URBAN LOCAL BODIES
Explain major challenges to functioning of Urban local bodies suggesting a way forward. (250 Words)
INTRODUCTION : A short introduction to Urban local bodies
- Explain Role of Urban local bodies
- Discuss the key challenges that hinder the efficient functioning of the Urban Local Governments
Mention a way forward
Urban Local Bodies are minor local government entities that administer or rule a city or town with a defined population.
- To act as self-governing local units.
- To provide open administrations and accommodations for healthy living, work, and play in the community.
- To ensure that metropolitan areas are developed in a planned and guided manner.
- To prepare assets in the area.
- To make a concerted effort to improve social, economic, and cultural conditions.
- Delegation of powers: Most state governments have not delegated power to urban local authorities, so ULBs have not been able to effectively carry out their functions.
- Ineffective leadership: Mayors and councilors use their positions for their political careers rather than being agents of change for desired urban reforms.
- Creation of parastatal agencies: Parastatal agencies such as urban development authorities and state-owned enterprises are accountable only to state governments and not to local governments.
- Lack of funds: The first and most serious problem facing urban local communities is lack of funding. Municipal committees in many small towns also have difficulty paying salaries to their employees on time.
- Corruption: the administrative mechanisms available to these local authorities are insufficient Often underpaid staff engage in corrupt practices which have resulted in loss of income.
- Limited capacity: Even though municipal bodies receive funds, they do not just not have the ability to function effectively. Most of the funds paid to ULBs are restricted funds.
- The city governments do not collect enough revenue.
- Even if finances are received, local bodies lack the capacity to perform properly. The majority of the funds allocated to ULBs are tethered funds.
- According to the 2018 Economic Survey, municipalities are not utilising property tax to its maximum potential.
- Not Enough Power: Most state governments have not delegated power to Urban Local Bodies, as a result of this they have been unable to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
- Postponed Elections: Elections to municipal authorities have been repeatedly postponed for indeterminate periods of time. Elections to urban local bodies have been postponed in several states for years, thwarting the purpose of decentralised governance.
- Lack of coordination: Several agencies are working in the city to meet municipal demands, although they rarely work together.
- Municipalities in India lack the management capacity to both plan and execute economic activities. The recruitment mechanism fails to attract the top men. Several positions have been vacant for years, and transfers are made at the discretion of top bureaucrats and the government.
- Constitutional reforms are required.
- Must be regularized
- Should not be postponed for more than six months in most cases.
- Asset managements
- To fund city development, successful PPP programmes should be developed at both the state and local levels. The government's role should be to provide an enabling environment in order to increase and deepen private sector infrastructure investments.
- Depending on the level of urbanisation in each state, reform-related investments should be encouraged.
- Asset development and management of ULBs should be prioritised.
- The government must collaborate at multiple levels in order to carry out diverse programmes.
- The development programmes should be prioritised by the local governments.
- Any megaproject that is planned must take into account the opinions of all stakeholders.
- Improved land use planning could aid in the development of reliable public urban transportation.
- To establish sustainable cities or metropolitan regions, it is critical to combine multiple urban development and related initiatives at the municipal, state, and national levels. Institutions in the city should be strengthened, and the duties of various organisations should be defined.
- Greater autonomy: Local governments in cities should be allowed more autonomy. India must adopt a decentralised approach that empowers local governments in cities. Municipalities should have more autonomy in their operations in order to provide better service.
- Governance Reforms: As a catalyst for change, governance reform is required. The government may explore adopting a similar classification of urban entities across the country in order to facilitate a more systematic planning process and fund distribution. Metropolitan areas should be classified as areas with a population of more than 10 lakh people.