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POLICY REPORT NO. 10

Crisis of Urban Governance in India

| Photo Credit: Ranganathan Chellappa

India’s urbanisation process has laid bare the crisis, or rather absence of urban governance. This report explains how India’s urban local bodies, which are democratic institutions conceived to be closest to the citizens, have been rendered inefficient by the governments at the Centre and the States. The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act meant to devolve power to urban local bodies was merely a cosmetic exercise which did not bring about any changes in the way our municipalities were governed. States continue to have overriding powers and accountability structures in urban areas are weak. Devoid of power — legal, financial and administrative — urban local bodies merely remain a tool of party politics at the grass-root level.

In the light of rapid urbanisation, the report states that it is pertinent to go beyond the existing laws and enact mandatory provisions that would give real powers to urban local bodies, with the conviction of making the country a genuine democracy. At a practical level, the report suggests that the policy makers have to think of what is doable if revolutionary changes are not possible.

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