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The no-man's-land syndrome

Narendra Modi's Swatch Barat campaign faces lot of hurdles - changing people's mentalities, overcoming the chronic issues of open defecation, lack of cleanliness infrastructure (starting from dustbins to garbage collection trucks) etc.

But one problem faced by it is indeed the no-man's-land syndrome also known as not-my-problem syndrome or outside my zone problem :-).

Check out the image - the house owner has cemented the ramp up from the road to his porch and the municipality has made a cement road right upto the pavement; yet a short portion between the two cemented portions is left out for mud and water to accumulate.

I must admit that this picture was taken a day after the festival of Holi, so the muck of mud and water is more dirty than usual with remains of water balloons and color from previous day's holi celebrations. Nevertheless, this does not take away the problem - the fact that our systems fail at boundaries.

This manifests across levels of ownership - the boundary between the house / bungalow and the road is dirty, so is the boundary between two residential colonies or a municipal district and adjoining rural (village panchayat) one, and for those who live in Megapolices like Greater Mumbai and NCR - the boundaries between two district / state administrations is as filthy as it could be.

Interestingly, some border zones such as toll gateways are well maintained, spic and clean but just run a few meters away from such controlled zones, the area stinks of urine, the populace in these areas usually lives in slums and not recognized colonies. And the problem is not just about cleanliness - it is true about road conditions, public amenities and populations alike. To be sure, these areas are not ungoverned sectors (and so technically are not 'no-mans'-land) but form a part of either of the precincts; however are often neglected portions.

How do we solve this problem? Is these a different law to be made for boundaries? Do we have separate institutions for maintenance of boundaries between two districts or two municipalities? Do we define a set of rights for citizens living in these border zones?

The answer beats me - it is possibly not so much a jurisdictional and civil problem as it is a problem with mentality and ownership. It is more of a problem of cooperation and ownership between various silos of governance.
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