Coronavirus in Mumbai: Nurse-turned Mayor Kishori Pednekar talks about power struggle during pandemic
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Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar, on Tuesday stated the abolishment of the Mayor In Council (MIC) system has left the Mayor with lesser powers in terms of decision making.

The Mayor was speaking at a panel discussion webinar hosted by city based NGO group, Praja Foundation. The Mayor was speaking on the challenges faced by the frontline workers in the battle against the global pandemic.

"Mayor doesn't have administrative powers in Mumbai's local governance system. Most of the administrative calls are being taken by the bureaucrats. The mayor has limited powers compared to the Municipal Commissioner and both the mayor and commissioner needs to be on the same page always," stated Mayor Pednekar.

"However when the pandemic situation rose, I believe the Mayor must have had some exclusive powers considering an emergency situation" she added.

The MIC system was abolished in the late 90s after the civic body suffered a heavy financial irregularities.

Mayor Pednekar asserted, not having exclusive powers didn't stop her from hitting the road and monitoring the situation from the ground itself.

"I am a trained nurse and I monitored the public health infrastructure very closely. During the initial days of lockdown there was a crisis in the health infrastructure was almost on the verge of a breakdown, which is why I was there on the ground monitoring the situation and tackling the crisis," stated the mayor.

Echoing her words panelist Amit Chandra (Managing Director, Bain Capital) stated, the government now needs to do long term planning of possible issues.

"The government needs to spend more into strengthening the health infrastructure and improved sanitation. Building more toilets in congested areas like Dharavi is need of the hour. Had there be more toilets in Dharavi the pandemic wouldn't have spread so fast," told Chandra.

Chandra also highlighted the importance of having research data, factsheet which eventually leads to transparency the policymaking.

"Its undeniable that government has played a critical role. However as a society we need to understand the power of data. Research data and insight to every micro problem of the society is required, because as a society we can't run behind problems always, and need to be proactive instead," Chadra stated.

Panelist Sishir Joshi (CEO, Project Mumbai) asserted the importance of communication between the government and public sectors.

"Communication is important and it has helped the local organisation in the process of decision making. There have been hundreds of NGOs and independent organisations which worked together in these times of trials. Communication has been a key in the fight against the pandemic," stated Joshi.

Mayor Pednekar also asserted, that the COVID-19 pandemic has also acted as a wake up call and thus made citizens more aware and disciplined.

"Mumbaikars have now understood the importance of hygiene and sanitation for maintaining a good health. This pandemic has taught everyone a lesson and I hope this won't fade away as soon as we return back to normalcy," concluded the Mayor.

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Free Press Journal