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Challenges in Urban Planning for local bodies in India

D.P. Tiwari
I.A.S., Commissioner & Director
Town & Country Planning, M.P. Bhopal - 462016, India
Tel + 755 – 427091, FAX + 91-755-427097
Email : tcp_bpl@sancharnet.in


Introduction
The urban population of India has rapidly increased in recent years. In 1961 about 79 million persons lived in urban areas of the country, by 2001, their number had gone up to over 285 million, an increase of over 350 percent in the last four decades, which will increase to over 400 million by the year 2011 and 533 million by the year 2021. In 1991 there were 23 metropolitan cities, which have increased to 35 in 2001. As a result, most urban settlements are characterized by shortfalls in housing and water supply, inadequate sewerage, traffic congestion, pollution, poverty and social unrest making urban governance a difficult task.

Census Total Population(Million) Urban Population(Million) % of Urban populationto total Population Decadal Urban growth rate(Percent)
1951 361.08 62.44 17.29 -
1961 439.23 78.93 17.97 26.41
1971 548.15 109.11 19.91 38.24
1981 683.32 159.46 23.34 46.15
1991 846.30 217.61 25.71 36.47
2001 1027.01 285.00 27.78 36.47

Urban Local Bodies [ULBs] which are statutorily responsible for provision and maintenance of basic infrastructure and services in cities and towns are under fiscal stress. To even operate and maintain existing services, let alone augment them, would be difficult. There has been little or no increase in their revenue base; user charges continue to be low or non-existent. Faced with such a situation the ULBs barring a few exceptions are becoming increasingly dependent on the higher levels of government for their operation and maintenance requirements. What is worse, many ULBs have accumulated ‘large’ debts and face serious problems in servicing them. Besides the restriction to a small resource base poor planning process, lack of periodical revision of municipal tax rates / user charges, and poor information system and records management are some of the basic weaknesses in the present municipal administration.

According to Census of India 1991, there are 3255 ULBs in the country classified into four major categories of municipal corporations, municipalities (Municipal council, municipal board, municipal committee), town area committees and notified area committees.

State/ Union Territory Municipal CorpoRation Municipal Council Municipal Committee Munici-pal Board Munici-pality Town Commi ttee/ Township/town area commiTtee Town Nagar Panchayat Notified area Total
Andhra Pradesh 3 - - - 109 - 141 2 255
Assam 1 - - 24 - 49 - - 74
Bihar 6 - - - 70 - - 92 168
Goa - 13 - - - - - - 13
Gujrat 6 - - - 62 - 100 10 178
Haryana - - 81 - - - - - 81
Himachal Pradesh 1 - 19 - - - - 30 50
Karnataka 6 - 20 - - 136 - 14 176
Kerala 3 - - - 61 2 - - 66
Madhya Pradesh - - 17 - 357 - - 7 381
Maharashtra 11 - - - 227 - - - 238
Orissa - - - - 30 - - 72 102
Punjab 3 - 95 - - - - 11 109
Rajasthan - 19 - - 168 - - 5 192
Tamil Nadu 3 - - - 98 8 212 - 321
Uttar Pradesh 8 - - 228 - 418 - 33 687
West Bengal 3 - - - 95 - - 10 108
Delhi 1 - 1 - - - - - 2
Andaman & Nicobar Islands - - - 1 - - - - 1
Chandigarh - - - - - - - 1 1
Pondicherry - - - - 4 - - - 4
Manipur - - - - 7 - - 21 28
Meghalaya - - - - 1 - - - 1
Sikkim - - - - - 7 - - 7
Tripura - - - - 1 - - - 1
Total 55 32 233 253 1290 620 453 319 3255

The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA74) has been flaunted as an initiative to decentralize power and strengthen democracy at local level. The CAA74 accords constitutional status to urban local bodies (ULBs) and prescribes a near uniform local governance structure valid across the country. It provides a framework for electing local-level governments and for their ‘effective’ functioning to ensure provision of urban services and infrastructure. It also provides urban local bodies with political, functional and fiscal empowement for good governance.

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