In charts: Why cities in India fail on quality of life | Mint
Active Stocks
Fri Feb 23 2024 15:58:13
  1. Tata Steel share price
  2. 145.50 -0.24%
  1. State Bank Of India share price
  2. 759.40 -0.86%
  1. HDFC Bank share price
  2. 1,420.90 0.08%
  1. NTPC share price
  2. 337.70 -0.54%
  1. ITC share price
  2. 411.60 -0.65%
Business News/ Specials / In charts: Why cities in India fail on quality of life
BackBack

In charts: Why cities in India fail on quality of life

At least 39% of India’s capital cities lack active spatial plans, and only nine have plans for all key urban needs, an analysis by Janaagraha found. Mayors hardly have the powers they need to make the systems work, and enough civic data isn’t available for citizens to ask questions.

The slow pace of city systems' reforms, the lack of administrative autonomy at the city level, and reliance on policies framed by the Centre rather than states, have hampered systemic reforms. (File Photo: AFP)Premium
The slow pace of city systems' reforms, the lack of administrative autonomy at the city level, and reliance on policies framed by the Centre rather than states, have hampered systemic reforms. (File Photo: AFP)

Fuelled by migration and development, the demography of Indian cities is constantly changing, making it challenging—but vital—to build systems that work. A new report on “city systems" by Janaagraha, a Bengaluru-based non-profit, has shed light on the systemic gaps in India’s urban governance that make reforms sluggish and quality of life substandard. For instance, municipal bodies rarely move laws to reform themselves: just 5% of the amendments ever made to city-level laws related to this aspect, with the rest mainly dwelling on everyday finances and elections. The report is a study of all 82 municipal legislations in India conducted between December 2021 and December 2022. Mint explains the highlights.

Planning paucity

Burgeoning cities need robust long-term plans to prepare quality services and sustainable infrastructure for everyone. But at least 39% of India’s capital cities lack active spatial plans, the study found. Only nine have plans for all key urban needs. The problem was acute in smaller cities. No state has mandated street design standards for city roads or has a provision to prevent the approval of projects violating their plans. Few have ways to penalize violations. “Metropolitan planning committees", envisaged for million-plus cities, are either non-existent or dysfunctional.

Reform roadblocks

The slow pace of city systems' reforms, the lack of administrative autonomy at the city level, and reliance on policies framed by the Centre rather than states, have hampered systemic reforms, the report said. Most small cities lack the power to approve their own budget, while few mega cities have mayors with tenures long enough to make a difference. A short tenure makes the mayor largely “ceremonial and inconsequential", the report said. Poor pay and vacancies are also a problem, but councils “virtually have no power" over their staff, which the report said restricts their ability to build a strong, accountable organization.

Information silos

Only 11 states and Union territories have mandated public disclosure of key civic data. The format also matters, but no state has a provision for such data to be in a format that makes it possible to be analyzed and aggregated. Mega cities (population more than 4 million) and “large" ones (population of 1–4 million) have better financial transparency, but only relatively. Only 28% of the cities in the study had released their annual audited financial statements and 66% had released their city budget by 31 July 2023, the report said. Cities on average have a budget variance (difference between budgeted and actual figures) of 43% in receipts and 45% in expenditure.

Unlock a world of Benefits! From insightful newsletters to real-time stock tracking, breaking news and a personalized newsfeed – it's all here, just a click away! Login Now!

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Check all the latest action on Budget 2024 here. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less
Published: 21 Oct 2023, 11:18 AM IST
Next Story footLogo
Recommended For You
Switch to the Mint app for fast and personalized news - Get App