(G.N.S) Dt. 15
India has nearly 7,000 urban settlements that demand attention and the government is working hard to remove “big city bias,” said housing and urban affairs minister Hardeep S. Puri.
Speaking at non-profit Janaagraha’s annual conclave on shaping India’s urban agenda, Puri said: “We have already ensured that medium and small towns are part of ongoing flagship schemes like AMRUT and Smart Cities Mission.”
Pune, with its uncleared garbage, bad roads, broken footpaths, unmindful traffic, bad air and governance that has to yet reach most citizens, ranks first among 23 cities from 20 states in the Annual Survey of India’s City-System (ASICS) for 2017, making it the best governed city in the country.
Pune scored 5.1 points out of 10 and left behind other cities, including Delhi (4.4) and Mumbai (4.2). Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneswar and Surat were ranked behind Pune.
The study was conducted by a non-profit organisation — Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy. It was a huge leap for the city which ranked ninth last year, wresting the number one position from Thiruvananthapuram.
Bengaluru, India’s IT capital, was at rock bottom of the chart of 23 major Indian cities in terms of urban governance,
“Our efforts to improve the financial capacity of the governing bodies and making civic services more public friendly has paid off. The surveyors have taken note of these services,” Pune’s municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar told a daily newspaper. He added that digitization of services has been getting a good response from the people since it saves time.
The survey looked at governance in other countries to explain where Indian metros stand. Johannesburg in South Africa, London in the UK and New York in the United States scored 7.6, 8.8 and 8.8, respectively.
“The annual survey measures the preparedness of cities to deliver high quality infrastructure and services in the long-term by evaluating “city-systems” of spatial planning and design standards, civic finance, civic staffing, political leadership at the city level and transparency and citizen participation,” a press release issued by the NGO said.
Parameters such as urban capacities and resources, empowered and legitimate political representation, transparency accountability and participation and urban planning and design were used to give marks.
Activists and citizens said much has to improve at the ground level. “If Pune is number one, the situation in the other cities is worrisome. The ranking by NGO is not always the correct picture. This has been our experience in the past surveys. Garbage processing is a constant in the city for many years. Even so, some NGOs give Pune top marks for garbage management,” Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch, a citizens’ group, said.
Qaneez Sukhrani of Nagrik Chetna Manch said the city’s governance needs much improvement. “There are many lapses and civic works are taken up in a haphazard manner. The area sabhas have not been held in a proper manner in the last one year. Inadequate water supply, power failure, bad roads, garbage mismanagement in the core areas of the city are problems. How the city ranked first despite many areas facing daily problems is a surprise. The surveys cannot be based only on the replies of the civic administration. There should be space for people’s opinion too,” she added.
The 2016 survey said strong urban governance was linked to service delivery, adding that Indian cities are not financially sustainable and don’t generate enough revenue to cover even staff salaries.