AIILSG, EU partner to make Nagpur Equitable

All India Institute of Local Self-Government is implementing Equi-City project in Nagpur to establish consistent channels of participatory municipal governance to facilitate equal access of municipal services to citizens across different strata, especially urban poor and marginalised groups. This project is one of the most influential projects in India today having its focus on equal delivery of municipal services in a city. The four-year long project is funded by the European Union
 
Equi-City Cell based in Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has intensified a range of ground activities to underpin concepts of quality framework for practitioners besides citizens. The project stretches beyond the conventional delivery of municipal services and ommunity participation. Through linking resources and developing respective capacities of local communities and municipal officials, Equi-City programme envisages doing away with the systemic barriers.
 
Project activities on ground are planned in a fashion to keep citizens well informed about the initiative alongside building mutual trust and collaborative environment through the interventions. This framework, furthermore, provides NMC officials the tools, and supports to identify and address issues besides building a diverse and inclusive workforce broadly representative of the citizens and communities they serve.
 
Moreover, Equi-City strives to enable the local body to progress towards equitable city and support its competitive edge by way of measuring efficacy time to time, department wise as well as collectively. The team has organised many sensitizing events throughout the year to scale up the aim of providing equitable municipal services to urban poor.
 
Promoting Diversity
 
The project aspires to promote diversity in local authorities by enabling participation by different communities or groups in the formation of social and economic policies in local governance systems.
 
Under the project, a Diversity & Equality Framework will be created to enable Nagpur Corporation to assess their human resources structure from an equality and diversity perspective. It will be an internal assessment tool to ensure diversity within the municipal corporation. The survey for preparing the framework has already been carried out.
 
The survey has focused on aspects of cultural, gender, caste, religion, economic status diversity within the local body. The questions were asked in a manner so as to establish a link with the desired level of equality within the corporation for their employees working across different hierarchical positions.
 
The framework will also recognize the needs, values and contribution that employees from diverse backgrounds can make to local government and thereby encourage their participation at all levels. It will seek to promote diversity in leadership and decision making roles, including elected representatives and senior staff.
 
The framework is expected to be non-discriminatory in nature providing equitable opportunities to each employee for merit based promotion, irrespective of community affiliations, and promote a community oriented approach.
 
It will also address equality concerns on job segregation and that of equal pay. Yearly organizational performance assessment of employees is expected to be based on the framework which will use the findings as a reference point for course correction. Based on the assessment, Diversity Committee will recommend remedial measures to strengthen diversity and equality in the NMC.
 
City Development Forum
 
Equi-City cell along with Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) constituted City Development Forum to improve dialogue between the citizens of Nagpur and city government, and enhance the quality and outreach of the municipal services rendered. Renowned Environmentalist Girish Gandhi was appointed as the convener. The core group of CDF has representation from different sectors concerning urban management. The members include Dr Girish Gandhi, Rajiv Thorat, Prof Neelima Deshmukh, Dr P Sivasawaroop, Sandeep Shirkhedkar, Aprup A Adwadkar, Kaustav Chatterjee, Leena Buddhe, Sudhir Fulzele, GS Saini, Sunil Sahastrabuddhe and Atul Zoting. A dedicated team from Nagpur Municipal Corporation has also been selected to regularly interact with the CDF for implementing groups’ suggestions for the benefit of locals.
 
The launch event was inaugurated by newly elected Mayor of Nagpur Nanda Jichkar. The mayor called for the involvement of youngsters in making the city beautiful. Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping and Member of Parliament from Nagpur, addressed the valedictory session and appreciated the concept of participatory governance model taken up by NMC under Equi-City project. Gadkari said, “Citizens’ feedback is very important to ensure that the future development roadmap of the Orange city matched the aspirations and needs of the populace.”
 
Gadkari asked officials in Municipal Corporation of Nagpur to involve locals as much as possible in the planning and implementation process of city development schemes. He suggested setting up a ‘think tank’ at NMC so that for next ten years roadmap can be brought-up and implemented accordingly.
 
Girish Gandhi, the convener of the forum, proposed that the CDF must select a particular area of the city for implementing their ideas or solutions. This will work as a pilot project and help us in convincing people that the groups like CDF can deliver fruitful results by collaborating with local governments. It will also help
us in scaling up the project easily in other areas. He stressed on preparing communication materials in local language for building better rapport and connection with people.
 
Deepraj Pardikar, Deputy Mayor, Shravan Hardikar, Municipal Commissioner, and, Sandeep Jadhav, Chairman of Standing Committee, were also present at the event. Guru underlined that citizens must take the lead and drive the change needed to ensure equitable distribution of services. He added that European Union had chosen Nagpur for rolling out programs of citizen’s initiative and based on feedback and success; it will be implemented across the country.

Highlights

»» Formation of participatory forums, where stakeholders and local authorities can engage in collaborative solutions and coordinated action for equitable delivery of municipal services
»» Building technical capacity of officials in local authorities to equip them to be leaders and be responsive to urgent priorities
»» Sensitizing local authority officials towards implementation of diversity and equality frameworks in organization managed by local authorities
»» Development of tools which could help monitor and evaluate municipal service delivery
»» Heightening awareness of officials, citizens and poor urban dwellers on various initiatives and issues to promote accountability and transparency in operations while providing incentives for action
»» Formation of participatory forums