The ninth edition of ‘Municipalika’, a three-day conference and exhibition on urban governance took place from 27 to 29 January at Palace Grounds. This is the first time Municipalika was held in Bengaluru. It saw more than 1200 delegates, 120 speakers from across the nation converging to share best practices in urban governance.
Municipal Commissioners, Mayors, urban planners, policy makers and members of Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) from different towns and cities participated in the conferences organised by the Good Governance India Foundation (GGIF). The exhibition had participants from corporate companies displaying the newest technology and strategies in dealing with urban infrastructure, e-governance and waste management. June Mukherjee, consultant at Fairfest Media Limited, a trade show organiser said that over 1200 trade visitors and 3000 general visitors came to the exhibition over the three days.
Bangalore has been grappling with the issue of solid waste management for quite some time now, so it was not surprising that a conference on "Integrated Solid Waste Management- Waste Generated v/s Managed" had one of the largest attendances at Municipalika 2011. The conference had a panel of Municipal Commissioners and experts who deal with waste management. However, with eight speakers speaking at a conference of one hour, the talk was hurried and more was statistics were shared than innovative practices.
Retired Brigadier J S Narasimhan, President of HBR Layout Solid Waste Management Committee, one of the attendees said that he was there to understand the latest practices in solid waste management and see if anything could be adopted in their locality. "There is a lot of talk up there we do not know how much can be implemented."
The exhibition acted as a platform to create awareness among students, citizens and government officials on the latest tools and practices in the field of urban governance.
Hamsa Ravikiran, a resident of 3rd Block Jayanagar who has been experimenting with managing solid waste in her locality said that the exhibition and conference provided her with an opportunity to discover the latest technology and ways to deal with solid waste. "Although we may not be able to implement them on a micro level, we at least know what is out there. We can press the authorities to look in them and see what can be adopted."
Divya Bathina, a second year M Tech student at Karnataka State Remote Sensing Applications Centre (KSRSAC) feels that the exhibition was one of the best platforms to know the latest happenings in the field of planning. "Through internet we can find out what is happening globally but places like these are where we discover what is happening on a more local level."
Divya’s classmate, Haji Rahmathullah who is working on a GIS (Geo Informatics System) project said, "Mysore is implementing GIS in their solid waste management. Since, I am working on a similar project it was a good learning experience."
Some of the stalls at the exhibition included the latest technologies on sewage management, water purification, solid waste management, energy conservation. Various municipal corporations such as Bhopal, Mysore, Surat and Hubli-Dharwad and BBMP had set up stalls to display some of the urban governance practices that they follow.
V Avinash Babu, an associate at Vennar Organic Fertilizer Private Limited that had an organic composter on display said that although there might not be any immediate sales, people now know that a particular product exists and may recommend it someone interested in the product. "We too discover about different technologies and tell about it to someone else. A venue like this is a good place for networking and exchanging information."
Bengaluru’s own BBMP too had setup a stall to create awareness about food adulteration, drawing one of the biggest crowds. Iqbal, a lab technician in the BBMP Health Department said, "We show how through simple techniques an ordinary citizen can determine if common foods like milk, coffee powder, fruits and vegetables are adulterated or not. They are simple ways to protect one’s health". The stall, he said, attracted an average of 500 visitors per day.
From the large number of citizens and students that visited the exhibition and attended the conference, it was evident that the common man was interested in knowing the latest in urban governance even though there was not much that they could implement on a community or individual scale but the awareness of the latest practices was much valued.
G Venkataramaiah, a Panchayat member of Srirampura, Hosadurga Taluk said, "Most of what is here is expensive to implement on a small scale but we know what is happening. Based on some of the practices seen here on waste management and water treatment, we will see if we can create similar systems to suit our needs." ⊕