Mains- Answer writing practice: Urban Governance #165

Mains- Answer writing practice: Urban Governance

What are the key challenges with respect to urban governance in India? (200 words)

Model Answer

By 2050, urban population will increase to 50%. The increasing urban population puts massive strain on infrastructure and services available in the cities. Such infrastructure and services can only be ensured through modern urban governance.

However, the current urban governance in India is plagued by certain constraints, such as:
Absence of a modern spatial planning framework, public utility design standards and land titling in cities. This takes a huge toll on economic growth and productivity, environmental sustainability and living conditions in cities.
Lack of human resource capacities (in terms of staffs and their skills), especially in urban local bodies (ULBs).
Poor state of municipal finances because of narrow, inflexible and non-buoyant tax base, broken financial accounting and audit systems, and the inability of municipalities to levy and recover taxes and user charges.
Multiple institutions like parastatals, development authorities, public works departments, and ULBs with overlapping responsibilities. This leads to inefficient use of limited resources and diffusion of accountability.
The distribution of power between elected officials at the city level (mayors and councilors) and central administrative service cadres at the city/district levels are highly tilted towards the latter. This has meant that 74th Constitutional Amendment (CAA) to decentralise urban governance has not translated into reality, affecting citizen participation in cities.

This migration trend needs to be reversed by making inhabitation in rural areas attractive through strategies such as PURA (Providing Urban Amenities to
Rural areas). Also, there is need to implement projects like SMART city, which are aiming to transform the urban landscape, more robustly and effectively.

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