Friday, 11 May 2018

DEMOCRATIC DECENTRALIZATION-ROLE OF URBAN LOCAL BODIES IN INDIA

Urban local bodies play a pivotal role in the planning and development of urban areas. The municipalities in India are confronted with a number of challenges, such as issues of bringing efficiency in the conduct of business, ensuring effective participation by the weaker sections of the population in local governance, improving financial condition, ensuring transparency in the planning and implementation of projects.
Cities have to gear up for the rising demands of urbanization and to stay abreast and prepared for National Governments vision for Smart cities, on the other hands cities need to continuously gear up for addressing issues of environmental degradation, air pollution, climate change and increasing frequency of climate induced events and disasters.
In our towns and cities, we have local government institutions that are called Municipalities and Municipal Corporations. An urban area is usually a compact and densely populated area. Municipal administration is necessary to provide basic civic facilities like water supply, drainage, garbage disposal, public health, primary education, construction and maintenance of roads and sanitation.
As local level democratic government, the municipal institutions that are elected by the local people raise taxes and collect fees and fines from the public. They regulate city life by laying down regulations regarding buildings, road network and garbage disposal. There are many developmental activities undertaken by them like women and child development, slums improvement etc. Municipal government has made possible participative urban development and local management of civic facilities.

COMPOSITION
The Municipal bodies are constituted of persons chosen by direct election from the territorial constituencies (known as wards) in the municipal area. However, the Legislature of a State may, by law, provide for the representation in a municipal body of persons having special knowledge or experience of municipal administration, the members of Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha and the members of Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of the State, representing constituencies, which comprise wholly or partly the Municipal Area. The state legislature may also provide the manner of the election of the Chairpersons of a municipality. The state legislature may also provide the manner of the election of the Chairpersons of a municipality.
Empowerment of weaker sections of society and women by reserving seats for such groups is one of the important constitutional provisions of the Constitutional Amendment. The offices of chairperson are also reserved for SC/ST and women.

FUNCTIONS OF URBAN LOCAL BODIES
It is a common practice to divide the organization of a corporation or a municipality into two parts:
(a) Deliberative
The corporation, council or municipal board or council consisting of the elected representatives of the people constitutes the deliberative part. It acts like a legislature.
It discusses and debates on general municipal policies and performance, passes the budget of the urban local body, frames broad policies relating to taxation, resources raising, pricing of services and other aspects of municipal administration.
It keeps an eye on municipal administration and holds the executive accountable for what is done or not done. For instance, if water supply is not being properly managed, or there is an outbreak of an epidemic, the deliberative wing criticizes the role of the administration and suggests measures for improvement.
(b) Executive Part
The executive part of municipal administration is looked after by the municipal officers and other permanent employees. In the corporations, the Municipal Commissioner is the executive head, and all other departmental officers like engineers, finance officers, health officers etc. function under his/her control and supervision.
In a large corporation, such as Delhi or Mumbai Municipal Corporation, the Commissioner is usually a senior IAS officer. In municipalities, the executive officer holds a similar position and looks after the overall administration of a municipality.
Municipal functions are generally classified into obligatory and discretionary types.
  i.      The obligatory (compulsory) functions are those that the municipal body must perform. In this category fall such functions as water supply; construction and maintenance of roads, streets, bridges, subways and other public works, street lighting; drainage and sewerage; garbage collection and disposal; prevention and control of epidemics.
Some other obligatory functions are public vaccination and inoculation; maintenance of hospitals and dispensaries including maternity and child welfare centres; checking food adulteration; removal of slums; supply of electricity; maintenance of cremation and burial grounds; and town planning. In some States some of these functions may be taken over by State Government.
ii.      The discretionary functions are those that a municipal body may take up if funds permit. These are given less priority. Some of the discretionary functions are construction and maintenance of rescue homes and orphanages, housing for low income groups, organizing public receptions, provision of treatment facilities, etc.

TYPES OF URBAN LOCAL BODIES
Urban local bodies in India are broadly classified as follows:
  i.      Municipal Corporation- Municipal Corporation is established by the Act of state government for the big cities of states and by the Act of Parliament for the big cities of Union Territories. A corporation has three authorities. First is the corporation council headed by the Mayor, who is assisted by the Deputy Mayor. The councilors and Mayor are directly elected by the people. Council is a deliberative and legislative organ of the corporation. Second organ of the corporation are the standing committees to deal with various activities like health, education, public works and are empowered to take decisions in their respective fields. The third authority of the Corporation is the Municipal Commissioner, who is a government officer and is responsible for the implementation of the decisions taken by the council and standing committees.
ii.      Municipalities- Municipalities are setup by the Acts of state legislature for the administration of small cities or towns. It also has three authorities. First the municipal council is the legislative branch of the municipality, and is headed by the Chairman, who in turn is assisted by a Deputy Chairman. The standing committees facilitate the work of municipality in various fields such as health, taxation finance etc. The third authority of the municipality is the Chief Municipal Officer, who is appointed by the state government and is responsible for the general administration of the municipality. The municipality may be known by other names also such as Municipal Board, Municipal Council or Municipal Committee etc.
iii.      Notified Area Committee- This may be created either in a town which is fast developing or which may not fulfill the conditions for the creation of a municipality. It is known as Notified Area Committee because it is created through a notification of the state government published in the official gazette. It is not a statutory body and all its members and chairman are nominated by the government. It performs similar functions as performed by a municipality.
iv.      Town Area Committee-It is created by a separate Act of state government for the administration of small towns. It performs a limited number of functions like street lighting, drainage etc. As provided in the Act, it may be wholly elected or totally nominated or partly elected or partly nominated body.
v.      Cantonment Boards- They are established to perform municipal functions for civilian population living in cantonment or military areas. Its noticeable feature is that it is created and works under the central Act of 1924 under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence. There are three types of Cantonment Boards depending upon the number of civilian population in the Cantonment Area. It consists of partly elected and partly nominated members. The members are elected for a three year term. The military officer commanding the cantonment station is the ex -officio chairman of the Cantonment Board.
vi.      Townships- Townships are established by a public sector undertaking as its housing colony to provide civil amenities to its employees living in township. It has no elected members and its affairs are managed by a Town Administrator appointed by the public sector undertaking.
vii.      Port Trusts- Such urban bodies are established by an Act of the Parliament to manage and protect ports and to provide civic amenities to the port area. It is headed by an official appointed by the central government. It has both elected and nominated members. 
vii.  Special Purpose Agencies- The state governments establish some special purpose agencies to perform some specific functions of municipalities. They function as separate bodies not under the control of municipalities. They may be created either by an act of State Legislature or by an order of the executive. Some of these agencies are Housing Board, Water Supply Undertaking, Electricity Supply Undertakings, and Urban Development Authorities etc.

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