Benchmarking of civic services could bring much-needed accountability

Written By Unknown on Senin, 04 Februari 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: In a step forward towards making civic services more accountable to citizens, the country's largest civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will soon introduce service-level benchmarking of its crucial sectors.

This was unveiled by municipal commissioner Sitaram Kunte while presenting the annual budget on Monday.

The process would involve measuring and monitoring of crucial civic services such as water, sanitation, solid waste management and storm water drainage.

In other words, the civic body will soon consistently map the quality of water supplied to Mumbai homes, the efficiency of garbage collection or the incidence of water-logging in the monsoons, among other parameters.

Time-bound targets would be set for these services and their performance could be duly tracked.

The benchmarking is a requirement of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission which lays particular emphasis on outcomes as against mere infrastructure creation.

It has already been piloted in 28 cities across India including Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Chandigarh.

Given that tax-paying Mumbaikars grapple with overflowing garbage and clogged drains at regular intervals, any step towards introducing accountability is a welcome one.

Such measures will however, be effective only if the monitoring is transparent and well-publicised.

In keeping with our principles of democratic decentralization, it is also important that citizens are actively involved in mapping the progress of services.

The benchmarks should be carefully constructed giving equal importance to quality of service alongwith physical delivery.

For instance, while the extent of homes covered by piped water supply is an important parameter, it is imperative to map the quality of water that is being supplied through the established pipelines.

The benchmarking after all, shouldn't lapse into yet another bureaucratic exercise.

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