The Meerut Citizens Forum (MCF) is a not-for-profit foundation set up by a group of concerned citizens comprising of Architects, Businessman, Engineers, Professionals, Academicians, Doctors, Chartered Accountants, Lawyers, Educationists, Industrialists, Media persons, Social Workers, retired Govt. officials among others. The MCF strives for Meerut to be a city with good quality of life.
A news report carried by the national daily The Times of India in 2015 succinctly captured state of affairs in our cities. It stated "in 2003, the Meerut Master Plan 2021 (MMP) was unveiled with much fanfare. The plan had been drawn with an aim to equip the city with the state of art infrastructure and adequate public facilities. Twelve years later, the civic authorities are in a fix with only six years to go for the deadline and more than 90% of the work still remaining.
Lack of coordination between various government agencies, corruption, absence of political will and fund crunch are some of the reasons that officials attribute for the failure of the master plan."
One of the underlying problems is the absence of powerful and politically accountable leadership in the city. Mayor is the head of the Municipal Corporation, but the role is largely ceremonial. Further, our cities have weak and fragmented institutional architecture in which multiple agencies with different bosses pull the strings of city administration. The senior government officials are heavily loaded with day-to-day responsibilities. Also, we cannot expect role of coordination from legislators - MP/MLAs. However, city can surely benefit from their reach in Central/ State govts, provided somebody asks for.
In such a scenario, ownership of development project becomes weak. The MCF realizes that it is only the citizens who are the permanent "owners" of the city and who enjoy or suffer the consequences of the quality of governance. And, it is they who need to come out and assume the responsibility and team up with both administrators and political leaders.