Monthly Meeting

We meet every 3rd Sunday from 11 AM to 1.30 PM at Upper Ashankur Hall , Holy Family Church , Andheri East.
Meet us there to join us!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

रंग दे बसंती


Watching the movie was quiet a experience. The situation in the movie was just like a reality. The climax is enough to wake you from your slumber. Coming out of the theatre you feel like start hitting out and change the system. This experience must hace been felt by most of us. Your blood must have flowed like a hot stream in your body. I saw many young boys and even girls passionately discussing among themselves as how to fight the evils in the system. There were many wild views flowing around, some wanted to hit out at the politicians, who they believe is the root cause of all the evils, some just wanted to expose all the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians. The groups were divided among extremist and moderates. Some wanted to fight just like Bhagat Singh and Rajguru as in the movie and some like Gandhi.

Youths today surely want to change the system. But lack of guidance will land them nowhere. To keep their passion burning, proper guidance through information is essential to bring a change in system. AGNI is such an organization where you will get the right ammunitions to fight the system. It has wealth of information where the youth can weed out the obstacles which they will face in fighting against the corrupt system. Be it BMC or Police or any government organization, you should know their working to get along with them. We appeal to all those who want to do service to the society.



Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Advanced Locality Management groups prove their mettle Empowered citizenry can, sometimes, pave way for great changes. This was proved once again on August 10 when the Mumbai High Court ordered the eviction of 80 food stalls from Juhu Beach. The Juhu Citizens' Welfare Group-an NGO floated by residents of Juhu and 12 Advanced Locality Management (ALM) groups in the area-had filed a Public Interest Litigation in the court.The stalls were demolished on August 16. "We had filed the PIL more than three years ago. Our plea was to relocate the food stalls so that the beach could be beautified," said Adolf D'souza, coordinator of the NGO Association for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) for K-west ward of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM). He has helped form more than 10 ALM groups in Juhu.In addition to the relocation of food stalls, the citizens' group reclaimed around 10,000 sq. m of land for Juhu residents. "Some private property owners had encroached on this land. Now we can beautify this land for Juhu residents," said D'souza.The citizens' group has also successfully tackled issues relating to garbage collection, road resurfacing and repairs and construction of a storm water drain. An ALM, said D'souza, is a pressure group formed by citizens in a locality or a colony or a bylane. "I am a member of Military Road ALM and our group covers 500 households in our locality. The other ALMs, too, cater to the same number of households," D'souza said.These ALMs meet once or twice every month, list the issues concerning the residents and then start setting things right. ALM meetings are often attended by the corporation's ward officers. Mumbai, at present, has nearly 700 ALM groups, of which 36 are in the K-west ward.Initially the work of ALMs was limited to garbage management. Eventually the ALMs began taking interest in other issues. For instance, the Military Road ALM worked for building a storm water drain. "When we approached municipal authorities for the first time there was the usual dilly-dallying. Then we used the RTI Act and asked them when the road was last repaired. To our surprise we found that it had not been repaired for nearly 20 years. All they used to do was a token touch-up here and there. Once ALM starts exerting its pressure, the civic administration can't take you for a ride," said D'souza."It is cent per cent true," agreed Rajkumar Sharma who is actively involved with Diamond Garden Residents' Association in Chembur-one of the first ALMs, which was formed in the metro in 1998. For Sharma, it was his frustration with the way garbage was being collected that led to the formation of the ALM. "When we began meeting together to form a group, my family thought I had gone mad," said the 56-year-old businessman.The Diamond Garden Residents' Association has 126 members who live in 15 buildings and bungalows. Over the last eight years, it not only solved garbage-related woes but also got the municipal corporation to resurface the road, construct a footpath along the central avenue, erect street lights and plant trees on roadsides. "Ours is one of the best localities in Mumbai," said Sharma. This ALM is part of the network of ALMs in the M-west ward of Mumbai. There are 49 other ALMs in the ward, of which some 35 are very active.Sharma says that the MCGM authorities don't listen to complaints of individuals. "However, if you are an ALM activist, you represent the entire locality and civic authorities are obliged to act as they know that ALM members are very informed about their rights and duties as citizens." He points out that most of the ALM members know each other personally. In the aftermath of the recent bomb blasts, active ALMs seem to be practising what the police have been preaching all along: "Know thy neighbour". "Over the years, our bonding with people has become stronger. We have a lot of events and we know everybody in our ALM. So if a suspicious-looking passerby is spotted in our locality we can immediately question him or call the police," said Sharma.Since last year there has been a marked change in the attitude of MCGM towards the ALMs. What the civic administration is aiming at is the formation of local area citizens' committees (LACC) and local area citizens' groups (LACG). They cater to citizens in an electoral ward that sends a corporator as its elected representative to the municipal general body. In March, BMC signed an MoU with NGO council to decentralise LACC further into LACG. MCGM has 627 registered ALMs of which 230 are known to be very active. Municipal authorities have received applications for forming 12 LACGs so far since the signing of the MoU.But ALM activists point out that it would affect the quality of work. "An LACG should ideally cover 5,000-10,000 people. I personally feel such a group becomes too large to manage and factions can very easily develop and that will prove to be its undoing," said Sharma.Sharma's experience with LACC, too, has not been a good one. The M-west municipal wards have 19 electoral wards. "ALM meetings were held in the presence of ward officers. But now with 19 LACCs functioning in one municipal ward the officer may not be able to personally attend LACC meetings which are supposed to be held in municipal schools and not at ward offices. So very often you will have a junior official attending the meetings and conveying your complaints to his ward officer. It is natural that the reply one will get at the next LACC meeting would be 'I have conveyed your complaints to my seniors'. Also, there is all possibility that an elected corporator would like to preside over the meeting and if he is denied the opportunity he can easily affect the prospects of the projects," said Sharma.While most of the ALM activists are opposed to LACCs and LACGs, some like James John, coordinator of AGNI for K-east municipal ward, strongly support it. John feels that ALMs cater to a small segment of the population as they are locality-specific and are often dependent on the dedication of three to four individuals. "In their absence these ALMs just die. In K-east municipal ward there are very few ALMs and those which exist are hardly active," he said. "Wherever an ALM, LACC or LACG is working effectively, the MCGM will encourage them. I am not going to insist that an effective ALM should transform or merge itself into an LACC or LACG. Participation from citizens is a positive change and there need not be a formal structure to it," said Additional Municipal Commissioner R.A. Rajeev. Gul Asrani, who has been associated with Cuffe Parade Residents' Association, an ALM, said that many coordinators had felt that LACGs were not functioning properly. "I feel that the more decentralised the apparatus is, the better. We can have an apex body of all groups," he said. Even as the debate over ALMs or LACGs continues among concerned Mumbaikars, the ALMs have shown that a small initiative taken by a few individuals can certainly lead to astonishing changes. When citizens are alert and empowered even the authorities have no option but to listen and act.

वोलुन्तीर्स हेल्प चलेँ उप कुपेर हॉस्पिटल

Volunteers help clean up Cooper Hospital By: Aanchal Bansal June 23, 2005
If you think conditions at Cooper hospital are pathetic, then instead of complaining about it why don’t you consider cleaning it yourself?
At least that is what a few concerned residents and AGNI volunteers from Andheri (E) have been doing for the last three months.
On the third Sunday of every month, about 10-15 volunteers, armed with brooms, mops and ladders, gather in the male orthopaedic ward of the hospital and scrub every inch of the place. The ward accommodates 25 patients.
On June 19, the group met and cleaned the parapets outside the second floor ward of the hospital.
“There are not enough dustbins in the ward, so patients throw wrappers, bandages and other waste material out of the windows. As a result, the parapets and drains are congested with rubbish. We clear this dirt to avoid water clogging during the monsoon,” says K-east ward co-ordinator James John.
Project co-ordinator Ravi Nair says that they had been toying with the idea since Oct last year. “But it was only by April that we managed to convince the hospital authorities and get enough volunteers,” he adds. It all started when the group admitted a wounded man in the hospital last year.
“When our group visited him in the orthopaedic ward, we were appalled at the horrible conditions there. So, we decided to initiate this effort,” says Nair. The group members visit the hospital every month and clean fans, windows, beds, even spit stains on walls.
“The hospital is genuinely short staffed. Instead of complaining and blaming the system, it is better to do something about it ourselves,” says B Rozario from Marol. Manohar Naik from JB Nagar agrees, “I am glad that AGNI took up this project. All you need to do devote one Sunday every month.”
The group plans to put more dustbins in the ward. “Patients in the ward use recyclable plastic bags to dispose their garbage. But there should also be a dustbin next to every bed,” says Nair.
The group plans to educate the patients on garbage disposal and the importance of hygiene. “There is a basic lack of civic sense among the patients. They need to be educated on how used bandages must go into the dustbin and not out of the window,” he says.
AGNI hopes it can extend the effort to other wards. “We zeroed in on the orthopaedic ward because we got motivated after visiting it. But we would like to do the same with the other wards too,” says Nair.
Medical officer Dr A Bhausar, present in the ward during the cleaning drive says, “Residents lending a hand to our staff is a positive sign. We hope we can take this drive ahead to other wards.”
For sponsoring or joining the group, call Ravi Nair on 9821295960/ 28590013
‘The hospital is short staffed’
B Rozario Resident of Marol
“The hospital is genuinely short staffed. Instead of complaining, it is better to do something about it ourselves.”
Mark D’souzaResident of JB Nagar
“I am glad that AGNI took up this project. All you need to do is devote one Sunday every month.”

Thursday, January 3, 2008

leaking pipe unfixed as civic body, state bicker

WHILE MUMBAI continues to moan about water shortage in the city, the civic body and the region development authority are engaged in a two-month-long game of passing the parcel, and nobody's seems to be winning.
The two agencies haven't decided who is responsible for repairing a leak in a pipeline on AndheriKurla Road.
The result is water - 19,600 litres a day - instead of reaching homes, is literally going down the drain. And ironically, this is while the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is desperately trying to increase its current water supply from 3,350 million litres per day (mld) to the ideal 3,900 mark.
The Andheri-Kurla Road works fall under the jurisdiction of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), but the pipelines are the responsibility of the BMC.
As neither has acted on the crack in the pipeline, it has been covered with stones and sand gunny bags to prevent the 20-ft-high water spring from entering adjoining shops. But the water continues to gush down into a drain with a force enough to fill a 20-litre bucket in a minute and half. The waste - 1,000 buckets of water a day.
"We called up every possible officer but the agencies kept passing the buck to each other," said AGNI activist James John who has been screaming hoarse for the past two months.
"We are really upset that despite constant complaints since November 1, nothing has been done. The problem has now increased and wa ter coming from the tiles has reduced our business," said Satish Shetty, owner of Paarth restaurant adjoining the affected site.
Both agencies, however, have ready explanations.
"The crack was a result of the work at the culvert and pipes being laid by Mahanagar Gas. We informed the BMC about it," said MMRDA Deputy Engineer M. Ghadge, in charge of road works. According to Ghadge, the BMC has not yet fixed the pipe despite the MMRDA getting a replacement for the broken part.
But BMC holds the MMRDA to blame. "MMRDA has to act on it, as the problem is on Andheri-Kurla Road. But now if they are not doing it, we will take action," said Tarang Kumar, assistant engineer at civic Hydraulics Department.
Meanwhile, cracks are forming in adjoining pipes under the road, with water coming out through interlocking tiles. "On the one hand the BMC has announced its Sujal Mumbai scheme, promising round the clock water supply, and assigning Rs 20 crore in each of its 24wards for repairs and maintenance of its pipelines. On the other hand, it remains blind to such a waste," said James.
Middle-class Mumbai uses as much water daily as Shanghai. So why does it never seem like enough? Log on to Talk to us Tired of officials passing the buck and wasting the city's resources? Write to us at or SMS by typing HTtalk your message and send it to 54242