Citizen participation key to success of GMDA’s liveability index
Recently the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) shared a proposal on creating a liveability index for the city and has identified 10 parameters for the index, including mobility, safety and emergency services, water supply and sewerage, waste management and environment.
Updated: Nov 15, 2018 13:19:29
In April this year, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs published an Ease of Living Index in Indian cities. Gurugram ranked 88 out of 111 cities included in the survey. We were also ranked the lowest among the cities in the National Capital Region (NCR). The factors that were taken into account for the index included the four pillars— institutional, economic, physical and social.
Gurugram performed very low on indicators around health, public transport, but surprisingly performed better on the air pollution front. This is indeed surprising as the city experienced very poor air in the past months, especially after Diwali.
More recently, the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) shared a proposal on creating a liveability index for the city and has identified 10 parameters for the index, including mobility, safety and emergency services, water supply and sewerage, waste management, environment, affordable health, education and skills development, affordable housing, power and government responsiveness. The draft proposal is in the public domain and a citizens’ interaction was held to get inputs.
Building adequate indicators for each of the parameters of the index will be crucial as well as the methodology for measuring them. For example, while creating indicators for improving the environment, there will have to be targets for air pollution as well as green spaces and level of emissions in the city. Similarly, for safety, we will need to look at the safety of several sets of people, including women, children, elderly and the differently abled, among others. Also, safety needs to be seen in terms of road safety, safety from crime as well as provision of emergency services. The indicators will need to be measurable through different data sets. It could be through a survey, through available data as well as some data mining. Unless the indicators are robust, the index will not make a difference.
The preparation of the index must be an open exercise and not something that is not done without participation of the city residents, who have a right to give their perspective. After all, it is the residents who know best the travails of living in Gurugram. A diversity of voices needs to be heard to build a sensitive and comprehensive index. Thus, we need to hear not only the adults and children, but also the elderly, people from different economic cross-sections of the society, people with disability and others.
Equally important is the monitoring of index parameters. There has to be a transparent and robust system to monitor the indicators that are decided upon. It may be possible that some prioritization is done to see where resources need to be placed first. It is crucial to recognise that the problems of a city can have several causes. Air pollution is clearly a problem which Gurugram cannot solve completely in its own. All the elements and nuances need to be understood clearly so that expectations are based on reality.
Finally, there is no doubt that while there is a lot to do to make Gurugram a better and more liveable city, it has a very committed citizenry who have been willing to engage with the problems of the city. We have seen this in the recent mobilisation against the proposed road through the Aravalli Biodiversity Park, where citizens groups, NGOs, schools, corporates and individuals raised their voices to preserve the city’s lungs.
Citizen participation and commitment can make the difference between the index being an exercise on paper to one that truly transforms our city.
(Co-founder and CEO of Safetipin, the author works on issues of women’s safety and rights in the city)
First Published: Nov 15, 2018 13:19:29