Urban Decentralization in India: Issues and the way forward

The 74th Constitutional Amendment was to empower urban local bodies and support urban decentralization in India. However, over last 15 years, implementation of decentralization is different in various states. The paper identified various issues related with urban decentralization like weak staff capacity, role of parastalas in delivery of services, inadequate municipal revenue base, limited and ad-hoc transfer from central and state governments to ULBs etc. In this context, the paper suggested that the Constitution should be amended to classify the functions into core and other functions, industrial areas should not be not exempted from formation of ULBs and central finance commissions should provide grant-in-aid to ULBs linked to certain central taxes. The paper also suggested several administrative measures like adoption of a common categorization of ULBs, minimum level of municipal staffing, executive powers for Mayors, unit area method or capital value method property tax assessment, greater role for metropolitan and district planning committees, making management of water supply and sewerage system should be the primary function of ULBs, enabling provisions for private sector participation in delivery of services and improved cost recovery, and setting up of regulatory framework for urban services. 

Prof. Chetan Vaidya
Pro-poor Governance of Urban Risks: The case of Ahmedabad

This paper investigates the shortcomings and potentials of the current governance structure to mainstream risk reduction and prevention in Ahmedabad. In analysing in detail the multifaceted elements and geography of urban vulnerability and risks in Ahmedabad, it is argued that urban risks constitute a multiplicity of dimensions that goes far beyond a conventional disaster management approach but reaches out to urban development and poverty reduction. This notion of risks is reflected in the terminology of 'urban risk governance' rather than 'risk management'. Risk governance postulates a pro-poor and multi-stakeholder approach which allows the expression of diverse opinions. Such a policy framework necessitates the ability of urban governments to change their attitude and mode of governance in order to tackle the complexity of urban risks. While hitherto neither the state nor the municipal authority of Ahmedabad seemed to see a need in establishing a comprehensive risk management framework at the city level, the recent City Development Plan makes a point in addressing urban risk management for the first time. Thus there may be an opportunity to introduce this dimension into considerations of urban planning. 

Dr. Christoph Woiwode
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