographs!

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