ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability
Homepage About Members Supporters Themes Services News & Events Contact us
Pimpri Chinchwad, India
Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), located 150 kilometers west of Mumbai in the state of Maharashtra, is one of the leading industrial cities in India. The city has over 2,000 engineering, chemical, rubber, pharmaceutical and automobile factories.

Of its population of 517,300, approximately 100,000 residents live in slum settlements beset with environment and health problems. Most of the city has an open drainage system and raw sewage and industrial effluent are dumped into the Pawana River.

A large portion of the factory workforce resides in neighboring villages and the city of Pune, while the population of Pimpri Chinchwad is mainly new migrants. The resulting lack of cultural identity in the city is reflected in the alienation of citizens from the process for community development planning.

The PCMC is headed by the mayor, who is the elected representative of the citizens, and the municipal commissioner, who is the administrative head. The corporation is divided into seventy-eight wards, each with populations of about 10,000 people who elect one corporator (councillor). The corporators make up the general body of PCMC, which has legislative and overall supervisory functions. Work of the municipality occurs through various committees and is overseen by the municipal commissioner. The corporation is divided into ten zones, each with a zonal officer to address local problems.

The corporate process does not fully reflect the interests of the community. Citizens of Pimpri Chinchwad have little involvement in the running of the corporation beyond electing corporators every five years. Similarly, the budgets and plans of the corporation are not necessarily reflective of community needs.

Few interest groups exist. Certain sections of society are politically organized at election time, but there are no meaningful links between them and the development process in general. The industries in Pimpri Chinchwad largely neglect civil society-PCMC has no authority over industry nor does industry become involved in city development.

The 74th constitutional amendment passed by the Indian Parliament in 1992 created the necessary legal structure for functional autonomy of municipal corporations. Furthermore, in 1994 the Government of Maharashtra amended the act governing the role and responsibilities of PCMC to include environmental protection as an important responsibility of the corporation.

In September 1994, PCMC officials participated in an LA 21 workshop conducted by ICLEI in Hat Yai, Thailand. The resolution approving Adarsh Shahar Prakalpa (which means MCP in in Marathi, the local language) was passed in November, 1994.

PCMC created a special organizational set-up for administration of the MCP, comprising a chief coordinator with a two-person secretariat, a Project Team (planning team), and an Interdepartmental Committee.

The Interdepartmental Committee consisted of heads of service departments such as health, education and water supply. Its objectives were to coordinate different departments involved with the MCP, and to assess the technical and administrative feasibility of the proposals coming from the Project Committee and stakeholder group. As the action recommendations contained in the community consultation report have only recently been developed, this committee has played only a small role to date, but will be pivotal in the future planning process.

Creating Community Awareness
The LA 21 planning process commenced in January 1995, with a vigorous publicity campaign via newspapers, radio broadcasts and pamphlet distribution.

The first step toward establishing a dialogue between PCMC and the citizens was the organization of two public meetings to which all interested citizens were invited through the mass media. Each meeting was attended by about 150 citizens, fifteen to twenty councillors and ten to fifteen officials.

These meetings were the first of their kind in PCMC. The citizens were pleased at the opportunity to discuss development issues with local authorities but very confused about their role in the planning process-some expected to receive financial aid or have their personal problems addressed through the MCP. This emphasized the inadequacy of press publicity, particularly its inability to reach the illiterate and those who could not afford a newspaper. At the same time, many educated and more affluent citizens believed the MCP was meaningless talk about environmentalism. Hence, it became necessary to clarify this programme as a concrete framework through which actual development work would be pursued.

Partnership Building
A major component of the MCP was the creation of a stakeholder group, building the group's capacity to contribute in the planning process and involving it in planning and implementation.
The stakeholder group consisted of twenty-five people including the mayor, the deputy mayor, the opposition party leader, the standing committee chairman, the ruling party leader and people drawn from medicine, academics, the media, the natural sciences and voluntary organizations.

To facilitate education and teamwork of the stakeholder group, PCMC held successful briefing workshops, a "model city" visioning exercise and brainstorming sessions.

Findings of the community-consultation process were reviewed continually by the stakeholder group, which communicated with the community consultants. This stakeholder involvement proved invaluable to the process, assuring authenticity, the dedication of PCMC and the participation of respondents.

Community-Based Issue Analysis
From the outset of the MCP in the PCMC, conventional methods of communication with the community were found inadequate. At the same time, waiting until most of the citizens could be educated about LA 21 would have delayed the process substantially. Consequently, it seemed most effective to educate and consult simultaneously.

PCMC commissioned Marketing and Econometric Consultancy Services (METRIC), an Indian consultancy firm specializing in socio-economic research, to facilitate the process. The community consultation commenced in January 1996, and was completed by January 1997. METRIC used a comprehensive approach consisting of field observations, interviews, group meetings, focus group discussions and structured questionnaires. The community consultation process was the first of its kind in PCMC.

The timing, venue and medium of communication for the focus group interviews were carefully chosen to ensure not only convenience for the respondents, but that social prejudice did not exclude groups from participation. This consulting exercise involved more than 13,000 citizens and reached all sections of society including the poor, lower castes and women, whose exclusion would have defeated the very purpose of the MCP. Citizens responded with eagerness to participate in the planning process and said that the outcomes reflected their experience and priorities.

The priorities and issues identified were reflective of citizens struggling to survive and unable to meet basic needs such as drinking water, food, shelter and health services. In such a situation the priorities of sustainable development are clear. Priority must be given to providing immediate relief to the most needy, while also considering long-term perspective planning. In PCMC long-term trends and projections were not considered because research indicated that citizens were too concerned about day-to-day problems that warranted immediate solutions.

The two main issues which emerged were waste management and the improvement of slum areas. Slum improvement includes addressing issues such as bad housing development and poor municipal services (including drinking water and drainage).

Outcomes of the MCP
The PCMC administration is bringing together enthusiastic micro-level community groups without expertise in sustainable development with like-minded persons and organizations.
Sustainable development in PCMC is a continuous process, necessitating a constantly improving information base and planning process. It is a process with no end.

Lessons Learned from the LA 21 Planning Process
  • Briefing workshops, visioning exercises and brainstorming sessions can facilitate stakeholder education and teamwork.
  • Public meetings early in the process can resolve any confusion and educate citizens about the planning process and their role in it. Additionally, they provided a forum for citizens to express their complaints and expectations.
  • Stakeholders groups should represent all sectors of society and should be given decision-making responsibility and authority in the process.