Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu today pitched for more powers to Urban Local Bodies to help them tide over their poor financial condition. At present, 11 states have transferred all 18 stipulated functions to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) while only four have transferred all powers except fire services, Naidu, who holds the charge of Urban Development Ministry, said, adding other states have done in parts.
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Under 74th Amendment to the Constitution in 1992, states were required to amend their municipal laws to empower ULBs with “such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self-governance”. Naidu said it was “deeply disturbing” that cities like Jaipur, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Ludhinana, Patna and Ranchi are not able to even meet salary bills from their own resources.
The Minister said ULBs do not have powers to collect taxes and user charges beyond the levels stipulated in municipal laws and also cannot impose additional taxes. “The need of the hour is to free urban local bodies from strangulation by the state governments. This is the only way forward to improve the health of ULBs besides making them accountable for the mandate of efficient delivery of municipal services given to them under the 74th Constitution Amendment,” he said.
Naidu was addressing an event marked to present ‘V Ramachandran Awards for Excellence in Urban Decentralisation’ by not-for-profit institution Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy (JCCD). Delhi bagged two awards – ‘Making School Management Committees Effective’ and ‘Enabling Citizen Participation through Mohalla Sabhas.
Tamil Nadu bagged four awards, including one for ’50 per cent reservation for wowen in ULBs’. Other states who bagged the awards under different categories included Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal were also present on the occasion.