Operation Black Dot is an apolitical initiative aiming to make voting easy, engaging and fun.
As a movement, we aim to bring about a change in the mindset of voters, by using a variety of platforms to achieve the objectives of increased voter participation in municipal elections and greater youth leadership in urban local governance.
The first and most important consideration for every individual who reads this guide is to take matters of local leadership in their own hands and get ready to vote. This voter guide will help in that process.
“Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve”
– JB Shaw
Click on any of the index items to go directly to the respective section articles
3. Water Supply
ii. Water Pollution
iii. Noise Pollution
Getting to know the city
A megacity of more than 12.5 million people. A city that is beyond all definitions, and stands for all the superlatives in the dictionary.
Are these facts making you feel proud of being a resident of Mumbai? Wait a moment, take a look at these facts too
These are not just numbers and statistics, these are everyday realities that influence our lives as residents of Mumbai. Why are we telling you this? Because while the achievements of Mumbai city are built by Mumbaikars, the startling and depressing statistics are owing to the shortcomings and neglect of the civic administration.
Context for the Voters Guide
Through this Voter’s Guide, you will be empowered to:
We will divide this voter guide into 2 parts. Part 1 will focus on the various departments of the MCGM and the various services and activities that come under the ambit of the MCGM, thereby affecting the overall condition of the city. In some way, these crucial factors are the ones we can influence by casting our vote. Part 2 discusses why these systems fail, their relationship with our voting and finally the process of casting a vote in Mumbai.
Part 1: Essential Services
Services provided by the MCGM and their current situation
The Voter’s Guide will make you aware of the important facts related to the most crucial aspects of living in a city like Mumbai. These are:
Nearly 3.40 lakh students study in BMC run civic schools, the largest urban education program run in Asia. Across 8 languages, the enrollment in schools has dropped by 40,778 students from 2010 to 2015. If this trend continues, the Class 1 enrollments will go down from 63,392 in 2008-09 to just 31,096 in 2018-19.
Why is this happening?
On the brighter side, nearly 80% of the budget was utilized in 2014-15, as compared to 59% in 2013-14. However, the lack of interest of councillors with regard to municipal education and the resultanfullerforming at optimum levels.
The 2016-17 BMC budget allocated Rs.12,874 crore for infrastructure development in the city, apart from Rs. 1000 crores for the much talked about Coastal Road. Of this, Rs. 3477 crores were set aside for road repairs. A substantial amount, but did you know that till the end of November 2016, BMC has spent only 12% of this amount, which comes to Rs. 441 crores.
BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta recently admitted that “I can’t send my parents on the footpath”, revealing the deplorable conditions of footpaths in Maximum City. Here are some not so fun facts about Mumbai footpaths.
The island city of Mumbai has a need of 4300 million litres of water per day. This is the amount of water needed to keep all the families and industries functioning smoothly. Out of this need, 3,750 MLD of water is supplied by the 7 lakes that have been given the responsibility of quenching Mumbai’s thirst. Nearly 27% (900 MLD) water is lost due to leakages, unauthorised connections and errors in metering.
Mumbai has around 4.80 lakh water connections in the city, including 1 lakh unmetered ones across the city.
Factors affecting Mumbai’s water supply are:
24 hour water supply will be one of the major talking points in the upcoming 2017 BMC elections. After years of promises and reworked deadlines, 24 hour water supply is still a dream for most wards in Mumbai.
Steps taken to improve water supply:
The MCGM has an annual budget of approximately 200 crores for public health. But comparatively, little is understood about where the money is being spent on health every year. Some statistics acquired for the years between 2011-2015 display the following:
There is a high level of discrepancy in numbers collected by various government sources. For example, MCGM surveillance shows only 16 people malaria deaths in 2015, but the Public Health Department had issued death certificates in 92 cases with the mentioned cause of death as Malaria in the same year. This highlights both the discrepancies between agencies reporting death due to public health issues as well as the lack of coordination on public health.
We see the rampant inefficiency of the Public Health Department of the MCGM, as well as the ineffectiveness of data collection and corroboration.
What is being done? And is it enough?
According to the last Mumbai Human Development Report, Mumbai has the best health care in India. But it still isn’t enough. Here is why:
Looking at global standards, Mumbai being the best, falls short terribly.
The doctors per 100,000 of the population in cities across the world are:
⁃ New York- 393
⁃ Sao Paolo- 81
⁃ Beijing- 355
⁃ Tokyo- 282
⁃ Shanghai- 296
⁃ Mumbai- 54
As we begin to define the scope and extent of pollution across the city, we can start with the formulation of its definition. Oxford defines pollution as “The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.” The three recognized forms of pollution, air, water and noise, are rampant in cities across the globe. With the toxic substances used in the everyday technology today along with unchecked practices, air and water pollution have made cities fall sharply in the quality of life index.
With cities in India having air pollution levels as high as issuing an ‘emergency’ situation, there is also significant and unstoppable water pollution coming from industrial and household waste. With regards to Mumbai, this pollution rises exponentially with the various pollutants entering the sea and harmful chemicals being dumped onto the sea. Mumbai also faces very high and dangerous levels of noise pollution due to mismanagement of traffic and increase in numbers of private vehicles each year. Some insights on all the three types of pollution:
While a lot of news has been diverted to the National Capital and its levels of pollution, the reality is that Mumbai has a topography which helps in the constant circulation of wind around the city. This should negate any serious threat of air pollution. But that is not the case.
SAFAR, a platform to record and monitor air quality in the Mumbai-Pune region (System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research), has showed some alarming levels of pollution. The days following the Deonar dumping ground fire in Mumbai, mentioned in the earlier section, showed air quality in the area as bad as 341. To measure air quality levels, particulate matter (PM10) below 100 is considered safe. between 200-300 is considered unhealthy, and 300-400 is considered extremely unhealthy air quality. Even on an average day, the city wide Air Quality is bordering on 200, with a high presence of fine particles of pollutants from vehicles, industries and other areas.
On the other hand, even while an Air Pollution app is now available for citizens to track air quality in the city, the elected bodies seem unaware of air pollution as a concern at all. According to a Praja report, pollution features as a one of the top civic complaints in Mumbai. Among those companies, about 90% is related to Air Pollution. At the same time, pollution does not feature among the top questions asked by muncipal corporators in ward committees.
In surveys conducted last year, it has come to notice that even today, after many initiatives by the city and state government and civil society, 4.3% of all water supplied in Mumbai is polluted.
The good thing is that there has been a long list of initiatives undertaken by the MCGM over the last decade to improve the state of drinking water, which seems to have been effective. In the year 2012-13, the pollution percentage was about 19% and similarly 10% in 2013-14. This shows some positive change in the levels of water pollution across the city.
A major reason for water contamination in the city is the swage and water supply infrastructure that is extremely old and thus has many chances of leakages where sewage water can get into the drinking water supply. The major pipelines of the city are more than a 100 years old and a lot of work is still to be taken up to change and revive these pipelines, as they succumb to leakages more often.
Slums with unchecked drainage and sanitation facilities are a big factor contributing to the pollution of the sea coast across the city, and the focus of slum sanitation needs to increase for any improvement in this situation.
A report by the Central Pollution Control Board called Mumbai the noisiest city in the country in early 2016. The CPCB data suggested that in Mumbai on normal days, the noise decibel range was around 65 and went up till 70 decibels. According to global health standards, a noise level of 80 decibels for 8 hours a day over a period of 8 years can lead to deafness. The CPCB prescribes a limit 55 decibels in the day and 45 decibels in the night time.
But as the report showed Mumbai to the noisiest city, civil society and the civic administration have taken steps to curb the noise levels of the city and bring it to manageable limits. Over the rest of 2016, noise pollution levels have been steadily reducing, including festival season. Citizen participation has demanded for mapping of noise pollution levels, silent zones, time limits and reducing of vehicular honking.
Though some positive development has ensued, the city is still gripped by both commercial and vehicular noise as well as increase in sound decibels for social events.
While civic society and the municipal body work together, active participation from elected representatives and inclusion of pollution as a major component in manifestos and budgeting is still needed to be seen. Political apathy will go a long way to delay and destroy the process of making pollution a lesser evil across the city.
Before you think, ‘It’s just garbage’, take a look at some figures related to solid waste in Mumbai. Mumbai generates 9500 metric tonnes of garbage every single day. This garbage, a mix of dry, wet, recyclable, e-waste and construction debris finds its way to landfills, street corners and storm water drains.
Mumbai has 3 landfills where this garbage is accumulated. Far from being a solution, this is a huge problem in terms of health, hazards, land usage, environment and corruption in the city. Let’s take a look at the current situation of Solid Waste Management, aka SWM in Mumbai.
1. In January-February 2016, multiple fires broke out in Deonar dumping ground, spreading smog all over the area leading to 74 schools being shut down temporarily to avoid the hazardous smoke. The smoke from the fire was visible from space.
2. Nearly 50% of Chembur and Deonar residents suffer from health issues arising from air pollution.
3. Eye irritation, choking, coughing, breathlessness are common in areas around landfills, and the infant mortality rate is also higher than the city average in these areas.
4. Under the Municipal Solid Waste management rules, 2000, it is mandatory for all local bodies to scientifically treat the waste and provide infrastructure for segregation, collection, transportation of the waste.
5. Out of the 9500 metric tonnes of waste, only 3000 tonnes is treated, while the rest is dumped in landfills without treatment.
6. Segregation of waste, which was made mandatory under the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 and under the BMC’s Cleanliness and Sanitation Bylaws, 2006 is not being done by most households and local bodies. This is leading to mixing of different types of waste, accumulation of garbage which could be recycled.
7. Mumbai sorely lacks processing plants, with the exception of an incineration plant for biohazardous waste at Deonar.
8. From June 30, 2017, the BMC will not be allowed to dump 5,200 metric tonnes of waste daily at either Deonar or Mulund dumping ground.
9. Mumbai produces 1 metric tonne of plastic waste every day. There are no provisions for plastic segregation and recycling on a large scale in Mumbai currently.
10. Out of the 116 major nullahs in the city, around 50 are expected to be blocked and overflowing every monsoon owing to garbage being dumped in the drains,rendering them useless.
What’s being done?
1. 106 questions about Solid Waste Management were asked by councillors in 2016.
2. 52 hectares of land near Kanjurmarg given by the State Government to BMC will increase the dumping ground’s capacity to 6,000 tonnes.
3. The BMC has been given a 52.10-hectare plot at Taloja in Navi Mumbai for disposing of solid waste from Mumbai. The State Government owns only 39.19 hectares of the land, some of which has been encroached upon. The State Government has also given BMC 32.77 hectares near the Airoli bridge.
4. In January 2017, the BMC gave the contract to process 60 lakh metric tonnes at the Mulund dumping ground.
5. No steps have been taken to ensure that dumping ground fires are avoided, or extinguished quickly.
6. The BMC hasn’t been successful in either penalizing households that don’t segregate waste, or incentivize the ones who do.
7. No provision for plastic waste processing has been made in the last few years by the BMC.
8. In comparison, Cairo, one of the world’s largest garbage generating cities at 15,000 tonnes of waste every day, manages to keep its city clean, and recycle its waste efficiently. This is done through the synergy between the formal and informal waste management agencies.
9. The Zabbaleen, or the waste collectors, collect around 60% of the total solid waste generated in Cairo and recycle up to 80 percent of the collected waste everyday. This includes segregation and recycling of non-degradable materials, and elimination of biodegradable waste. This percentage of waste management is far ahead of many Western cities.
10. Mumbai has a sizeable number of ragpickers which can contribute to this manpower intensive job. But the lucrativeness of the waste management business, vested interests and apathy towards public health and environment are obstacles in the way of efficient long term waste management solutions.
These are the various concerns across the most important civic services across the city. Amidst an ever growing population and the pressing need to increase resource and services each year, it is also important to know that the dynamics of the city governance itself poses issues in its effectiveness. Apart from the MCGM, many other para state and regional departments work alongside the municipal body, which has, over the years lead to too many authorities trying to govern various aspects of Mumbai. For the city to govern itself in a more efficient manner, the Municipal Corporation needs to be the strongest and most in favor of its citizens which also means a very strong decision making body that is empathetic and devoted to the citizens. Voting and choosing the right candidates for this responsibility is a must.
How many people vote in a Mumbai election? How does that make a difference?
The last election of 2012 recorded 44.6% voter turnout, which means only 46 lakh people voted out of the city’s 1.03 crore population that has voter cards. Moreover, the city’s population is roughly 2 crore or 20 million. This means that in a given election like the last one, only one fourth of Mumbai city uses its right to elect its own leader.
• As mentioned earlier, only 25% of the city of Mumbai comes out to vote, and this has been a steady trend for the last decade and more. The growing apathy in people about voting, which is evident in the growing number of people who don’t get their voter’s card made or don’t vote, is quite disturbing.
Putting this problem in context, it is important to know that a municipal electoral ward in Mumbai covers a large number of voters. After the recent delimitation, or the rearrange-ment of ward boundaries, each electoral ward sees a population of 54,000 people on an av-erage. This is a considerably large area for any elected representative to cover.
• Moreover, the city’s diversity is yet another factor. Most wards have a mix of slums and gat-ed colonies, street markets and high end malls, corporate centers and informal trading spaces, pockets of people from different ethnicities and religions, socioeconomic class, etc.
• As a result, when a small percentage of the overall population chooses its representative, given the heterogeneous nature of the population, it is easy for the winning candidate to concentrate only on the pockets which have voted him/her to power, and not on others. The elected representative has the power to dictate what kind of development will take place in the ward, which means that the quality of life of all the citizens of a particular ward is in his/her hands. Voting for the right candidate is the only way to ensure that these hands are capable enough to take the responsibility. By not voting, you are making a decision to not be a part of this important democratic process to ensure your area’s progress.
• The best way for a democracy to work, especially at the local level is to ensure equal and ab-solute voting and thereby increased pressure on the elected representative to be competent in enabling development, and being answerable for the same to the people who voted them into power. In a megacity like Mumbai, voting is not just a right, but an essential duty of a responsible citizen to be an active part of decision making in your city. It is the most basic responsibility of every eligible voter to not just vote, but cast an informed vote and ensure that people around them do so too.
Let us look at some essential components that make up the voting infrastructure. Here are the chief components.
The card that determines your eligibility to vote is the voter card. A photo identity card, the voter card gives details of the person and where they stay, using which a person can find out in which polling booth they can vote. But the voter card is not enough. Though the voter card makes you eligible to vote, it is your name in the electoral roll that officially qualifies your voting in a par-ticular election. This is also known as an Electoral Part.
All registered voters across the city are listed in the electoral roll, which also provides the details of the polling station or the place where the individual goes to vote. Electoral rolls are updated before every election and it is advisable to check in advance to see if your name is on the Elec-toral Roll, even if you have already voted in a previous election.
In reality this is a messy process. The records of voters are not handled properly and many times, before the election you will not be able to find your name in the electoral roll, even though you have a voter card and have cast your vote before. This creates unnecessary chaos which can be avoided if the entire system is upgraded and digitized, the process of which has started.
The atomic part of the voting infrastructure in the city is the Electoral Part. It is the list of voters in a particular locality. On an average, an Electoral Part can have 500-1000 registered voters, usually people living in the same locality, a slum or a few buildings. The electoral part also de-termines where you can go to cast your vote.
On the day of the voting, you are supposed to go to a room in an authorized government building and cast your vote. In Mumbai, this building is usually a school, and you will be told to go to a classroom corresponding to your electoral part and vote there. A voter card usually gives you the details of the electoral part, which makes it easy to vote.
If a classroom in a school is designated to an electoral path, the entire school is a Polling station. Typically, on the day of voting, many classrooms in a school have voting activity going on simul-taneously. Such a structure is called a polling station.
A corporator ward has anywhere between 7-8 polling stations and each polling station usually has 7-8 electoral parts. So in any corporator ward, there will be a total of 45-50 electoral parts or a voting population of 25,000 to 30,000 voters.
So to know where to vote in a particular election, you need to know your polling station. If you go to the BMC website, you will find a map that tells you the polling stations in your ward. An easy way to guess your polling station is to check its proximity to your home. This many not be the case with everyone, but for most people, it is.
In the last part of this manual, let us quickly tell you the steps you need to take to become a vot-er and cast your vote. To make this simple, we are considering a first time voter.
Fill a form
There are different forms available to register as a voter and depending on your situation you can fill the relevant one. These are the different electoral form numbers:
For inclusion of name on the electoral role- Form 6
For inclusion of names of NRI’s- Form 6A
For deletion of name from the electoral role (in case of a deceased person) Form 7
For corrections in the voter details – Form 8
For change of address (in case you are shifting to a different place within the constituency) Form 8A
Submission of form
Along with the voting form, you will need proof of residence, proof of age and a passport sized photograph.
You can go to the BLO and submit your form, and receive a receipt of your submission once it is accepted. You need to save this receipt in case the voter card is not delivered to your doorstep, and you need to take further action.
The voter card takes somewhere between 45-60 days to get delivered. You can also go online and check for your name on the electoral roll with the details given on the receipt, after a time given to you by the BLO for updating of the electoral rolls.
On the day of the voting, you need to have your voter card and the receipt denoting your details on the voter list. If you have not received your voter card, the receipt and an id proof may also suffice.
It is a good practice to locate your polling station before election day so that the process becomes easier. You can vote anytime between 7 am and 6 pm on the day of the election. There might be a line for voting so you keep some time aside for the entire process.
Keeping these factors in mind, Operation Black Dot, an initiative in creating mass awareness for Mumbai Voters for the 2017 MCGM elections, brings you some initiatives that will help you un-derstand more about this election, along with more information about voting, voting cards, can-didates and FAQ. Details here:
1. To check one’s name in Voter list/ Find polling booth (2 ways)
Option 1: Via Chatbot
1. Click on the link – https://m.me/operationblackdot
2. Open Link on FB Messenger and click on Voter Tools in Main menu
3. Enter Voter ID card number to find polling booth
Option 2: Via Website
1. Voting Card number/ Via Name Search https://localbodyvoterlist.maharashtra.gov.in/
2. Enter Voter Card Number or search via Name
2. Candidate Info
1. Click on the link – https://m.me/operationblackdot
2. Open Link on FB Messenger and click on Candidate Info in the Main menu
3. Checking at your home location to get details of candidates in your ward
Thank you for taking out the time to read the information in this document. We hope this has given you a peek into your role in this city as a well meaning and proactive citizen. No document can be created by one single individual or even a group people. We would like to thank many people who helped in the creation of this guide, hoping that it provided relevant information about voting in the city.
Praja, a powerful research organization helped with its resources and help as and when we needed it. The Maharashtra State Election Commission who guided and supported this document at every stage. The team at Operation Black Dot for their constant encouragement and inputs to refine this into an easy to read document which has depth and precision.
Special thanks to Ruben, Aditya, Saiprasad, Khushboo, Siddharth, Swaraj and everyone else who helped make this a coherent document.
– Anuja Gondhalekar and Nikita D’cruz (content team)
• Praja :
• Health White paper
• Councillors card
• Working of ward committees
• Data on roads, Pollution
• Mumbai Human Development Report 2009
• Report by Central Pollution Control Board
• Article and news reports from various newspapers like Times of India, Indian Express, Hindustan – Times, etc.
• Civil society news
• Municipal Websites
• Air Quality and SAFAR
23, 24, 25. http://www.business-standard.com/article/current- affairs/mumbai-has- india-s- best-healthcare- it-isn- t-enough-114121800493_1.html
http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/4-31- of-water- supplied-by- bmc-contaminated- survey-2771894/
Environment Solid Waste