02-Oct-2016

Mysore can be SAVED only if Mysoreans get involved., Bhamy V. Shenoy

Any one visiting Bengaluru from Mysore will be horrified to see how it has become a dysfunctional city from being a garden city. Before it is too late, we need to start thinking to avoid a similar fate to Mysore. In this article I want to urge Mysoreans to get involved with an NGO like MGP to prevent Mysore from going the way of Bengaluru.

MGP has completed 26 years this March 2016. In the light of longevity of NGOs this is no less an achievement. It would be presumptuous to assume that everyone has positive opinion of what MGP has been able to accomplish during past twenty five years. However, in the light of favourable response to MGP’s activities by most stakeholders of the city, [like the administration, media and the general public], one can easily conclude that MGP has succeeded in establishing a high degree of credibility in the city. This has been possible mainly because it has always taken up hundreds of causes to serve Mysoreans without any fear or favour. It has helped directly thousands to solve their individual problems.

MGP has participated in several pro-people programs of the administration like tree planting (more than 20000 all over the city), being part of Railway’s and Chescom advisory committees, preparation of Comprehensive Development Plans (CDP), preserving the Heritage buildings in the city, improving property tax collection, addressing parking and traffic issues. It is unfortunate that despite this there is some misgivings that MGP always ‘opposes’ the administration.

List of civic issues taken up by MGP is a long one. Some of the success stories are: Developing a Smrithi Park around Laxmikanta Temple in Hebbal; developing a Coupon System to eliminate corruption in PDS kerosene; saving Cheluvmba Park when an office/residential building was constructed, saving People’s Park from total extinction, contributing to save lakes in and around Mysore like Kukkarahalli, Lingambudhi, Karanji; filing a PIL against Vikrant Tyre company to control burning of high sulphur fuel oil; closing down a polluting company processing old , lead batteries; convincing education departments not to announce SSLC and PUC rank holders and also to give access to answer papers; preventing the construction of rope way project and Canopy over the steps, plan to widen the road into four lanes in Chamundi Hills; preventing widening of NH212 passing through the city and diverting it to Ring Road.

However in some fields achievements were only partial. MGP’s C V Nagaraj has conducted thousands of food adulteration demonstration, but adulteration is still rampant in the city. Building bye-laws are continued to be violated on a large scale despite MGP’s efforts in exposing many such violations. CDPs only serve the land mafia and not the citizens even when MGP has worked with the authorities on every CDP since 1989.

But there is still a long way to reach what an NGO like MGP should do. MGP suggested Self assessment tax system to improve MCC’s revenues. But there is still a long way to reach the full potential (not even 30%). Protest against judicial system to reduce adjournments and improve justice delivery system had no success at all. It was MGP which had made the suggestion to break earlier KEB into five professional companies and also to have an independent administrative body to monitor their operations. But we still do not have 24X7 power. MGP’s relentless fight, from its very inception, to expose corruption in different government offices has not yielded noticeable results.

It would be escapism to blame the citizens for various failures or inadequate impact of MGP’s efforts. MGP should be humble enough realise that it has failed to attract Mysoreans, particularly the youth to become its members in adequately large numbers. And thus MGP has in effect failed in creating a very powerful public platform which could have prevented / solved civic problems and saved Mysore’s Heritage.

During the past 26 years MGP has been guided by highly qualified people with a verve for public activism. Unfortunately some of them are no more and remaining have reached super senior age. Cost of democracy is eternal vigilance. Otherwise our elected representatives will take us for a joy ride as discussed below.

Right now Mysore has three major issues where political leaders and public have different views. They want to develop Chamundi Hill at any cost while public wants to preserve it as a reserve forest. When the public wants a world class library in a central location, political leadership wants to build it in People’s Park violating Karnataka Parks Act and end up destroying the park. When Mysoreans are , suffering from daily water crisis, corporators instead of handing over the management of Vani Vilas Water Works to a competent professional body want to control it resulting in helping the water mafia. If public get involved, not only these urgent problems can be resolved, we can start the long range plan to prevent Mysore from the going the way of Bengaluru.

Mysuru is not just another city of the state or the country. It has won awards as the cleanest city and also the first public defecation city. But we need much more to preserve its heritage (will we succeed in constructing Devaraj Market to reflect its beautiful old structure and not another concrete jungle?). Therefore, those Mysoreans interested to save and preserve heritage Mysuru, are requested to contact MGP secretary Dr. M. M. Shenoy (0821 2515150 /94484 82050) to discuss their strategies as well as their involvement. It is only when public at large get involved, Mysore can be saved from going the way of Bengaluru.