PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (PAPER II)
MODULE 12: URBAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The urban centers are characterized by interplay of multi-level socio-political and economic forces which, cumulatively, have added complexity to city life. And, this complexity poses enormous challenges to the administrative system involved in managing regulatory as well as developmental affairs in urban areas.
The Constitution of India directs the state through Article 40 to organize Panchayats but does not give a corresponding duty to state with regard to the creation of urban bodies. The only reference to urban self-government is to be found in two entries: (i) Entry 5 of List 11 of the Seventh Schedule, viz., the State List states: “Local Government, that is to say, the constitution and powers of Municipal Corporations, Improvement Trusts, District Boards, mining settlement authorities and other local authorities for the purpose of local self-government or village administration”. Entry 20 of the Concurrent List reads: “Economic and Social Planning, Urban Planning would fall within the ambit of both Entry 5 of the State List and Entry 20 of the Concurrent List”. The Five Year Plans also periodically highlighted the problems of the municipal bodies and the inability of these bodies to meet the growing demands of urbanization.
Despite the fast pace of urbanization, there is no well-defined and thorough national urbanization policy in India. In August 1988, the Government set up the National Commission on Urbanization (NCU) under the chairmanship of C M Correa, with the purpose of reviewing and analyzing the urbanization process and formulating policies for integrated urban development.
Some of the recommendations of the commission are:
- A National Urbanization Council (NUC) be set up to formulate urbanization polices and monitor and evaluate the implementation of policies.
- An Indian Council for Citizen’s Action (ICCA) be created to encourage citizens through organized voluntary effort.
- Every town, with a population of more than 50,000 be provided with an urban community development department, through which development programmes can be implemented.
The Ministry of Urban Development was set up at the Union Level in the year 1985. The ministry was bifurcated into two ministries in 2004 viz. (i) Ministry of Urban Development; and (ii) Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation.
STRUCTURE AND FUNCTIONING
In India, for the administration of urban areas, several types of municipal bodies are created for he towns and cities, depending on their size, population, industrial or other importance etc. these bodies are:
- Municipal Corporation
- Municipal Council/Committee/Municipality
- Notified Area Committee
- Town Area Committee
- Cantonment Board,
- Special Purpose Agency/Authority
All the above local bodies do not exist in all the states and union territories strictly in order of hierarchy.
1). MUNICIPAL CORPORATION
Municipal corporations are set up only in big cities. The 74th Amendment Act provides that the areas for different types of urban bodies would be specified by the Governor of the state, taking into account the population, density of the population therein, revenue generated by the local body, percentage of employment in non-agricultural activities, and other factors. A municipal corporation has a statutory status as it is created by an Act of the state legislature or of the Parliament in case of a union territory.
The municipal corporation is a popular body that provides representation to local people. Most of its members are directly elected on the basis of adult franchise. It does not have a sovereign status or inherent powers. It exercises only those functions which are allocated to it by the state government. An important feature of a corporation is that there is a statutory separation of the legislative (or the deliberative) wing and the executive wing. The council of a corporation is headed by the Mayor and its standing committees constitute the deliberative wing which takes decisions. The Municipal Commissioner is the executive authority, responsible for enforcing these decisions. Collectively, the council headed by the Mayor, the standing committees and the Municipal Commissioner make up the corporation.
The chairperson in a corporation is the Mayor, who is supported by a Deputy Mayor. The Mayor is elected in most of the states generally for a one year renewable term. He can be removed from his office by a no-confidence motion of the council. He is the “first citizen” of the city but is not the real executive. The Mayor presides over the meetings of the council. In some states, he is authorized to constitute committees, make appointments to the lower grade positions, supervise and inspect the working of various units and represent the corporation on national and social occasions. As the size of a corporation is generally large, several committees are set up to facilitate its working. The committees such as those dealing with finance, public works etc., are almost common to all the corporations. More committees can be set up as per the felt needs of the corporations.
The Municipal Commissioner is the chief executive officer of the corporation. He is at the apex of the municipal hierarchy and is the key officer controlling the administrative machinery of the corporation. He is appointed by the state government. In the case of a union territory, the central government makes the appointment. Generally, officers belonging to the Indian administrative Service are appointed on this post, though, even a state service officer may also be appointed. Since a municipal commissioner is the pivot of municipal administration, he performs varied tasks. He executes or implements the decisions of the council and its committees. All municipal records are in his custody, he prepares the budget estimates, makes appointments to certain categories of posts and can enter into contracts not exceeding 25,000 on behalf of the corporation.
The traditional civic functions of municipalities are being performed by municipal bodies. However, the 74th Constitution Amendment lays down that municipalities would go beyond the mere provision of civic amenities. Now, they are expected to play a crucial role in the formulation of plans for local development and the implementation of development projects and programmes, including those specially designed for urban poverty alleviation. An illustrative list of functions that may be entrusted to the municipalities has been incorporated as the Twelfth Schedule of the Constitution. A state legislature would be free to select from this list or add to this list while stipulating the functions to be performed by municipalities.
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in its sixth report on “Local Governance – an Inspiring Journey into the Future (2007)” has recommended that the following functions should be devolved to urban local bodies:
- School education.
- Public health, including community health centres/area hospitals.
- Traffic management and civic policing activities.
- Urban environment management and heritage.
- Land management, including registration.
QUESTION OF DIRECTLY ELECTED MAYOR
While there are multiple reasons for India’s urban woes, one of the underlying problems is the absence of powerful and politically accountable leadership in the city. Our cities have a weak and fragmented institutional architecture in which multiple agencies with different bosses pull the strings of city administration. Understandably, the most touted urban governance reform is that of having a directly elected Mayor. Recent reports indicate that Prime Minister is keen on this reform and has asked the Urban Development Ministry to consider ways of introducing it.
Mayoral reform has now made its way into Parliament with the introduction of a private member’s bill to amend the Constitution for strengthening local governments. While the chances of any private member’s bill, least of all a Constitution Amendment, becoming law is extremely low, it plays an important role in shaping parliamentary and public discourse. The bill aims to establish strong leadership for cities by providing for a directly elected and empowered Mayor. It also touches the right notes on other key urban governance reforms such as mandating the constitution of area sabhas and ward committees and strengthening the devolution of functions to local governments. However, it is the attempt to mandate directly elected Mayors for all municipalities that raises some questions.
The passage of the 74th Constitution Amendment in 1992 resulted in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) — Nagar Panchayats, Municipal Councils and Municipal Corporations — becoming a constitutionally recognised “institution of self-government”. However, it did not prescribe the manner of election, tenure or powers of the Mayors/Chairpersons of ULBs. The private bill mandates the direct election of the Mayor, fixes the Mayor’s term to be coterminous with that of the municipality, and makes the Mayor the executive head of the municipality.
Vesting the executive powers of the municipality with the Mayor would be a very positive move. Most Indian cities still follow the Commissionerate system of municipal administration, a British legacy, in which the State government-appointed Commissioner is the executive head of the city while the Mayor has a largely ceremonial role. This is an anomaly. In a democracy, executive power should vest with a person or a body that is democratically accountable. However, this does not necessitate the Mayor to be directly elected. After all, we do not directly elect the Prime Minster or the Chief Minister. Still they enjoy wide powers and are democratically accountable. Mayors do not enjoy similar powers not because they are not directly elected, but because State governments exercise enormous control over ULBs — politically, administratively and financially.
For responsive urban governance, we need a powerful political executive in the city with more autonomy, whether directly or indirectly elected. An empowered executive at the city can also be achieved through an indirectly elected Mayor-in-Council system in which, much like the cabinet system in Parliament, the Mayor has to maintain the support of the majority of the council. There is little evidence to suggest that directly elected mayors are better. In fact, States like Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh which introduced directly elected Mayors reversed the decision due to the difficulties posed by such a system.
A fundamental issue with a directly elected Mayor is that instead of enabling efficiency, it might actually result in gridlock in administration, especially when the Mayor and the majority of elected members of the city council are from different political parties. Notably, the private bill gives the Mayor veto powers over some of the council’s resolutions and also lets the Mayor nominate members of the Mayor-in-Council and vest it with powers. Essentially, it centralises power in the hands of the Mayor and his nominees and creates a political executive which neither enjoys the support of the elected council nor needs its acquiescence for taking decisions.
Even if a directly elected mayoral system is a relatively good reform, should it be made mandatory for all municipalities under the Constitution? India is one of the few countries where the powers of the local government are laid out in the federal Constitution. However, local government is still under List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. Hence only the State is empowered to make laws on this subject. In such a federal system, constitutional provisions should only lay down the broad institutional framework for local governments. But since States are often reluctant to devolve functions to local government, it makes sense to mandate such devolution in the Constitution. However, the Constitution may not be the ideal instrument for prescribing the manner in which the head of a local government is elected.
More cities should perhaps institute a directly elected mayor. But making it the only way through which Mayors can be elected limits the options of cities and States. An empowered political executive for the city can be achieved in multiple ways, including a directly elected mayor. When the U.K. sought to reform local governments, a directly elected mayor was only one of the three options given to the local governments. India’s stagnating urban governance system needs major reform, but it shouldn’t be driven by using a sledgehammer. Creating an empowered and accountable political executive for cities is important, but a directly elected mayor should be a political option, not a constitutional decree.
2). MUNICIPAL COUNCIL/COMMITTEE/MUNICIPALITY
A municipal council is a statutory body created by an Act of the state legislature and the criteria for setting it up vary from state to state. Broadly, these are: population, size, sources of income, industrial/commercial future and prospects of the city. Even within a state, the criteria may differ. A city which is industrially advanced may have a municipality despite its low population. The size of a municipality is determined by the state government, but the minimum number of councilors should be five. The size increases with the increase in population.
A municipal council consists of elected, co-opted and associate members. For the elected seats, elections are held on the basis of adult suffrage and secret ballot for which purpose, the city is divided into wards. Seats are reserved for SC/ST, women and backward classes. Nominated members and members with voting rights are the same as for the municipal corporation. The councilors can be removed by the municipal council, by the citizens of the ward or by the state government, according to the prescribed procedure. In order to lessen the workload of the council, several sub-committees are set up such as the ward committee to manage the affairs of a ward and committees dealing with subjects like buildings, vehicles, works, finance, lease etc.
The municipal council elects, from amongst its members, a President for a period of five years. He can be removed by the council as well as by the state government. The council also elects one or two Vice-Presidents – one senior and one junior – who are removable by the council itself. The President plays a pivotal role in municipal administration and enjoys real deliberative and executive powers. He presides over the meetings of the council, guides the deliberations and gets the decisions implemented. He is the administrative head of all the officers of the municipality, is the custodian of municipal records, approves all financial matters before they are placed in the council and represents the council on national and social occasions. He enjoys special extraordinary powers, under which he can order the immediate execution or suspension of any work. The state government also appoints an Executive Officer in the municipal council for the conduct of general administrative work. He exercises general control and supervision over the municipal office, transfer clerical employees, prepares the municipal budget, keeps an eye on expenditure, is responsible for the collection of taxes and fees and takes measures for recovering municipal arrears and dues. He can be removed by the council or by the state government.
As already pointed out, the functions of the municipal council are broadly similar to those of a municipal corporation. When a city having a municipal council is given a municipal corporation, the latter takes up the functions of the former.
3). NOTIFIED AREA COMMITTEE (NAC)
The Notified Area Committee is set up for an area which does not yet fulfill all the conditions necessary for the constitution of a municipality but which the state government otherwise considers important. Generally, it is created in an area which is fast developing and where new industries are being set up. It is not created by a statute but by a notification in the government gazette and, hence, the name ‘notified area’. The state government constitutes a committee called the Notified Area Committee (NAC) to administer this area. All the members of this committee are nominated by the state government and there are no elected members. Its chairman is also appointed by the state government. The criteria for establishing this committee differ from state to state. For instance, in Punjab, an NAC can be set up, if the population of the area is 10,000 or above. In Rajasthan, places of tourist attractions such as Pushkar and Mount Abu were, until recently, notified areas. As all the members of the NAC are appointed by the government, it is clearly a violation of the democratic principle. In a number of states, there are demands for abolishing these committees and setting up municipalities in their place so that the local people can solve their problems themselves.
4). TOWN AREA COMMITTEE (TAC)
It is a semi-municipal authority, constituted for small towns. Such committees exist in several states. The TAC is constituted and governed by an Act of the state legislature and its composition and functions are specified in it. Its membership differs from state to state. The committee may be partly elected, partly nominated or wholly elected or wholly nominated. The committee is assigned a limited number of functions, such as street lighting, drainage, roads, conservancy etc. The District Collector, in some states, has been given control and powers of surveillance over a TAC. Following the recommendations of the Rural Urban Relationship Committee (1966) that the smaller TACs be merged with the Panchayati Raj bodies, lately, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have merged their TACs with Panchayati Raj institutions.
Several large-sized public enterprises have been set up in India. Near the plants, housing colonies have been built for the staff and workers. Since these industries are a source of employment, people form urban as well as rural areas are drawn to them and, resultantly, small townships evolve around them. Among the well-known examples are the township of Jugsalai and Adityapur near Jamshedpur. These townships are administered by the Municipal Corporation or council within whose boundary they fall. For administering them, the corporation or council appoints a Town Administrator, who is assisted by a few engineers and technicians. The townships are well planned and provide facilities like water, electricity, roads, drainage, markets, parts etc. The expenditure on these services is shared by the industry concerned. The facilities existing in the townships are generally of a high standard.
6). CANTONMENT BOARD
This form of urban local government is also a British legacy. Cantonment boards were first set up under the Cantonments Act in 1924. While all other institutions of urban governance are administered by the state government, these are the only bodies which are centrally administered by the Defense Ministry. When a military station is established in an area, the military personnel move in and, to provide them with facilities of everyday life, a sizeable civilian population also joins the developing area. Soon, colonies, markets etc., develop near such military stations. For administering these areas, cantonment boards are created. The board consists of both elected and nominated members. The officer commanding the station is the President of the board. An elected member holds office for three years, while the nominated members continue as long as they hold the office in that station. The board performs obligatory functions such as lighting, streets, drainage, cleaning of streets, markets, planting of trees, supply of water, registering births and deaths, protection against fire, establishment of schools and hospitals, public vaccination etc. Some of the discretionary functions are: construction of public works and wells, provision of public transport, census etc.
7). SINGLE PURPOSE AGENCIES
These agencies are set up as government departments or as statutory bodes under separate Acts of the state government. Some such agencies are housing boards, pollution control boards and water supply and sewerage boards. Such bodies are set up, even though other municipal agencies exist for the same area, since there are certain activities which require expertise, concentrated attention and special skills which the municipal bodies do not possess. Besides, the municipal bodies are already over-burdened; they lack the requisite administrative machinery and the necessary resources in order to deal with problems arising out of rapid urbanization.
A). HOUSING BOARDS
Almost all the states have set up housing boards to deal with problems related to housing. The constitution of a housing board varies from state to state. Broadly, however, a housing board at the state level is headed by a chairman, who is either a serving civil servant or a citizen from public life. On the board are representatives of the state departments of finance, industry, education, health, labour and local self-government. Other members are the Chief Town Planner, the Mayor or the Municipal Commissioner and some citizens, including members of the central and state legislatures. At the central level, the most important agency involved in promotion of housing is the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO). It has promoted lakhs of housing units in the country. Most of them are for the members of the lower income group.
The housing boards, at both the central and the state levels, receive funds from the central and state governments for implementing housing schemes. At both the levels, some general functions that they share are: (a) analysis of problems of housing and advising the government on tackling them, (b) preparation and execution of the programmes of construction of houses, (c) creation of planned neighbourhoods (d) acquisition of land for purposes of construction of houses, (e) construction of houses at reasonable cost to help the middle and poorer sections, and (f) encourage research and projects for evolving new methods of construction.
In practice, the housing boards have also been catering to the requirements of higher income groups. Yet, their most important contribution has been in serving the middle income groups. Besides, a number of well-integrated colonies have been developed by the housing boards.
The housing boards are generally criticized for their slow pace, substandard quality of materials used in construction and continually increasing costs of the houses.
B). IMPROVEMENT TRUSTS
An Urban Improvement Trust is a statutory body constituted with the specific purpose of promoting the development of a city. Generally, there is a division of areas within a city between the municipal council and the improvement trust. Mostly, it is the newer city or the outlying areas that fall within the ambit of an improvement trust.
The composition and powers of an improvement trust are specified in the Act under which it is created. Hence, there are inter-state variations in the structure of improvement trusts. Generally, an improvement trust is headed by a chairman, who is a nominee of the state government. He may be a civil servant or any other person appointed by the state government. Certain representatives of the municipal body, within whose jurisdiction it functions, are also nominated to the trust by the state government. All other members of the trust, such as the Chief Town Planner, Engineer and heads of departments, are also nominated by the state government.
An improvement trust is a multi-functional development agency, which performs an important coordinative role by bringing the representatives of a large number of government agencies engaged in the process of urban development under one roof.
An expanded version of an urban improvement trust is a Development Authority like the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which was set up in 1957. It is a nominated body, dominated by bureaucracy.
PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION IN URBAN BODIES
Three types of municipal personnel systems obtain in the Indian states and union territories are:
- The Separate Personnel System: In this system, each local authority has the power to appoint its own personnel. Such personnel are administered and controlled by the local authority and not transferable to any other unit.
- The Unified Personnel System: Under this system, all or some local bodies form a single career service for the entire state, from which officers and other employees are posted in various units and are also transferable within the state. The service is administered by the state government.
- The Integrated Personnel System: Under this pattern, personnel of the local bodies and those of the state government form a part of the same service. All or some categories of personnel of the local bodies may be drawn from this service. The local civil service is absorbed into the state civil service. The state government can transfer them from the urban body to other departments.
In India, all the three systems operate in various states. The separate personnel system is found in West Bengal and Gujarat, where the urban units themselves appoint their personnel. The unified personnel system operates in several states. Such states have constituted municipal services from which the drawn administrative and technical personnel posted in the local bodies. This system operates in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc. The integrated personnel system operates in almost all the states, though in a limited form. For instance, the Municipal Commissioner in a corporation or the Secretary of an improvement trust are almost always members of the Indian Administrative Service or of the state service. Other senior positions, both administrative and technical, are also filled by senior officers of the state service. Some may, however, belong to the municipal service or may be deputed from other services to the local bodies.
As regards recruitment, the method depends on the personnel system adopted. For instance, in Rajasthan, a mixed system obtains. Accordingly, for certain posts, there is direct recruitment on the basis of examinations conducted by the Rajasthan Public Service Commission or the Rajasthan Municipal Service Selection Board. Certain posts are filled by promotion, for which purpose, a selection commission is set up. Some officers are deputed by the state government to these bodies. The lower grade personnel are directly recruited by the urban bodies according to the procedures specified.
Training is an urgent necessity to broaden the horizons of the municipal personnel and make them more responsive. Training at the induction level and in-service training are provided in areas relating to municipal management, taxation, finance, functional areas, urban services, planning, housing, poverty alleviation etc.
Coming to the subject of transfer, urban bodes have not been able to formulate any rational policy so far. In the case of the separate personnel system, there are no transfers outside the local body. However, in states where the other two systems are in practice, the municipal bodies particularly municipal corporations and municipalities are witness to large scale or mass transfers. There is an undue rat race to get a transfer of one’s choice.
As regards salary and other service benefits, the officers deputed to the urban bodes from the IAS or the state civil service, continue to draw their pay in the scale in which they are working. The urban body has no say in altering the pay scale. In case of provincial municipal service, its members draw their salary according to the fixed pay scales.
Officers deputed by the central and state governments are under the disciplinary control of the respective governments as also the officers of the provincial municipal service. Lower grade personnel are under the control of the local body, but according to the rules framed in this regard by the state government.
URBAN LOCAL FINANCE
Generally, the urban bodies prepare their budgets in forms prescribed by the state government. The urban bodies have to submit their respective budgets to the state government for its approval before February each year. After its approval, the state government returns the budget proposals to the local bodies by the end of March. This practice has been criticized on the ground that the state government has only a month’s time at its disposal, because of which, the budget estimates are passed in a routine manner. And, till the budget is returned to the urban bodies, they have to manage on meager funds.
The sources of income of the municipal bodies are four. They are:
- (1)LOCAL TAXES:Taxes are the major source of income of municipal bodies. The local taxes constitute about two-third of the revenue collected by the urban bodies. These taxes are octroi, property tax, profession tax, entertainment tax, advertisement tax, animal tax, market tax, water tax, pilgrim tax, toll on new bridges, lighting tax etc. Until recently, the octroi tax was the most important source of local revenue, accounting for about one-fourth of the total tax revenue of all local bodies in the country. However, this tax suffers from serious drawbacks. The tax is collected by sealing the town boundaries by setting up several check-posts. So, the cost of collection sometimes exceeds the collection. It interferes with the free flow of trade and traffic and breeds corruption among the lower staff. There is a demand to abolish this tax throughout Indian and several states have already accepted this demand. The only problem is finding viable alternatives to this mode of taxation.
- (2)NON –TAX REVENUE: This consists of receipts from fees and fines, income from remunerative enterprises and miscellaneous sources. Income from remunerative enterprises means income derived from leasing out exhibition grounds, market-places etc.
- (3)GRANTS-IN-AID: The state government gives grants-in-aid from time to time to urban bodies in case of a deficit budget, natural calamity or when it assigns new functions to them, depending on the availability of funds with the state government. They are ad hoc and discretionary in nature.
- (4)LOANS: Lack of resources of urban bodies often make them apply for loan from the state government. Their borrowing powers are defined in the Municipal Act itself. All proposals relating to loans have to be cleared by the Reserve Bank of India. The state government charges interest on this sum and also demands its recovery within a fixed time limit.
Municipal bodies are required to maintain accounts in the form and manner as prescribed by the state government and to follow the Accounts Code which describes the duties of the officials connected with the financial transactions. Accounting reflects the sources of revenue, the arrears and the expenditure. Audit of the urban bodies is generally conducted by the Examiner, Local Fund Accounts. It can be in the form of either pre-audit or post-audit. In pre-audit, the auditors examine whether the expenditure that is going to take place in terms of payment etc. is valid or not. The purpose is to check mistakes before they actually happen. Post – audit is the audit conducted after the expenditure has been incurred.
CONTROL OVER URBAN LOCAL BODIES
The state government, through certain control mechanisms, continuously supervises the functioning of the local bodies. These are as follows:
All the urban bodies, with the exception of the cantonment boards, are established vide legislations enacted by the state legislature by the notifications of the state government. These statutes or notifications prescribe the composition and functioning of the urban bodies. Besides, the state government, through further legislations, can change their boundaries, determine the size and number of the wards and can even dissolve them. The minister for urban affairs/bodies can be questioned in the state legislature on various aspects of municipal administration. The members of the legislature can also bring affairs related to urban bodies to the notice of the government through call attention motions, adjournment motions etc.
Administrative control over urban bodies is exercised in the following ways: (1) The state government has the power to approve bye-laws and rules framed by the municipal bodies and to annual their relations, if they exceed their limits. (2) The personnel of the urban bodies are under the control of the state government for their appointment, transfers, conditions of service, disciplinary action etc. (3) it can conduct inspections of the urban bodies and issue suitable directions to them. (4) the urban bodies have to submit periodic reports to the state government on their functioning. (5) If a municipal body fails to discharge its duties within the fixed time, the state government can get that work done on its own but expenditure for which, will be borne by the urban body. This is known as the default power of the state government. (6) An appeal against the unjust and arbitrary behaviour of a municipal body can be made to the state government. (7) The state government can dissolve a local body. Earlier, it could be done at the discretion of the state government and, after dissolution, elections would not be held for as long as a decade sometimes. The Constitution 74th Amendment Act seeks to improve the situation. It states that, if the state government decides to dissolve a municipal body before the expiration of the fixed period of five years, then before the dissolution, the government will give to the municipality a reasonable opportunity for being heard. Elections for constituting a new municipality will have to be completed within a period of six months. This means that the municipal body can remain dissolved for a period of six months only. A municipality so constituted after dissolution will continue only for the remainder of the period for which the dissolved municipality would have continued had it not been dissolved. These provisions will hopefully ensure that municipalities are not dissolved arbitrarily. After the 74th Amendment Act the state legislatures will not have the power to make amendments in any law which can result in supersession or dissolution of any municipality, before the expiration of its normal term of five years. This is also a security against arbitrary action by the state government.
If a common citizen feels that a municipal body has acted unjustly causing him undue harm, or if his rights have been violated by a local body, he can appeal to the relevant court. The court provides him several remedies through which he can force a local body not to act in a manner that may cause harm to him or to perform duties that it should have lawfully performed. Some such remedies are the writs of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Quo Warranto etc. If the citizen has been wrongly harmed, the court may instruct the urban body to pay compensation. However, the judicial procedure is lengthy and costly and the acts of such bodies prohibit judicial interference in certain cases.
Municipal bodies are required to prepare their budgets in the forms prescribed by the state government and the approval of the state government is also required, if money has to be reappropriated from one head to another. The state government also regulates the sources of income of these bodies. These bodies can levy, modify or abolish the taxes only with the approval of the state government. When the state government gives them grants-in-aid, it sees to it that the grants are properly utilized. It also ensures that the loan amount given to these bodies are recovered on schedule. The state government regulates municipal expenditure by laying down rules and regulations for incurring expenditure. The form and manner in which accounts have to be maintained and financial transactions carried out are also determined by the state government. To ensure that there is no irregularity in the financial transactions, the state government gets their accounts audited by the Examiner, Local Fund Accounts.
PLANNING FOR URBAN AND RURAL LOCAL GOVERNMENTS
Planning and allocation of resources, at the district level, for the Panchayati Raj institutions, are normally to be done by the Zila Parishad, and in the urban areas, the municipal bodies discharge these functions within their jurisdiction. However, the need to take an overall view with regard to development of the district as a whole and decide on allocations of investments between the urban and rural institutions was constantly felt. The Constitution 74th Amendment Act makes provision for the constitution of a planning committee at the district level with a view to consolidate the plans prepared by the Panchayats and the municipalities and prepare a development plan for the district as a whole.
THE DISTRICT PLANNING COMMITTEE (DPC)
In order to impart a democratic character to this committee, it is laid down that not less than four-fifths of the total number of members of these committees should be elected from amongst the members of the Panchayats at the district level and of the municipalities in the district in proportion to the ratio between the urban and the rural populations in the district. All other details, regarding the composition, have been left to the state legislatures.
The DPC, in preparing the Draft Development Plan, keeps in view the following:
- Matters of common interest between the Panchayats and the municipalities including spatial planning;
- Sharing of water and other physical and natural resources;
- Integrated development
- Extent and type of available resources, whether financial or otherwise.
The plan so prepared by the DPC is to be sent to the state government by the committee.
METROPOLITAN PLANNING COMMITTEE (MPC)
A metropolitan area encompassed not only the main city corporation but also a number of other local bodies – both urban and rural – surrounding the main city corporation. In order to ensure orderly development of the urbanizing fringe areas, proper development plans of the surrounding towns and villages need to drawn up in association with the plan of the main city. Besides, their development schemes have also to be coordinated. The Constitution 74th Amendment provides that in every metropolitan area (with a population of 10 lakh or more), a Metropolitan Planning Committee is to be constituted for preparing a draft development plan for the metropolitan area as a whole. With a view to imparting it a democratic character, it is laid down that not less than two-thirds of the members of such committees shall be elected by and from amongst the elected members of the municipalities and chairpersons of the Panchayats in the metropolitan area, in proportion to the ratio between the population of the municipalities and the Panchayats in that area.
While preparing the Draft Development Plan, the MPC will take account of the following factors:
- Plans prepared by the municipalities and the Panchayats in the metropolitan area;
- Matters of common interest between the two, including coordinated spatial plans of the area;
- Sharing of water and other physical and natural resources;
- Integrated development
- Overall objectives and priorities set by the Government
- Other available resources, financial and otherwise.
The draft so prepared by the MPC will be forwarded by the chairperson of the committee to the state government.
PLANNED AND WEATHER PROOF URBAN CENTRES
There is a need to focus on improving urban design and planning, making it essential for authorities to undertake vulnerability assessments, demarcate no-development areas and build drainage infrastructure in sync with the natural drainage patterns and topography of the area. Some urban planners are acknowledging the importance of conserving wetlands and ensuring open spaces, but this needs to become the norm rather than the exception.
Built up drainage systems in the existing cities need to be maintained properly: free of obstructions, silt and stagnant sewage. Drains are routinely covered up by ramps in residential areas, or cut off for building roads and flyovers, preventing the evacuation of excess rainwater. To augment the capacity of existing drainage systems, retrofitting measures would be required.
Nemkumar Banthia, a professor of Indian origin living in Canada, has come up with a technology that can be used to make roads that repair themselves. The roads built using this technology last longer and are cheaper to build. They are more sustainable from an environmental perspective too. The roads cost 30 percent less than the standard construction cost, and can last up to 15 years. This is a massive leap from the two year repair cycle most Indian roads suffer from. Apart from Karnataka, discussions are underway to implement the project in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh as well.
US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit to New Delhi was not once but twice derailed by routine monsoon showers, leading him to humorously quip to his IIT Delhi audience, “I don’t know if you came here in boats.” India’s cities are collapsing. The ruralist bias of India’s political economy dictates that while urban India generates a massive proportion of India’s GDP, there is very little investment in them in return. It is worth reminding populist politicians that working cities are in everybody’s interest, including villagers.
The spirit underpinning the 74th constitutional amendment has been ignored by states-decentralisation and more powers from the Centre. Thus India’s economic dynamos Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad have all been crippled by poor or non-existent urban infrastructure. It is shameful that about half the households in India’s start-up capital Bengaluru do not have a sewerage connection or around the same proportion in Mumbai live in slums. Moreover, when projections indicate that urban population will increase by another 200 million in the next 15 years, change cannot be postponed.
From public transport systems and traffic control to managing solid waste disposal and drainage, enormous investment is needed to upgrade skills and resources. An expert group in 2011 estimated urban infrastructure over a 20-year period needed an investment of Rs 39.2 trillion. This is far less than what urban India contributes to the economy annually. A resource crunch, therefore, cannot be an excuse. Unless both Centre and states can find the political will to carry out urban governance reforms, talk about smart cities or Swachh Bharat will remain just idle chatter.
Flooding and disruption have become the new normal for the monsoon season in urban India. Water runoff on paved surfaces is common during rains. Towns and cities have a high proportion of built-up areas, tarmacked and paved surfaces. Paucity of open areas slows the pace at which rainwater percolates to the ground.
Waterlogging during rains is part of the urban experience. However, in the past decade, there has been an increase in urban flood events across the world. Scientists and urban planners say that climate change and increased urbanisation are contributing factors. And that the incidence and intensity of urban floods will escalate. Given the unplanned development and poorly maintained drainage systems, the increased intensity of rain results in higher chances of urban floods in India. But fixing its existing drainage systems will not be enough. India is projected to urbanise rapidly. At the projected compounded annual growth rate of 2.1%, almost 600 million people and a large proportion of assets will be located in urban centres by 2031. Unplanned development of buildings and infrastructure and poor management of urban drainage warning that increased urbanisation would raise the risk of floods by up to three times. The practice of reclaiming wetlands for development, choking avenues of natural drainage, made things worse. This is reflected in the Chennai Corporation's efforts to restore the city's buffer zones.
The Supreme Court recently had to order builders in Bengaluru to push back their projects from the city's lakes and wetlands. Poor drainage makes matters worse. It's not just inadequate capacity but the problem is compounded by poor planning, maintenance and misuse. Since Delhi gets intermittent rains, the city's drains are not cleaned all year around, which is why they are choked. When desilted, the waste is rarely disposed of properly and is often kept along the drain and in time, it ends up back in there. The drain network also carries sewage. Additionally, in many places, the drains have been blocked off or built over.
There is no plan for groundwater percolation. Indian cities show compromised drainage network: houses building ramps over drains, roads built by cutting off drains and drains clogged with solid waste making the already inadequate infrastructure even less effective and resulting in massive flooding, like in Gurgaon, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Efforts at reducing urban floods must begin with the planning process. Authorities must conduct vulnerability assessments, demarcate no-development areas, build urban drainage infrastructure in sync with natural drainage patterns and allow for redundancies. To fix existing conditions in the cities, retrofitting is needed. Providing porous pavements to allow infiltration of water and large tanks to store rainwater is applicable. Our current approach of connecting local drains to larger networks that in turn empty into our rivers is ineffective as conditions currently stand. A far more practical solution would be to short-circuit the drains to local parks that can incorporate bios wales and aquifers, which will affect groundwater percolation very well. It will also have a greater impact on improving the groundwater table.
There are design and technical interventions that have been proposed, but these are rendered meaningless when there is no single cohesive entity to ensure these are deployed and used in an effective manner. The real problem in most of our urban centres is how you deal with the multiplicity of governance structures when tackling a problem that requires a cohesive approach. The lack of cohesion means that every authority approaches the problem from its own perspective and often works at odds with other stakeholders.
A plan to overhaul India's towns and cities will require tackling multiple ownership of land, which is a hurdle to implementing a cohesive vision of an urban centre. We need to start looking at our new smart cities through the lens of urban design as against one of master planning. The land-use concept that underpins our urban centres is that land is divided into multiple ownerships--private and public. There is a need to move to a system of land ownership in urban areas in which the state owns the horizontal plane — that is, roads, pavements, open spaces and city centres — while the vertical plane — that is, built-up infrastructure — can be owned publicly or privately.
There is no single solution. The main cause for flooding in every area is different. Each area needs to be analysed in order to adopt the most effective and optimum retrofitting measure. A sustainable solution will require more than planning and technical intervention. It requires stakeholders to work together urban centres are administered in silos.
MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATION IN INDIA: SOME PROBLEMS AREAS
SCARCITY OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES
Generally, their sources of income are inadequate as compared to their functions. Their chief sources of income are the varied types of taxes. However, most of the income generating taxes are levied by the union and state governments and, the taxes collected by the urban bodies are not sufficient to cover the expenses of the services provided. Though they can impose certain new taxes, the elected members of these urban bodies hesitate in doing so for fear of displeasing their electorate. The administrative machinery, at the disposal of these local bodies, is sufficient and ineffective. The staff, which is often underpaid, indulges in corrupt practices which lead to loss of income. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is the latest municipality in India to run out of funds to pay salaries to its staff. Quite often, failure in collecting taxes leads to accumulation of arrears running into crores of rupees. As a result, many urban bodies are on the brink of bankruptcy. Financial stringency has become the biggest hurdle for almost all municipal bodies on account of the ever-increasing expenditure on establishment which has gone up to about 60 per cent of the income. Virtually no money is available for development work. Municipal committees of many small towns find it difficult even to disburse salaries to their employees on time. Many civic bodies have not been able to provide even the basic civic amenities in the areas which have been included in their jurisdiction during the last couple of decades. With the intention of helping the municipal bodies overcome their financial problems, some states have set up agencies which monitor the performance of municipal bodies and guide them regarding distribution of funds and in other financial areas. For instance, Kerala has setup the Kerala Urban Development Finance Corporation and in Gujarat, the Municipal Finance Board has been created. Such steps can be taken up in other states as well.
With their low capacity and willingness and because of the high political cost involved to generate their own resources through taxation, the municipal bodies’ dependence on higher authorities is substantial.
A larger share of GNP should be routed through municipal government. Unless local government is treated as an important partner in the governmental system, reforms in local finances would be meaningless. The need remains of adopting a strategy of improving the overall management of municipal institutions and, in that process, concentrate on augmenting their financial resources through ingenious means. In this context, Raja J. Chelliah recommends improvement in the municipal planning, so that the needs of the urban sector are effectively dovetailed into the overall national planning process.
There is a great need for larger financial devolution to urban authorities. In the mid 80s, the Planning Commission’s Task Force Group on Financing Urban Development had recommended that a certain percentage of the Central Corporate Income Tax and of the States’ Sales Tax, Profession Tax and Entertainment Tax, be passed on to the urban governments. But, these suggestions do not seem to have been convincing to the central and state governments.
While great stress is laid on augmenting the urban authorities own financial resources, what is generally under-emphasized is that these authorities lack the requisite capacity to utilize their resources properly. Even the administration of local taxes is ineffective. Several studies, conducted in cities such as Kolkata, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Chennai, on the administration of property tax reveal that the collections are often less than fifty per cent. To a great extent, this is on account of the ill-equipped and unmotivated staff in urban government bodies. Chelliah advocates that the hands of urban authorities should be adequately strengthened to mobilize resources, take independent investment decisions and exercise a high degree of self-discipline. And, above all, the city-dwellers should be educated to realize that the urban services cost money and they should pay for them.
The system of municipal financial administration suffers from serious flaws. The system of accounting, as prescribed by the state government, is not followed strictly, leading to embezzlement, leakages and extensive under assessment. In various municipalities, audit objections remain pending for many years and, in some, even audit is not conducted regularly. It is sometimes revealed by audit that the funds borrowed at a high rate of interest lie unutilized. Action is not taken on the audit report on time, with the result that, with the passage of time, no action can be taken.
Delhi’s case has underscored the significance of reforms in financial management of municipalities. The 4,041 cities in India have a population of over 400 million but the revenues of their municipalities are far from adequate. Further, there is no assurance on whether these funds meet the desired outcomes. Therefore, states need to put in place a roadmap for financial self-sufficiency and financial accountability in municipalities.
This would, in turn, require recognizing the city as a distinct unit, and examining both its governance and economy accordingly. Today, credible data at a city-level is unavailable — be it on jobs, investments or tax collections. Secondly, municipalities have access to very few buoyant revenue streams. Where they do, as in the case of property tax, the municipalities have limited or no control over the rates. States need to devolve a reasonable percentage of stamp duties and registration charges on properties back to the cities since growth in the real estate sector is accompanied by service obligations on the part of municipalities. Similarly, thinner revenue streams such as entertainment tax and profession tax need to be given to municipalities. The Union government, too, needs to chip in with measures like removing the cap on profession tax and making all municipal bond issuances tax exempt. More importantly, government land within municipal limits is the single most valuable asset for a city. The Union and state governments as well as the municipalities will have to work together to make an inventory of such land, and draw up a strategy for land value capture that can benefit the municipal exchequer.
Concurrent policy measures are required to ensure that a municipality’s medium-term financial position is sound. In municipalities, only short-term cash flows are measured and managed, and not balance sheets. A state legislation on fiscal responsibility and budget management in municipalities is, therefore, long overdue. Enacting this would protect the financial sustainability of municipalities. States themselves will gain from such a move if they make, at least a part of, the state grants conditional on the adherence of the medium-term fiscal plan. A good beginning would be to mandate audit of annual accounts by empanelled chartered accountants, as is the case in banks and PSUs.
Because of inadequate finances, the local bodies have not been able to fulfill their obligatory functions. As a result, they suffer a constant outcry from the public as well as the government. The most basic necessity, water is not supplied properly, drainage facilities do not cover the entire city, unplanned colonies and slums develop fast, menace of stray cattle on the roads continues, traffic is hazardous, roads are not properly maintained and unsafe buildings are allowed to continue to exist despite the obvious threat to the inmates and the inhabitants of the area. In short, poor sanitation, poor hygiene and shortage of basic necessities make cities unsafe.
EXCESSIVE STATE CONTROL
To ensure proper performance of their functions, the state government exercises legislative, administrative, financial and judicial control. This proves to be more of a curse than a boon, because, instead of providing guidance and support through the control mechanism, the control turns out to be negative, restricting the function of these bodies. Supersession, till 1992, was very arbitrary. Through this tactic the government not only meted out punishment to the elected councilors but to the citizens as well, depriving them of their elected institutions. Now, the Constitution 74th Amendment Act has taken away the power to supersede or suspend the municipal body from the state government. However, the state government can dissolve them. The financial control over the urban bodies has also been so rigid that they have virtually no autonomy left. When the control becomes too oppressive, the relationship of the state government with the urban bodies would naturally be strained.
Nandan Nilekani said in this regard: City level decisions in India are subjected to a multitude of state level checks and balances, for everything from creating new posts to passing the budget and selling property. The very existence of the municipalities has often depended on state goodwill turning them into little more than the vestigial organs of the state body.
POSTPONEMENT OF ELECTIONS
Elections to urban bodies have suffered constant postponement for indefinite lengths of time, for long after the term of an urban body has expired, the state government does not announce fresh elections and extensions are granted to the same body. To those bodies which have been superseded, elections are not held within the stipulated period. The state governments built in allergy for local elections stems from the reason that they become barometers of the political parties standing with the masses. The state government feels it safer and easier to deal with bureaucracy placed at the helm of the civic administration than with the popularly elected councillors and corporators. Municipal bodies which run on a system of graft and patronage cannot stand scrutiny by elected bodies. The Constitution 74th Amendment has prescribed strict conditions in this regard with a view to ensure regularity of elections.
With the provincialization of the municipal services, a lot of earlier defects in personnel management have been mitigated. Yet, the system of recruitment fails to bring in the best men. The need for adequate training of the municipal staff has not received due emphasis. The pay scales are not comparable with those of the state services and promotion opportunities are few. Several vacancies are not filled for years and transfers are affected at the free will of the senior bureaucrats and the government. In the sphere of transfers, corruption, favouritism and nepotism are rampant. In the case of most of the bodies, the state government is empowered to take disciplinary action and the urban body has very little control over its personnel. The municipal bodies have failed to attract qualified and competent personnel. Gujarat is one state where systematic effort have been made with Financial assistance from the World Bank, to study the staffing pattern of the municipal bodies and to assess their training requirements for urban development. The Gujarat Municipal Finance Board has entrusted several training institutes with the responsibility of training municipal personnel. Such measures can be initiated by other states as well.
A critical problem in municipal administration in India arises out of the coexistence of a variety of personnel systems within a single municipal authority, each segment being accountable to different control points within and outside the organisation. At the lower level, one finds, generally, a separate personnel system but, at the higher level, there are ‘deputationalists, integrated and unified personnel systems as well as a separate system of staff of various gradations appointed by authorities at different levels. This makes the municipal organization look an onion in terms of personnel system, each segment rotating on its own path, without enmeshing for a common purpose or motivation.
On the basis of an empirical study of municipal personnel system in Gujarat and Rajasthan, it is observed that the unified personnel system cannot be said to have scored definitely over the separate personnel system. In fact, the base issue is not the type of personnel system but its quality. For too long, the municipal services have been treated as ‘inferior services and, hence, have not attracted ‘superior talent. Therefore, the need is to improve pay scales, allowances, leave conditions, terminal benefits, career prospects, scope of self-improvement and incentives of these personnel in such a manner that competent and motivated personnel enter and stay in the municipal services. One of the devices for effecting these improvements is an innovative system of position classification that can rationalize the pay grades and privileges of the municipal personnel in terms of their duties and responsibilities.
There is an acute shortage of skilled staff in the finance and revenue departments of municipalities. This is a key reason for poor tax collections and weak financial management. A combination of solutions, including skill certifications and outsourcing of collections, etc, would be highly effective.
A few states (for instances, Gujarat and Rajasthan) have instituted new state level municipal services for municipal personnel. The need is to, accord these services the status of state services and provide these personnel working conditions that befit a professional service, otherwise these will remain only secondary choices for the civil service aspirants.
The second Administrative Reforms Commission in its sixth report on “Local Governance – An Inspiring journey into the Future” has recommended that training of elected representatives and personnel should be regarded as a continuous activity. Further, the commission suggested that a pool of experts and specialists (e.g. engineers, planners etc.) could be maintained by a federation/consortium of local bodies. This common pool could be accessed as and when the local bodies need its services.
It is generally commented that the urban bodies have failed to perform their primary duty, that is, to check and problems and complications created by rapid urbanization. The shifting of a vast number of the rural population towards cities has led to several problems such as the unplanned growth of towns and cities and rise of slums. In the absence of proper planning, judicious use of land is not being made, colonies are set up without proper facilities such as schools, parks and hospitals; the growth of slums is not checked there is a shortage of houses, traffic congestion is rampant and hardly any effective steps are taken to check urban poverty and unemployment.
LOW LEVEL OF PARTICIPATION
Due to an acute lack of civic consciousness, public participation in urban bodies has been negligible. The population of the cities consists of heterogeneous groups and they are alienated from one another. Most of the city population was once rural and even now, it looks at the city merely as a place to earn a livelihood, and has little attachment with it. While one understands the reasons behind the low level of participation of the rural population in the management of their politico-administrative institutions, it is difficult to appreciate a similar, if not identical, phenomenon in the urban areas. A perceptible apathy on their part towards participating in the governance system pushes such institutions into a state of complacency and irresponsibility. It is ironical that the urban population has rarely, if ever, raised its voice against cases of prolonged supersession of democratic municipal bodies.
In order to ensure the active participation of citizens, while taking decisions which affect their lives, it may be suggested that citizen’s groups should be set up on the lines of the practice existing in the USA, where “Senior Groups”, “neighborhood Committees” or “Citizens Committees” are set up. In India, people experience a lot of disappointment and inconvenience in obtaining civic amenities. Perhaps, most of them are so used to facing water, electricity and sanitation problems, that they feel that it is futile to look up to the urban bodies for any solution. Lastly, the multiplicity of special purpose agencies and other urban bodies confuse the public about their role boundaries.
In order to enhance people participation, every actions of city government should be supported by an effective policy on transparency, accountability and citizen participation. The public disclosure law under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission was a good beginning in this regard. But it needs to be strengthened further through the addition of built-in incentives and disincentives, as well as the incorporation of open data standards. Greater disclosures will nudge citizens to take ownership of their city.
Poor municipal leadership is yet another factor which has corroded the credibility of the urban bodies. The urban bodies, during their elections, fail to attract men of caliber, as the latter find a berth in State and Union Legislatures – more prestigious and profitable. Besides, the urban bodies have no original powers. They are appendages of the state government and their image is sullied often by charges of corruption and inefficiency. Evils of casteism and communalism are also rampant and all malpractices associated with a general election are present. The system of co-option is also misused. Deserving candidates are rarely co-opted and this weakens the municipal leadership.
The urban leadership also fails to inspire any confidence among the people and, once elected, they hardly visit their wards to learn about the gravity of the problems in their constituencies. Moreover, the urban bodies do not have proper public relations machinery through which the achievements of the urban bodies can be communicated to the people.
Our cities are growing rapidly but the quality of life they offer is steadily deteriorating. State governments have consistently neglected institutional reforms in cities and municipalities, and instead over-emphasised select sectoral project — somewhat analogous to curing multiple organ failure through band-aids. This lack of initiative on systemic reforms in our cities is manifesting itself time and again in the form of municipal crises.
A lot of criticism has been specially targeted at the single purpose agencies. They are all dominated by bureaucrats that go against the basic philosophy of local government. The functions that have been assigned to them belong really to the elected urban bodies. They lower the prestige and significance of the local bodies. The municipal bodies have to contribute to the budget of these agencies while having no control over them. Their functions are often overlapping. For instance, in some states, the function of water supply has been entrusted to the Improvement Trusts as well as municipal bodies. This dual control has diluted the responsibility of each. The ordinary citizen also gets confused when he has to approach these organisations.
The urban governments have been afflicted with diffusion of authority, multiple committee system and tensions between the deliberative and the executive wings. The National Commission on Urbanisation has rightly favoured clear specification of executive and deliberative powers and functions of urban government agencies.
In some large cities, a system of balanced distribution of executive authority between the Mayor and the Commissioner has been introduced. Another experiment in the form of mayor-in-Council system has been introduced in the Calcutta Corporation. This system, designed to strike a balance between the executive and the deliberative authority, is yet to be evaluated fully.
The radical reform of setting up a two-tier city government in large cities was favoured by the Study Group on Constitutions, powers and laws of urban Local Government Bodies and Municipal Corporations as well as the national Commission on Urbanisation. The former recommended the setting up of a metropolitan government above the municipal government, whereas the latter favoured a two-tier city government for settlements with populations above five lakh.
A multiplicity of agencies engaged in urban administration invariably leads to problems of coordination. In a medium-sized town like Jaipur, there are more than thirty government agencies engaged in administering urban development. And, even when an integrated authority, such as the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA), is created, the problem is not overcome entirely. There are always problems of inter linkage among the JDA, Rajasthan Housing Board, Public Health Engineering Department, various state electricity companies, Jaipur Municipal Corporation and so on. Most of the inter agency coordination, therefore, is effected at the level of the Secretary and the minister for urban Development, thus causing centralization and delays in decision-making. Inter-organizational and coordinative mechanisms need to be promoted and used effectively.
There is a clear need to plan the development of towns and cities in a holistic manner. A city should be viewed as an organic whole and, hence, development of all parts should be undertaken in an integrated and balanced manner. The incessant pressure of increasing population, caused mostly by migration from rural to urban areas, needs to be met by a planned strategy for urban development. Accordingly, regional economics and spatial planning needs to be integrated with the overall urban governance. Urban development should be viewed as an integral part of the total development process. It requires a creative vision that is futuristic and one that is open to adaptation in structures, approaches and styles.
PREVIOUS YEARS’ QUESTIONS
- “Municipal governance in India is not sufficiently prepared to meet the challenges of frequent natural disasters.” Elucidate the statement and add your own suggestions. (2015)
- How do the Union Government policies on Smart and AMRUT Cities address the problems of management of urban development? Explain. (2015)
- Explain the notion of one hundred ‘smart cities’ and its likely impact on India’s urbanization. (2014)
- The13th Finance Commission highlighted an indispensable need to improve the finances of rural and urban level bodies. Does this make local bodies more accountable in the discharge of their functions? (2014)
- Examine the institutional vulnerability of municipal governance in the midst of an emerging spectre of multiple partnerships. (2011)
- “The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM) is one of the biggest reforms–linked development programmes taken up by the Government”. Comment. (2010)
- "Sound municipal governance requires a cadre of specialized municipal services executives equal in status to State Services." Comment. (2009)
- In urban governance, uni-functional agencies and development authorities create a “functional jungle”. Explain. (2008)
- Discuss the urban anti-poverty programmes launched in recent times to ameliorate the poverty situation in our urban areas. (1994)
- "It is time to rationalise urban bodies in matters of size and distribution of functions with a regional authority taking an overall charge of area-wide problems." Comment.(1993)
- 'The State Governments now have little alternative but to accept autonomy, innovation and political directions by representative bodies in Urban Local Government.' Comment. (1992)
- 'The mega growth of urban areas unaccompanied by matching urban government reforms in which the ruralised State Governments are least interested, have left urban governance in India neither autonomous nor effective.' Comment. (1991)