Twenty-seven years after the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act was passed in 1992 aimed at strengthening democracy at the grassroots level through local bodies, no state has managed to devolve 18 municipal functions to urban local bodies, according to a report by the Praja Foundation, ‘Urban Governance Index, 2020’.
In the study which spanned over three years (2017-2020) in 40 cities across 28 states and National Capital Territory of Delhi, Praja looked at the structural empowerment of the city governments by respective state governments. From Maharashtra, Mumbai and Pimpri Chinchwad were part of the 40 cities.
As no state has devolved all the municipal functions, the municipal bodies are dependent on the state for funds and decision-making. Some of these 18 functions include solid waste management, water supply, slum improvement and upgradation, promotion of education among others.
Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja Foundation, said, “There have been many urban governance schemes, policies and various global and national level indices over the years. However, the majority of the schemes and indices have focused predominantly on the aspect of mapping the performance/delivery of urban services. But what we require are changes in the ‘enabler’ i.e., core reforms in the structure of city governments and long-term management of our cities.”
Odisha ranked first in the Urban Governance Index, while Maharashtra ranked second, followed by Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. The index ranked the states on a 100-point scale across 42 indicators under four heads: empowered elected representatives and legislative structure (30 marks), empowered city administration (15), citizens (25) and fiscal empowerment (30 marks). The study which formed the basis of the index included 1,568 interviews held with the city’s elected representatives, city administrators and city-based civil society organisations.
“The study was conducted mainly from the perspective of mapping the status of urban reforms in individual states. Later, it was realised that we need to make a broader national level comparison matrix to track the implementations of reforms by individual states. Therefore, this led to the quantification of the findings from the state-level urban governance studies and finally culminated into the Urban Governance Index (UGI),” said Milind Mhaske, director, Praja Foundation.
The report found that Odisha and Maharashtra have the most accessible open data portal. Madhya Pradesh ranked first for active grievance redressal mechanism. Maharashtra and Kerala ranked first for devolution of financial power and financial accountability.
Praja Foundation is working in the field of accountability in governance. This is their first Urban Governance Index. The foundation has brought out elected representatives’ report cards since 2011 starting from Mumbai and since then has published 22 reports on the state of policing, health infrastructure in Mumbai and Delhi.
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