‘Empower local bodies to tackle surge in urban population '

Key Details

Janaagraha – a non-profit that specializes in urban policy-making opines that in the next 35 years India’s urban population is likely to increase to 800 million from 400 million and to manage that population and achieve desirable socio-economic progress an effective policy-making and systemic reforms is required.

Janaagraha Annual Survey Study

  • The government should devote time to strengthen institutions like municipalities and urban local bodies and abstain from managing the cities.
  • The scale of surge in urban population have been consistently underestimated.
  • A policy overhaul is required, empower mayors and commissioners, India’s economic growth will be impacted because cities are the country’s growth engines.
  • Smart City Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), these schemes claim to empower municipalities and hence they will not be capable of bridging the (country’s) urban infrastructure gap.
  • All Indian cities fare badly with a score ranging between 2 and 4, compared to benchmark cities London and New York, which have a score of 10.
  • The study suggests that financial instability, frequent administrative reshuffles, inadequate human resources, high budget variance, poor track record of generating and releasing data are the main factors that hamper India’s urban progress.
  • Since 40 per cent of municipal posts are vacant in most States, it was hard to imagine mayors and commissioners formulating meaningful urban plans. The poor expertise at municipality level also discouraged private investors.
  • To manage the relationship between investments and outcome, systems are needed to track where the money is going. With today’s technology, it is easy to geo-code projects at a city level and figure out where the money is being spent.
  • With that level of transparency, the Central and State money could be spent effectively, which could also attract private investors toward municipal projects.

However, all these would be possible, if the State governments amended the Municipal Corporation Act and empowered urban local bodies.

A three-year back estimation suggestions

India will need a trillion dollars, that’s about Rs 40 lakh crore, to fund the urban infrastructure deficit over 20 years adding that Smart City Mission and AMRUT only add a “few thousand crores” to urban planning.

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