City Pulse


June 10, 2014 By Team ICMYC
“When you create a system, create one that is user-friendly”, believes Maria Pinto. A proactive citizen in Langford town, Maria has been trying to catalyse change in her neighbourhood, laying emphasis on keeping the surroundings clean by effectively implementing waste segregation techniques and is also trying to resolve traffic issues affecting the residents of Langford town.

She expresses discontentment in the futility of having scores of residence welfare association meetings if they won’t yield concrete results. “I attended 12 to 13 meetings and in most of those gatherings, the top-most agenda was the Richmond town park. I thought it was a total waste of time if 20 people got together to discuss the progress of a park.”
Maria lived in Delhi before moving to Bangalore 16 years ago. After discontinuing her work in the field of Human resource management few years ago, she decided to spend her free time by getting involved in community work.
Richmond Town is one of the oldest areas in the city. The state of affairs is appalling as not many residents are concerned about cleanliness and maintenance of the area. Maria is constantly discouraged with the apathy and complacency shown by the residents who refuse to take ownership of their surroundings.
Solving the garbage issue in Bangalore has been a gargantuan task for not only citizens in Bangalore, but also the civic authorities. Richmond town is no different. Repeated efforts to mobilise garbage drives in her locality have yielded poor to no results as residents fail to apply and sustain the suggested solutions.
Garbage is strewn all around the area, in front of apartment entrances, houses, on the roadway and hence creating an unsafe and polluted environment to live in. Everything from garden waste to dead animal carcasses adorns the road in this area. “Everyone rakes up the garbage issue but no one is willing to do anything about it” says Maria.
Irresponsible parking, violation of traffic rules on one way roads is another headache that Maria has tried to deal with. Instead of the taking the drivers or traffic violators to task, the traffic policemen instead ignore and sometimes even insult her.
She has been disillusioned by the apathy shown towards the concerns she raised and the lack of cooperation from the residents as well the association and the local municipal authority.
Nevertheless, she does not let this dissuasion get in her way. She continues to fight with defaulting residents only because she wants to live and improve the living conditions of the locality that has been home to her for close to 16 years.
She advocates the use of positive and negative reinforcements to encourage citizens, pourakarmikas and maids to dispose waste responsibly. “If we are trying to bring a change, don’t go to infinity. Go to step one first, look at garbage as only wet and dry since we have just started segregating it.”
To solve the garbage issue, she suggests to set up one or two convenient garbage collection points. Also, to encourage garbage collectors, we must incentivise them based on how clean their roads are. Pay them for keeping their roads clean. Positive reinforcements work better than negative reinforcements, she believes. Fining people gives an impetus to corruption according to her.
In order to solve the traffic problem, she suggests that the traffic police or the local police to rope in citizens since they are running short on workforce.
Her example reflects a relentless struggle against those who necessarily do not agree to one’s ways. But ultimately what matters is the intent and how sincere is the intent.