As Belagavi’s residents, we have much to be thankful for. We have homes, cars, delicious food, and the privilege of being able to travel freely. Most days, we even enjoy clean air. But, as the city continues to grow, it is facing the same challenges that come with unplanned urbanization.
Belagavi, once known as a pseudo-hill station, is quickly becoming a concrete jungle. The amount of green space has drastically decreased, making way for more modern symbols of development.
In the New Year, the authorities must focus on three key issues: citizen participation, accountability, and transparency.
We need to be able to evaluate the Smart City work, and citizens must be involved in the budget-making process. The formation of Citizens Ward Committees is a great way to do this, but we are still waiting for our elected corporators to take their oaths. These committees can also help to ensure accountability and transparency within the City Corporation.
The L&T is also working hard to lay water pipes for the 24×7 water supply project. However, many areas still only receive water once every 12 days. This is unacceptable, and we must strive to ensure that all of Belagavi has access to 24×7 water in the next two years.
Since its inception, Belagavi has been plagued by a lack of coordination between government authorities. The city corporation is unaware of what the Smart City initiative is doing, and L&T is uncertain of the corporation’s plans or that of PWD.
The road over Bridges have been built by the Railways, but the city corporation has failed to provide adequate maintenance, leaving them dirty and street lights inoperable.
Traffic management is largely focused on collecting fines, and many of the traffic signals installed have never been operated.
Ease of doing business is virtually non-existent, as most of the city corporation’s online modules, such as Trade License, are not functioning.
Furthermore, there is no single helpline for citizens to report civic issues, despite the Integrated Command Control Centre.
The city is in need of new parking lots, but the corporation has yet to plan for them. Public transport has not improved over the years, and the suburbs are growing rapidly, making the need for affordable transportation even more pressing.
Autos by meters, aggregated taxi services like Ola and UBER, and other transportation solutions exist only on paper and have yet to make a difference to citizens.
Affordable healthcare is also lacking, with no ESI hospital or government-run super specialty hospital on the lines of AIIMS.
Every year, the same areas become inundated and flood-prone, yet no permanent solutions have been implemented.
Even after roads are widened, they are often occupied by hawkers and street vendors, making them feel smaller than before. With a growing business and disposable income, new connectivity is key, and the introduction of new routes by rail and air will help.
As Belgavites, we are no different from any other common person living in peace and harmony. Of course, there are always a few fringe elements in society who seek to create hatred and division, but by and large, the average person simply wants to see good roads, street lights, sufficient water and electricity, and above all, a corruption-free government. Furthermore, the common man is not necessarily looking for government jobs, but rather, an educated youth who is self-sustaining and exploring the future of possibilities and opportunities. All they need from the government is a ration card, an Aadhaar card, a license, and a passport.
At the end of the day, a peaceful sleep and a happy atmosphere – there is no doubt that Belagavi’s beautiful city nestled in the foothills of the Sahyadri has it all. With the new year, all that a commoner here wants is respect for the taxes they have paid and their due share of revenue they contribute to the state exchequer. Respect for upholding the language, being a cultural fusion in its location, and sharing boundaries with three states.
As Belagavi’s residents, we have a responsibility to make our city a better place. We must work together to ensure that our New Year’s wish list is fulfilled and that our city is a safe, healthy, and prosperous place to live.