Believe it or not, as per the Economic Survey 2015-16, Pune ranks second in terms of providing basic services to its citizens and has managed its funds better than bigger cities like Mumbai and Chennai. However the city, the survey states, has not fared well in terms of transparency, with cities like Mumbai, Kanpur, Bhopal scoring much better than Pune. The survey had devoted a whole chapter on analysing and studying urban local bodies. Titled “From Competitive Federalism to Competitive Sub Federalism: Cities as dynamos”, the chapter measures efforts being taken by the urban local bodies to cope up with challenges before them. Urban India, the report said, now houses 1/3rd of the country’s population and produces 3/5th of the country’s GDP.
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Municipal corporations, municipalities and nagar panchayats were also included in the study. Poor governance capacities, large infrastructure deficits and inadequate finances were the three main problems plaguing majority of the urban local bodies, found the study.
Using the data provided by Bengaluru-based Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and the 2011 census, the survey had ranked more than 20 urban local bodies of four basic parametres viz provision of basic services, degree of transparency/accountability, ability to raise funds for their expenditure and capital expenditure per capita. Access to treated tap water, connection to piped sewer system, accessibility to public toilets and waste water outlet connected to closed drainage were the four services used to rank the cities.
Pune ranked second in terms of availability of the services, while it stood first in terms of its ability to raise capital for its own expenditure. Ability to raise funds has helped Pune to have more staff in its urban local body and better services. “A clear conclusion is that more resources seem to be associated with better outcomes “ the report said. The city did not fare very well in transparency and it was ranked behind cities like Bhopal, Mumbai, Hyderabad among others.
The report comes at a time when Pune is in the throes of civic elections. Lack of civic amenities have been used as a major stick by the opposition to beat up the ruling NCP-Congress during the campaign. Also, the civic body has been under fire from many fronts for its inability to provide basic services to its residents. To cite just an example, the Environmental Status Report (ESR) states that almost 30 per cent of the city’s sewage is released into the rivers untreated.
Civic activist Vivek Velankar said such reports fail to conduct ground truthing of the data. “Figures do not show the real picture and those sitting in ivory towers fail to realise this,” he said.