The seething anger of residents of Wakad and Narhe neighbourhoods reflecting in their decision to boycott voting for the 21st Oct Assembly elections isn’t very surprising.
While it’s right that voting is the right and responsibility of every citizen, there comes a time when he or she is so taken for granted that, that anger erupts, enough to boycott voting; in mass.
This is the sentiment of hundreds and thousands of residents of the Wakad and Narhe neighbourhoods, who are deprived of their rightful water supply from the civic authorities despite paying through their nose for years on end, to buy these properties.
Finally, they have publicly declared that `no water, no vote’ with many of them putting up placards and banning political candidates from campaigning in their housing societies.
Honestly, enough is enough. In a bid to rapidly develop the city, citing the advent of the IT industry in Pune, the merged villages which has witnessed large scale residential housing boom, has had unbridled construction without the basic infrastructure of proper water supply and public roads.
All that is required for the builder is to make an affidavit to the civic body, stating it will ensure these amenities are provided, particularly, water supply.
With the PMC or PCMC shrugging off their responsibilities with this affidavit, the stakeholder at the receiving end is the resident of a housing society and there are hundreds and thousands of them suffering the pangs of perpetual water crisis.
While the builder presumably made his fast buck, selling off a home to the unaware buyer, the civic authorities have turned a Nelson’s eye to the blatant water tanker mafia controlled by the local politicians and their cronies.
What’s disgusting is the fact that the residents of neighbourhoods like Wakad and Narhe and many others are paying taxes not only to PCMC or PMC but also to the Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (PMRDA), as development funds, but are being denied services.
The Pimpri Chinchwad Housing Societies Federation consists of nearly 4,000 housing societies of large clusters and each one of them pays nearly two to three lakh rupees per month to water tankers. All complaints to the PCMC have fallen on deaf ears.
As per the Pune Mirror report, Narhe which falls in the Khadakwasla constituency is close to Hinjewadi Tech Park and has over 1.5 lakh residents, mostly IT professionals. They rue that delay of Narhe in PMC has denied them good public roads and sewage system and water tanker mafia that is ripping them off financially due to false water crisis.
Indeed, it is a cause of grave concern that these two neighbourhoods are not the isolated victims.
They represent the larger malaise that afflicts probably all housing societies, built since the late 1990s, in the merged villages that are well-to-do neighbourhoods today. Local political leaders, across party lines, have hell cared for the citizens and have cozily joined hands with builder and development lobby – no prizes for guessing, why. The PMC, the PCMC and the PMRDA too have been the most ill-governed civic bodies, happy to ignore the criminal negligence of their political masters and builders.
How long can the citizens bear such injustice?
How long can democracy be a one-sided affair that citizens must cast their vote because it is their duty but those elected can turn away and pander to vested interest, once they get their votes?
The 2019 monsoons have witnessed that the misgoverning of the civic authorities is not restricted to just denial of water supply and roads to housing societies. The entire city has been held to ransom – clogged with illegal encroachments on nullahs, small streams, river banks, river beds, dumping of construction debris in rivers, lack of proper storm water and sewage drainage systems and negligence in the civic body’s duty of de-clogging drains and nullahs before monsoons.
As a result, flash floods in so many neighbourhoods have become life-threatening for citizens and hundreds of them are still coping with loss of their property and belongings.
The havoc is horrendous, all perpetuated by the criminal attitude of powers that be, in giving illegal permissions for constructions and allowing illegal dumping of construction debris in rivers. Thus, destroying a beautiful city, blessed with culture, intellect and good climate.
Citizens have reached the end of their patience. Refraining from voting is a sign of utter disgust, anger and frustration of a community which has to bear the brunt of someone else’s corruption and unholy nexus.
The political fraternity may well continue to be defiant, arrogant at its power of money and muscle. But hey, every voter counts and soon the tables may turn.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,