Deliberative Democracy Initiatives in Pune
Inclusive public deliberation that influences decision-making by an elected representative government helps deepen democracy. Participatory planning and budgeting that is already carried out in Kerala in villages and cities, gram sabhas, neighbourhood planning by self-help groups and neighbourhood groups, participatory budgeting in Pune are forms of direct participation by people. A provision for engagement of the public in civic decision-making in the form of Area Sabhas has been included in the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act. However, as rules have not been made, the Area Sabha provision has not been implemented.
Nevertheless, over the last few years, the CEE Urban Programmes team in Pune has made some efforts to organise inclusive, informed, deliberative public discussions, usually with the local government also engaged. These deliberations have yielded much learning about the issues that were discussed, as well as about the methods of how to organize such deliberations. Here are brief descriptions.
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Designing Street Spaces with People, Dattawadi, Pune
Pune, as elsewhere, faces challenges of car dependency, with cars overtaking the available roads and pathways. To stem this, we need sustainable 21st century transport systems, including transport alternatives – principally mass transit, walking and cycling facilities – while at the same time, creating a more attractive and livable place.
This workshop was part of a research project to identify ways to redesign mixed-use neighbourhoods in Pune towards more people-oriented mobility, and to achieve more equitable outcomes. Using a collaborative, enquiry-by-design process, the community, technical experts, officials and interested others work together to suggest and evaluate ways to better design our streets and hence neighbourhood. The research was premised on the idea that collaborative and deliberative processes among stakeholders can be helpful in addressing complex civic issues. The aim of this workshop was been to make sure every voice is included in developing a coherent community voice about the way forward. Using small group discussions, suggestions made were then linked through networked computers and an innovative online deliberation platform that enabled the room to develop common themes and priorities in a short period of time.
Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Parisar, Sustainable Urban Mobility Network (SUM Net), Dr. BN College of Architecture for Women, and Curtin University, under the auspices of AUSAID support, organized this innovative process to involve people in reclaiming the streets of Pune so our neighbourhoods can be more walkable and livable.
Making our Participatory Budget in Pune more Effective
Pune Municipal Corporation has been conducting the citizens Participatory Budget (PB)process since 2006. Over 800 projects for neighbourhood improvement have been included in the PMC Budget of 2015-16 under the Citizens’ Budget section. These include installation of benches, trees, footpath repair, signage, vendors’ platforms, toilets, drainage etc. A study of Participatory Budgeting in Pune, done by CEE in 2013, showed achievements – simple process, conducted regularly by PMC since 2006, substantial quantum of funds has been allocated and there is some response to suggestions from the poor. Some areas of improvement are in relation to the number and diversity of citizens participating, the quality of discussion and deliberation among citizens about civic issues solutions and potential projects, the transparency of the process, and the implementation of projects. A workshop on Pune’s PB was arranged in August 2014, which provided numerous suggestions for improvement. (Download the Workshop Report).
Another inclusive deliberative workshop organized in May 2015 provided a unique opportunity and timing to change how we do Participatory Budgeting in Pune. About 60 participants developed suggestions and recommendations for making Participatory Budget in Pune more effective. They include people from different walks of life and from different parts of Pune, including hawkers and vendors, women’s organization, college students, mohalla committees, differently abled persons, professionals and officials from the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Some of the citizens were invited on the basis of a random sample, using the election roll, people on the street, and those who had expressed their interest in participating in such an event in a survey. A printed Report of the suggestions and recommendation made by citizens was provided to each of the participants. This Report was presented to municipal officials and elected representatives in the last session of the workshop, and later, submitted to the PMC.
The workshop was organized by CEE, Parisar, and Curtin University.
Towards a Citizens’ Manifesto for Streets in ABB, Pune
Traffic and transportation are a key civic concern in Pune. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has taken steps for improving transportation systems. The Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP), approved by the PMC General Body in 2012, envisions “Moving people safely and economically by emphasizing public transport and non-motorized transport”. In 2015, PMC won the Smart City challenge and designated Aundh, Baner, Balewadi (ABB) as the region for the area-based development component of the Pune Smart City proposal. Of the over 50 projects expected to be taken up in ABB, at least 13 are related to streets, mobility and traffic management. The Smart City plans and projects may considerably change the neighbourhoods in the next few years.
A public deliberation was organized in October 2017 on mobility and street design in Aundh by Centre for Environment Education (CEE) to deliberate on neighbourhood street usage and design, and to inform the PSCDCL about the public preferences.