Populist Projects Vs Sustainability Planning in Cities
Having gone through the rigors of campaigning myself this February 2012, my campaigning script and promises for better urban policy, better and transparent governance and thinking if we citizens really need projects, plans or better urban management often fell on deaf ears. So big deal! You are just merely promising us 'good governance' when we need water supply and clean roads, was the expression I got more often than not.
I realised then and there itself that urban citizens, even the richest, highly educated and highly paid mortal citizens are being deliberately promised things or in this case 'projects' that keep repeating themselves every five years. Even a city of Pune and its citizens are unable to move beyond the expectations of regular water supply, good roads and clean surrounds! Aren't we all being deliberately kept wanting the basics of 'roti, kapda and makan' when we should be moving, albeit slowly, towards good urban quality, which is moving beyond the basics and wanting more from our daily urban existence.
One primary reason for all of us in cities today being 'stuck' at the same level is the approach of politics (and politicians and political parties) in putting forth 'Populist Projects' rather than 'Sustainability Planning'. Free homes are promised without a comprehensive housing policy, good roads are promised without development of a road development strategy, bus routes are promised without integrated public transport policy and 24x7 water supply is promised without a long term water supply plan for a growing city!
When will we be able to shift the focus on Planning rather than Projects? When will we as a total mass of urban citizenry graduate to understanding that focus on better urban governance will far outreach the short term benefits of a good road. Unless, we pull up our socks to bring in this new era of 'long term politics', we are all fighting for a losing battle in aspiring for good quality urban services. A good road will turn bad and then every five years we will have political aspirants once again promising us the 'good road'!