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First Meeting of BMC - NGO Council on 17 Dec 2005
17th Dec. Meeting Minutes
of 17 Dec mtg of NGO Council with Mr. Ratho, AMC, BMC
Vinay: I will start with a background of how the NGO Council was formed. After the floods of 26th July, the Municipal Commissioner had called a meeting of NGO’s interested in assisting in relief efforts. We realized at that meeting that NGO co-ordination wasn’t easy, and there was a need to facilitate the interactions and networking between the MCGM, NGO’s and citizens, and an NGO Coordination Committee was set up for this purpose with 7 members. This enabled the relief work to be done faster and smoother.
Thereafter, it was felt that there needs to be one coordinating body to represent all NGO’s to interact with the Government and with each other. The grassroots NGO’s have the furthest reach and awareness of the ground situation which the Government doesn’t have, and this knowledge and experience needs to be put into any plan that is being formed, such as a disaster management plan. Using the experiences of the civil sector while putting the disaster management plan into practice would help to mitigate the effects of a disaster.
later discussions with Mr. Ratho, we took up the issue of Cleanliness
of the city that affects all citizens. It was again felt that MCGM needs
to capture and utilize, both in planning and in implementation, the
years of experience of NGOs who have been involved in such issues. It
would be extremely useful for NGOs to get involved with the MCGM, and
with Mr. Ratho’s support and understanding of how the MCGM structure
works and the value that such interactions can bring, the idea of the
MCGM- NGO Council cooperation was formed and this then led to the drafting
and signing of an MoU.
Civil society can get involved in civic issues at several levels:
1) Policy level: the policies that are being framed are thought through and evaluated/assessed by those who are at the grass-roots level.
2) Providing Services: this also should be a part of the policy, where NGO’s are allowed to render services, in a formal, economically viable manner. For e.g.: the rag-pickers organizations, who sort and enable recycling of waste can be formally integrated into the SWM system of MCGM.
3) Awareness Creation, Education, and Training: for all stake-holders, incl. children, citizens, and including sensitizing MCGM staff to take effective measures for implementation.
4) Monitoring and Reporting: citizens must be involved, and there
must be a system of transparent reporting that goes to the higher levels
of MCGM, to ensure course correction.
These are the broad areas of collaboration that the MoU covers.
In a democracy, NGO’s/civil society have different ways of engaging
in dialogue and this includes through the courts, media, opinion forming,
etc. This forum does not exclude or negate those means, but hopefully
reduces the need for them, and works on taking things forward.
Now that we have signed this MoU together, we could at this meeting
familiarize ourselves with the clauses of the MoU and discuss how we
go forward from here. This document is the first big step that defines
what the commitments and understandings between MCGM and the NGO Council
are. There are lots of initiatives underway in the city of
the aftermath of the floods in Mumbai as a turning point of how MCGM
and NGO’s could work together. On some occasions, we may not agree,
and we cannot avoid that. Despite the criticism and the media reports,
there is still an opportunity to work together. The MOU is the first
step, and we should now plan the nest steps and list specific projects
on which to work together.
is only the beginning of our interaction, and with the MC’s support
on such a partnership, I am excited and look forward to what emerges.
also continue to interact through email, after meetings, though meetings
help us understand each other better. The NGO Council will give a big
push to understanding cooperation with MCGM, both by those who have
already worked, and for new people.
democracy: the MCGM also has 227 very vocal Councilors /Corporators
who all represent a different view.
the flood, most of these were stunned – their political instincts were
not equipped to react to such a situation. MCGM had started working
before they got activated.
Councilors voice the aspirations of the people; still as a group (with
exceptions) they are not sensitive / responsive to the special needs
of some marginalized groups. NGO’s are sensitive to these issues/groups
that get neglected, and the NGO’s give these people a voice as well.
A forum/mechanism to throw up the needs of such groups is required,
and the NGO Council can take on that role.
NGO Council should also have a counter-balance to those NGO’s that get
the lion’s share of MCGM’s and the media’s attention and time. These
NGO’s are seen (whether rightly or wrongly) to be elitist. The Ngo Council
needs to provide the depth to look at issues such as slums. There seems
to be a big divide currently about issues such as slums – and the NGO
Council can build the bridge for such issues.
I fully support the initiatives of the NGO Council and the MoU
between the Council and the MCGM. Vinay had spoken to me a few months
ago about getting the several NGO’s representing different areas to
come together, and thus the need for an NGO Council, and the support
that Mr. Ratho has given is great. I feel that the NGO Council should
should pick up 2-3 areas first and establish credibility. Cleanliness
is an excellent issue that has been taken up already; we also need to
look at slums.
Within cleanliness itself, we could look at slums.
The slums issue is important. The city cannot be without slums.
The NGO Council should develop a policy for slums. Bombay First would
be happy to work with the NGO Council on this. The Citizens Action Group
(CAG) has also taken up several initiatives and is playing a role in
the improvement of the city. All sectors of society need to be represented.
The NGO Council can help the CAG in its agenda. Picking up 1-2 issues
and establishing credibility is important. We will be quite happy to
work with the NGO Council; we can’t have all NGO’s sitting in on the
CAG, but the NGO Council that represents a cross-section of NGO’s would
bring value to our initiatives, and we would be happy for the NGO Council
representative be a member of CAG. The CAG is engaged in discussions
with the CM on these initiatives.
compliments from Bombay First for this initiative of the NGO Council
with the MCGM.
I represent Apnalaya which works in a number of areas such as
Education, Health, etc. I feel that the fundamental issue is slums or
housing for the poor. How can this city change this situation of the
shortage of space? Affordable housing and the effective use of available
space for it must be the No.1 agenda. Everything else comes back to
the slums issue, whether its floods, or cleanliness. There must be a
“decent” use of space; at present 5 % of people live in “decent” housing,
and they set the rules for the rest. Of the 227 councilors, 60% themselves
live in slums. I have no concrete suggestion or solution, but Apnalaya
would like to put its weight behind any initiative to address affordable
housing for the poor.
read in today’s paper (TOI) that 85% of MCGM’s budget is lying unutilized
The slums issue also touches upon other larger issue of the city,
such as the 600 acres of the mill lands; the cut-off date of recognizing
slums, providing free housing to recognized slums. All these issues
need to be looked at afresh. What do we want the city to be? The mill
lands, the 16000 acres of the BPT land that provides opportunities for
the city to change are some of the issues that the CAG is looking at.
I represent the Federation of Community Organisations. We represent
60 slum-based NGO’s. We have 60 centres all over Mumbai from Thane to
Colaba to Malad; some are old, some are emerging, and we address all
the issues related to slums. The suggestion to network with the MCGM
is a good one. We are already working with the MCGM, at grass-roots
level; we would like to work at policy level and Ward level as well.
One of the areas where we want to work with the MCGM is on the reconstruction
of infrastructure that is being done after the floods.
The present way of working of this group is that we identify
an issue, like slums; with sub-groups under that like cleanliness in
slums, providing housing, etc. We get together a group of all experts,
NGO’s citizens, organizations, etc. who are concerned with this issue
and then form theme groups with theme leaders. The issue is then discussed
in an open and accessible way with suggestions from all; there are interactions
with MCGM at all levels. Through these continuous interactions, a Policy
Document is formed which then leads to a Plan of Action, which once
frozen leads to an implementation plan. The base document can be modified
and all initiatives of all groups are dove-tailed into that base document.
This is how we approached the Cleanliness issue where we had
a meeting with 30 MCGM officers and 30 NGO representatives. The discussions
were minuted, signed and accepted.
The NGO Council will give us credibility to network at ward level
with MCGM. We already have good relations with MCGM.
I agree with the issues of providing affordable housing to all
and the effective use of space. The NGO Council can take it up.
In Government, several things happen by default, as in, some
forces drive certain decisions of the Government, and the political
system responds to these “drivers”.
For e.g., in slums, the insecure situation of the slums makes
them depend on political parties just for their existence, despite no
improvement happening at
all. If the NGO Council can address the slum issue in a precise manner,
with facts, data, and present a balanced view on the situation, it would
be valuable. The media is easily led and rarely presents an accurate
view of any situation.
The NGO Council can sensitize citizens about the real facts of
the situation; can sensitize the political leadership. It is important
even for those who are not interested in slums to know that in the context
of the city of
The NGO Council should also be clear about its common approach
There is a high level of skepticism/cynicism from people/NGO’s
about whether to put in time (which is in short supply) to engage in
the NGO Council, versus putting in time in the actual implementation
work that they are doing. What is your suggestion for such a reaction?
I can also say that I have better things to do. All those who
believe that dialogue can lead to good things will take part, and through
this process, both sides can be pleasantly surprised by the good things
We have had very positive experiences with MCGM; we have a legal
cell, a human rights cell. Collaboration is possible and dialogue is
The documentation of experience can show that good things can
Similar initiatives are happening with other groups also; such
as BEAG and Loksatta. The NGO Council must involve them also.
Both BEAG and Loksatta are members of the NGO Council, and we
will take care not to duplicate efforts of any other group.
We must put the common agenda for the city on top and keep our
ego’s aside, and have connections with all other groups who are working
on similar areas. I would request the NGO Council to call a meeting
of all such groups.
We will have a meeting of such groups to discuss our common and
We should invite the political leaders also to attend some meetings.
People like me go from office to office so the political leaders should
also be exposed to such dialogue and interaction of civil society with
Very true, this needs to be done.
I represent Stree Mukti Sanghatna; we have been working for the
last 30 years; first in theatre, then our adolescence programme for
young girls, and now with waste-pickers. We started dialogue with MCGM
only in the last 3-4 years. I saw that we need to work on policy issues;
we were working in an isolated manner, our work was therefore not recognized.
value of the NGO Council is that we can now have a combined dialogue
with MCGM; we have a lot of strength in being a group.
experience of the floods illustrated this: in M-Ward, where we work,
the Ward Officer had invited NGO’s who wanted to help, and together
with MCGM we were successful in providing relief.
to take political leaders into confidence, and involve the Councilors
in the dialogue process. This will strengthen the NGO Council. Though
generally, the Councilors feel threatened by NGO’s, a process of dialogue
can change that perception.
Councilors feel threatened and alienated by NGOs. The average
politician responds to people better than bureaucrats. It is very important
for NGOs to interact with the Councilor in that area; they may take
credit for the work, they may even give funds. ALMs working with the
local Councilors have worked well; the response has been better.
(Mr.Ratho had to exit at this stage for an urgent meeting with
I represent SUPPORT. I am happy that this meeting is beyond our
individual organizations and is to discuss the issues for the city.
At present no one listens to the average citizen / the lay person. There
is no mechanism for the lay person to respond and get redressal. Why
should they have to go to NGOs if a tree is being cut? I have been working
for 19 years in the field of drug abuse, and would not have survived
without the help of the Police, etc. but the common man also needs to
know how to seek help.
On another note, for your information: there are 2 sheets with
each of you: 1st is a synopsis of the MCGM-NGO Council MoU, and the
2nd sheet is a draft of the guidelines that MCGM has made
for Prohibition of Littering, etc, and MCGM has asked people to give
their responses to this document at the draft stage.
week there will be a meeting to discuss this document. For example:
there is a suggestion that MCGM should collect fines for contravention
of these rules, but those fines are not a source of revenue for MCGM,
but are to be used for the improvement of local areas.
Another suggestion is the concept of cleanliness reports being
filed periodically by citizens. MCGM will take cognizance of these reports
in the fixing of penalties, route-planning, beautification schemes,
A third is the strengthening of the existing ALM structure, where the ALM can use the money from the fines collected for their work.
This is an example of how the NGO Council can add value to initiatives
We always degenerate to issues of beautification and cleanliness.
It is like sweeping the dirt under the carpet. But the basic rights
of people like housing, water – what is MCGM’s policy on water rights?
I would like to see the NGO Council take a more strategic look at Mumbai.
We need to get back to basics, to make this a meaningful dialogue. We
need to look at schools for children. We need to work at different levels:
what is MCGM’s official position on the rights and entitlements of people;
what are the standards of services to be delivered? These issues can
emerge from this discussion and a document can be made.
The MoU is a strong document – the onus is on us to get involved,
and do what is required, with MCGM and other agencies. The 12th
Schedule includes the right to Water; we need to come out with Policy
Documents for these issues.
The inputs of people are critical; we have 2 issues already underway:
Cleanliness and stray Dogs. There is no policy document available with
MCGM; it is up to us how to take this forward with MCGM; we don’t know
what MCGM’s stand on this is.
Yes, now that the MoU document is there, we need to take it forward.
People need to know their rights. About water: we know that there is
not enough water; still the MCGM is granting permission for the construction
of multi-storyed towers all over the city. There was a 2007 target date
for the new water project for Mumbai to be implemented, but just last
week that date has been extended. Limited availability of water will
lead to corruption, and siphoning off of water.
Does the CAG have a Policy Document on water?
Mr.Nayar: The MCGM has a Water Plan which they are going to share with us.
Similarly for Traffic. We have a group on Traffic and the Jt. Commissioner of police for Traffic has written us a letter asking for Bombay First’s support in implementing the steps they have taken to improve the traffic situation. The NGO Council needs to work on implementation.
The Right to Information Act can help.
The Right to Information Act can help.
Yes, that is working.
Vinay: We are looking at it differently. Why use RTI? We want to discuss an issue, say water, we are willing to sit down; give us the policy documents – if there are no documents, we will make them.
The traditional way has been to ask the MCGM: what is your policy?
They have circulars. Notifications, etc, but there is no clarity.
We can get the circulars and notifications and combine to make
a policy document. Trees are also an important point.
After Cleanliness and Stray Dogs, we will be taking up Parks
and Gardens, where we will look at the Tree Act, study it and suggest
There is a tree authority that is completely ineffective, and
there are currently 2 PIL’s in the court based on individual letters
to the Chief Justice, one by me personally. Based on this the Court
has now asked the BMC how many trees have been cut, the Tree Authority’s
One of the ideas behind the formation of the Cleanliness teams
is that for other issues, we can have other teams, such as a local citizens’
Mr. Javed: The NGO Council is a good effort. We work in M-Ward, and after the floods, we realized that there are a lot of health issues to be addressed. So please take up health also.
If I make a complaint at the Ward level, our organization gets
black-listed. It would be good if the NGO Council could receive the
complaint and address it.
The NGO Council can address it, since we have no fear of backlash
at the Ward level. Send us the complaints.
I feel we should concentrate on 1 issue, call NGO’s related to
that issue, and thus get direction.
That is the planned process; it will be issue/topic wise. Today
was a meeting to meet Mr. Ratho.
Regarding Slum development and housing, we have a policy and
also a presentation that we have made on the effects of the dec. 2004
slum demolitions in Mumbai.
Please share that document with us.
The MCGM doesn’t release information easily.
We need to drive the process. As an example, in the Cleanliness
Plan, every route plan should be made public. As we worked on the cleanliness
plan, we found solutions. Every development plan of MCGM should be made
I am from Red Cross, which is not an NGO, though we work independent
of Government. We work specifically in the area of crisis and disaster
management. The NGO Council can use our expertise, we have good infrastructure,
as also an MoU with the Govt. of Maharashtra.
One of the points of the MoU is that we need to prepare a Disaster
Management Plan with MCGM. If your organization can spearhead this,
we can form a group of all related NGO’s and formulate a policy and
Plan on this. If you look at the existing Disaster Plan, it is a very
shallow document; it reads like a first cut; it needs to get into deeper
levels and needs to be detailed.
we have the Principles of Disaster Preparedness that we can share
Beyond sharing, take a leadership role. There will be documentation,
sharing of experiences, the formation of small core groups – please
discuss with your organization and revert back to us.
By the way, I would like to thank all the members of the NGO
Council for their flexibility; though we could not meet, your implicit
support has been very valuable.
point, all of us have our own parameters of functioning – we need to
go above the dilemma and look at the situation strategically.
I am from IAPA; we have been working for the last 10 years in
slums and with school children. Education and MCGM schools is difficult
area; we have been trying to get permissions for starting courses for
over a year. We have been interacting with the CDO’s; I am looking towards
the NGO Council for help on this.
Vinay: Have you any written letters/applications that we can follow up?
We will be taking up Education next. We had a very good meeting
last week with MCGM and the Anarde Foundation and other NGOs. Adoption
also needs to be looked at.
This MoU is a turning point. It is up to us to take up the issues
close to our heart and tell MCGM what the policy on that should be.
The starting point is to know what the situation is.
I disagree. We should look at where would we like society to
be 10 years from now,
The Government and Society as a whole failed and hence NGOs came
up to fill in the gaps. The long term goal of any NGO should be to become
redundant. If we look at the existing situation, we will get involved
in changing it; we need to jump over that.
The creation of a Policy document is a positive step. If we come
up with a concrete way of working, we can do a lot. We should look at
2-3 areas, as has already been identified. We should look at water;
for instance there is a plan of MCGM to privatize water supply in K-West.
I need people to take up an issue and spear-head it. For example,
in the Stray Dogs issue, people are not willing to participate or lead
the group. Hence we at Karmayog have to lead it but this is the wrong
way of working; we cannot become the experts.
We will take up water.
Great! We want someone to take charge of different issues.
Mr.Ratho was talking about political leaders. What about CDO’s?
They are already working on issues – we need to find out the existing
policy and identify the gaps in it.
Policy is a 2-way approach. MCGM says here is our policy, please
respond. The other way is that we start framing our own policy and ask
MCGM for all the existing documents, and they are responding positively
Mr. Nalinakshan, when he was MC, had an extensive campaign for
making Mumbai a child-friendly city. We had worked very hard on that,
but after he left, it all came to nought; all our efforts were wasted.
Yes, till we signed the MoU, this fear was justified. But now
that we have a document, even if Mr.Ratho leaves, the document is still
valid. There is a clause in the MoU that MCGM officers must attend our
meetings when called.
I also agree that it is a citizen’s fundamental right to know
who to call for help; for the Stray dogs issue, we have suggested 2
helplines – one for people calling for dogs in distress, and one for
people calling when people are distressed by dogs.
Citizens need to know who to call for help.
At present we are using the Karmayog website for information
dissemination, as this is easier than the MCGM website that requires
some procedure. In due course, the NGO Council will be constrained to
behave and act in a particular way, and so using the Karmayog website
will give more flexibility and freedom of expression.
For example, for the stray dogs issue we have put the names and
contact details of the High Court Committee members on the website,
so that people can call and tell them that the situation is not improving
despite the High Court order. At present, they are cushioned and think
(or pretend to think) that the situation is fine.
We were involved in post-flood relief work and had interacted
at that time with the NGO Coordination committee. We have a crisis centre
I am glad that a lot of the NGO’s who have come here today represent
the vulnerable populace. ANARDE here disburse nearly Rs. 1000 crores
of micro-credit all over
We have 18 centres in Mumbai. We work with women and children,
especially street children.
Do you interact with MCGM?
It is a tragedy that MCGM is not aware of you and not learning
from your experiences.
Small request: can you give us separate intimation of meetings;
different from the Karmayog digest?
We are working on it; it’s an administrative problem – it is
difficult for us to also call and inform each person individually about
Deepika: we can share that responsibility.
Ramesh Turzapurkar: I
am a Training Coordinator with ANARDE. We work in 20 states in
Vinay: Thank you all for coming to the meeting.