Dear NGO Council Member,
The BMC Disaster Management Cell has asked us to furnish contact details
of the NGO Council Members to put into a publication they intend printing,
so that you can be contacted quickly by different agencies in the event of
a disaster. So please email the information as per the attached format. Do
write a little about the services you can provide during a disaster, or
the ways in which you can get involved prior, during, and after a
I would like to also take the opportunity to update you on the various
developments since the formation of the NGO Council on August 22, 2005, in
the aftermath of the flooding in Mumbai. Most of this information is also
in the NGO Council link in www.karmayog.org
.(The direct link is www.karmayog.com/ngocouncil/ngocouncil.htm
An MOU was signed between the NGO Council and BMC on December 12, 2005.
This was historic because it was the first ever. It recognises the
important role that civil society plays and enables the involvement of
civil society organisations with BMC in policy formulation, implementation
procedures, monitoring and feedback on all civic issues. The MOU was
mentioned by the Municipal Commissioner in his Budget Speech 2006.
In developing policy recommendations, the idea has been to get as
broadbased inputs from all stakeholders and individuals and organisations
with experience and expertise on the subject as is possible over a
reasonable period of time via meetings, emails, eGroup discussions, and
website. This method of creating a 'collective vision' is showing results,
and bringing great value, thus clearly positioning the NGO Council in
comparison to other groups or committees. The large base of NGOs and
participants in Karmayog has been instrumental in being able to get all
relevant inputs on an issue.
Accordingly, the first area of involvement that was identified was Solid
Waste as that was felt to be the major cause of the extensive flooding.
Nearly a 100 organisations were involved over 4 months to firstly develop
an overall policy document which was agreed to and minuted by BMC.
Thereafter, recommendations from this policy was incorporated into the
Construction and Debris Rules, and the BMC Solid Waste Rules 2006 which
came into effect from 1st March 06. It is worthwhile to note that even
though Municipal Solid Waste guidelines were laid down by the Supreme
Court in 2000, no overall
policy had been framed for Mumbai, even though five years had elapsed. So
what has been achieved is no mean feat. The Rules are very different from
the usual rules promulgated by BMC or government authorities. These
include several stated obligatory responsibilities of BMC, annual targets,
involvement of Civil Society, and of the NGO Council. Subsequently, a
Monitoring Committee has been set up under the Mayor which will meet
monthly to review the waste situation. This committee includes three
members of the NGO Council. If you are interested in being on the
Committee, please email.
During the process of formulating the Solid Waste Rules, it became very
apparent that Mumbai can not become or remain clean without the active
involvement of citizens. Accordingly, meetings were held with ALMs and
other NGOs. This led to the Charter of the BMC - Local Area Citizen Group
Partnership 2006 w.e.f. 1st April 2006. I do believe that this could well
be the paradigm for citizen - civic partnership for all Indian cities.
One highlight of the LACG Charter is the formation of the Apex LACG
Committee which would consist of the Municipal Commissioner, 4 Additional
Municipal Commissioners, 5 NGO Council representatives, and 5 LACG
representatives. This is a historic first, with a lot of potential for
resolving civic problems and greatly improving the quality of life in
The next issue to be taken up was pertaining to hawkers. This issue has
now been in the courts since two decades. It is now in the final stages in
the Supreme Court, and the orders and guidelines that are set down will be
the defining ones for the hawker issue for the city. So it is of paramount
importance to have the best possible solutions for this issue.We would
like to take the opportunity of giving a recommendation to the BMC on
behalf of the NGO Council after properly reviewing the various Court
orders till date, as well as the detailed studies made by many
organisations for Mumbai, as well as getting inputs from a wide variety of
stakeholders and affected parties. Nearly 50 people and organisations are
now engaged in these discussions. This too is a first, as such
deliberations of conflicting parties seem to have not really taken place
in the past.
Several other initiatives have been done e.g. the first-ever workshop with
BMC for all CBOs involved with the Dattak Vasti Yojana (Slum Adoption
Program); public display of a lot of information e.g. circulars; etc.
Other issues on which a collective thinking exercise have been initiated
are public health, stray dogs, and disaster management. We hope to work on
these one by one after the hawker recommendations are completed.
Throughout January, a series of meetings were held almost daily with Mr.
Ratho, Additional Municipal Commissioner, on various civic and social
issues. These meetings were attended by individuals and organisations who
had an interest or involvement in the concerned subject. All this gave a
better understanding to the NGO Council and to BMC about the different
aspects and perspectives of the different issues, who could be involved,
how interested they were, what needs to be done, etc. In due course, we
hope to take these forward.
The process of focusing on one issue at a time, discussing it threadbare
in a transparent manner in which any citizen can also give inputs,
developing a holistic solution taking into account various
perspectives and limitations, seems to be a useful one leading to tangible
The recommendations that emerge, and sometimes, even the process of
engagement and involvement of others marks a new way of engaging with the
BMC, where we are engaging in a constructive collaboration for change. At
each stage, BMC has been consulted so that the recommendation that emerges
is as good as a joint one because the idea is to have an actionable
document. For those who have been disillusioned with the BMC and seek a
confrontational approach, or who feel that it is the BMC's duty to fulfill
its obligations and not that of NGOs and citizens, the meetings held with
BMC have not been satisfying, as it has been clearly stated that such
meetings are not for venting frustration or arguing but for understanding
perspectives and finding solutions. Some organisations have expressed that
they are not familiar with discussions via email and seek more meetings
which has just not been possible because once a matter is taken up, it
soon acquires a tempo of its own. For maybe these or other personal
reasons, some members of the NGO Council, e.g. Citispace and Lok Satta,
have opted out, even as several NGOs have voiced their desire to become
members of the Council. The support and encouragement that we have
received from NGOs and individuals from across the city and country has
enabled us to come this far, and encouraged us to take on more issues and
build the capacity of the
Council. As is expected in any public activity, there have been brickbats
with the bouquets, but the strong belief that the role of civil society
and the NGO Council is essential in good city governance has been the main
I have been funding the activities of the NGO Council but as it grows,
funding needs are increasing, e.g. for a secretariat type function, for an
experienced staff member, and for researching and putting together concept
papers. So do let me know of any organisations or individuals who are
likely to see value in what we are doing and have the possibility of
funding at least Rs. 10 lakhs a year. Else, at some point, we will have to
look at membership fees of, say, Rs. 1000 a month.
If you would like to take up a cause for the entire sector in which your
NGO is involved, please let me know.
If there is any area which you would like to take up with BMC, please let
me know. For instance, for June 5, World Environment Day, if you would
like some event to be held jointly by your organisation along with BMC and
the NGO Council, do let me know at the earliest.
The existing BMC structure and machinery seems to limit them from setting
up a project team in place for new initiatives. They are keen and willing
for the NGO Council members and others to be involved so if your
organisation would like to be involved, please let me know. For example,
USAID and CEE have
offered to BMC to prepare a communication campaign for cleanliness and the
NGO Council is also involved in providing feedback for that campaign.
The need and value of a body such as the NGO Council to the city and
country is slowly becoming apparent. I greatly appreciate the explicit and
implicit support of every NGO Council member.
Much as I would have liked, I have not been able to be in regular personal
contact with you but I would be pleased to discuss any aspect that you
would like to at any time convenient to you whenever you so
Convenor, NGO Council