Lessons to be learnt from Indore

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When it comes to municipal administration, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) would do well to borrow a leaf or two from Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh, which has been declared the cleanest city in India for three years in a row. Now, in another move that is worthy of emulation, the district administration and municipal employees of the city have decided to use public transport to reach their offices every Friday. District collector Lokesh Jatav and municipal commissioner Asheesh Singh set the ball rolling when they took a bus to their respective offices, winning praise from the citizenry. Besides encouraging use of public transport and decongesting roads, the objective is also to demolish the myth that only people who cannot afford cars travel by buses. Having led by example, the collector has now appealed to private organisations to encourage their employees to use public transport at least once a week, and given the fact that the people of Indore have been extremely supportive of the administration’s initiatives, there is no doubt that this project too will be a success.

The Karnataka government too should follow suit by directing its employees including senior officers in Bengaluru and other major cities to travel by public transport, once a week to start with and more regularly in due course. As a large number of people from a cross-section of the society use buses, trains and the metro, officers will be able to hear public grievances on the move. Hundreds of government vehicles remaining off the roads will also lead to huge savings in fuel costs. This will also hopefully have a cascading effect, with private-sector employees emulating bureaucrats until using public transport becomes a habit. However, if the initiative has to succeed, the government should first strengthen public transport by increasing the frequency of metro services, enhancing the efficiency of city buses, hastening the completion of suburban rail project and improving first and last-mile connectivity. 

There are other lessons too to be learnt from Indore which was in the news some time ago after the municipal commissioner cleared 13 lakh tonnes of waste from a dump yard in six months and reclaimed land worth Rs 400 crore. The BBMP also has some efficient officers but years of lethargy has made the entire system slack. If Indore could rise from the 149th position in cleanliness rating in 2014, to the No. 1 rank within three years, there is no reason why Bengaluru being the technology capital of the country cannot perform a similar feat. All that is needed is bureaucratic will and public backing.

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