Challenges of Governance at Municipal Ward level For Provision of Urban Basic Services

Posted: July 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

By: Onkar Mittal

Decentralization of urban governance

The most often quoted definition of democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. The middle component of this definition is always missing. The institution of local governance in the form of 73rd and 74th CAA was intended to restore this in the municipal wards and the villages of the country. The progress in last 20 years in this direction has been slow.

Diversity of urban settlement patterns

The unplanned urbanization/urban sprawl in our megacities create and compound the problems of provision of basic urban services like water, sanitation, drainage, primary education and primary health care ( see annex-1 for list of urban basic services) . In city of Delhi the planned city areas are intermixed  with unplanned areas of various kinds like Jhuggie jhoprie or JJ clusters, walled city multi-dwelling apartments called  katras, JJ resettlement colonies, unauthorized or illegal colonies and urbanized villages ( see annex-2 for details) . Each of these areas are slum like neighborhoods and the challenges and solutions for the provision of urban basic services are peculiar and unique to each kind of settlement. Contiguous to these you will find the planned cities with reasonably good civil infrastructure and provision of basic services.

Multiplicity of authorities

For addressing the problems of slum settlements, the Slum Department in Delhi has been in existence almost for last sixty years but with varying mandate and under varying authorities. Sometimes it has been placed under DDA and sometimes under MCD. Presently Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board has been constituted and Delhi government exercises authority over it. It has limited mandate over JJ clusters and katras and other major slum settlements like illegal colonies, JJ resettlement colonies and urbanized villages are not within its ambit.

Therefore we have the unique situation where neither at the municipal ward level nor at the city level, we have a single nodal point or authority which is addressing the infrastructure provision and maintenance for urban basic services in the underserved settlements. This creates a unique challenge for inclusive and equitable urban planning in the capital city of Delhi.

Ward level planning and financial allocations

Need a ward level planning framework where citizens can come together in participatory forums to make their choices for investment decisions by the city authorities and play their role in maintenance of infrastructure and services already provided by the city has been felt for a long time. The 74th CAA made a provision for constitution of ward committees in the urban areas, though no specific functions were assigned to these. This needs to be carried further. ( see annex-3 for the recommendations of the 2nd Administrative reform commission in this regard)  . The government

The allocations are being made through MLA funds and councilor funds for provision of needs based infrastructure and maintenance of services at the local level. ( see annex-4). Some of the civil society organizations have raised the voices over appropriate utilization of these funds. There is a need to activate citizen;s committees at the ward level to take decisions in participatory fashion for use of these local funds.

Mismatch between investment in infrastructure and actual needs

In addition the BUSP funds made available from JNNRUM should be filtered through a smilar planning process at the local level to make best and most appropriate utilization. Without such institutional mechanism being in place, a unique situation has been created where the investment of nearly 3000 crore in housing schemes under the JNNRUM does not meet the spirit of the guidelines of the BUSP . It is used as a mechanism to push the urban poor to the city periphery in distant locations away from their work, without addressing the issues of tenure security, infrastructure improvement and service provision at the place where they currently stay and work.

Status of access to basic services by the urban poor / slum settlements

Emerging from such institutional mismatch, the people living in urban poor settlements face myriads of problems:

  1. Lack of supply of drinking water and people forced to purchase drinking water at great cost
  2. Insanitary conditions and lack of drainage creating severe difficulties in rainy season
  3. Poor housing conditions
  4. Lack of access to educational and health facilities
  5. Traffic congestion and lack of public transport
  6. A feeling of being discriminated against amongst the dalit and muslim community

One day Consultation :

Saturday,  20 July 2013


5th Floor, SPWD

14 Vishnu Digambar Marg, New Delhi

Near Balbhavan –Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg- ITO



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