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Clash of Egos: Raahigiri Organizers vs MCG Commissioner Praveen Kumar
All the people of Gurgaon arose to surprising news on this weekend - the city's beloved street festival, Raahgiri, was taken over by the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG). The reason appeared unknown except for the fact that Raahgiri organisers at the last moment said that they will not organise it as the MCG served a show cause notice to them for acquiring all the necessary permission. Not to let down the people, MCG hosted the event and everything seemed right on the surface. However that did put the future of Gurgaon's most celebrated weekend event at crossroads. 'Who owns Raahgiri' now is the big question on everybody's mind.

Digging a little deep, we found out that a war of words and clashes of egos were going on between Raahgiri organisers and MCG Commissioner Praveen Kumar. Nisha Singh, who is supporting the Raahgiri team, through a mail expressed her views against Mr. Praveen Kumar . While on a telephonic conversation, Praveen Kumar shielded himself with his own facts and also blamed Raahgiri organisers for ruining their image.

What does Nisha Singh say?

Nisha SinghNisha Singh, MCG Councillor of ward 30 

It is not an MCG Act i.e. MCGgiri. It is a Mr. Praveen Kumar act. Mr. Praveen Kumar as MCG Commissioner did not hold any discussions with the Councillors before deciding to interfere in Raahgiri matters. His decisions do not represent the body MCG. Mr. Praveen Kumar is not MCG.

Also, Mr. Praveen Kumar as MCG commissioner, instead of learning from Raahgiri's message and spirit, and forming policies, building capacity and providing infrastructure for safe pedestrian and NMT movement in Gurgaon, has decided to scuttle a citizen's initiative that was born and has grown organically. In cities world over, one of the main roles of Municipal Bodies, is to provide avenues for social and cultural expression to its citizens. Mr. PK needs to know that the role of MCG here is to facilitate this initiative not to abuse power to kill it. Citizen's heart and soul has gone into making Raahgiri what it is. How is he going to replicate that!!

I read Municipal Corporation Act often and I re-read it specifically to understand that, after attending and participating in the the event himself for last 22 weeks, how did Mr. Praveen Kumar come up with ideas to arm twist the citizen organisers. Technically, there has been no violations in organising Raahgiri. Infact, there is no precedence ever of a street event of this kind so there are no specific clauses to cover it in the Municipal Act. If Mr. Praveen Kumar was really concerned about safety of residents participating in Raahgiri, he could have proactively worked with organizers on the matter.

On the other hand, the Municipal Act does say that a House Meeting of the Councilors and Executive should happen at least once a month. Its been 4 months since the last one. The longest ever gap in last 3 years.

The Act also says that the MCG budget presentation, discussion and passing of it in the House should be complete by 31st March. That has not happened as of 4th May.

As for show cause notices, MCG could do well sending show cause notices for things that are broken in the city. Like, to the Builders for not providing basic infrastructure, flouting environment laws by burning garbage, using grould water for construction, not treating sewage - all things that they are supposed to do but don't.

What does Praveen Kumar say?

Praveen KumarPraveen Kumar, MCG Commissioner, Gurgaon

Inka shanichar kharab chal raha hai. Though they were doing a great job, they committed some 'sins' for which they are paying now. Their stars are not supporting them. Time bhi thoda kharab chal raha hai unka.

They made two big mistakes. Firstly, they did not take proper permissions to carry out Raahgiri. Being the MCG Commissioner, it is my responsibility to look after the city and what is going aorund. Thoda control karna padta hai. If they had proper permissions then why would we stop them?''

Adding, to his statement, he also said, ''Secondly, ego takes you nowhere. And this is exactly what happened with them. We gave our full support in every possible way we could. But, then they should have not demeaned our status if we were co-operating with them smoothly. Somehow, Raahgiri members pressurized us. When we discussed this matter with them, they promptly made a statement in press that our ego has been hurt. Ego clash hogaya hamara.

Then I thought its time to take some necessary actions and that is when I asked them to put Raahgiri to a halt until they have all the requisite documents. On Saturday, the Raahgiri organisers, on their own posted on their site that ' MCG is after them so, no Raahgiri.' So, on Sunday morning, just for people's sake and their happiness, within 3 hours, we organised everything and went on with raahgiri.

People enjoyed and appreciated a lot. At least no one could blame MCG.

Moreover, it was not their mind behind Raahgiri. It was Columbia that started 'bike path' many years back when I was in my IAS Academy. I was so inspired by this video and came up with the idea to implement it in my city. 

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