At least 39 per cent of India’s capital cities do not have an active master plan, according to a survey conducted by Bengaluru-based think tank Janaagraha. The Annual Survey of India’s City-System 2023 also states that mayors and councillors only have limited role in key municipal functions.
The survey report, released on Tuesday by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri here, says 17 per cent of cities have a mayoral tenure of less than five years, adding that a tenure of less than five years makes the position of the mayor largely “ceremonial and inconsequential”.
As per the report, mayors and councillors in India remain disempowered due to highly restricted devolution of functions and powers over funds and functionaries, short tenures in office and a policy of rotational reservations mandated by 74th Constitutional Amendment Act according to which reserved seats are allotted by rotation to different wards in the city.
“This has resulted in our city governments being practically reduced to one other civic service delivery agency rather than a city government or a local self-government,” the survey states.
“Robust plan preparation is fundamental in improving the quality of infrastructure and services for residents and avoiding urban sprawl. However, at least 39 per cent of the capital cities in India do not have active spatial plans,” it reveals.
The report includes the study of 82 municipal legislations, and 44 town and country planning acts, among others.
It also says that no state in India provides an effective system to prevent the approval of projects that are not in conformity with spatial development plans (SDPs).
Additionally, there are no robust provisions by law to monitor ongoing projects for possible violations, the survey states.
“A vibrant SDP needs to be the product of a carefully structured process of discussion to outline a collective vision for the city. However, there is an absence of formal platforms for citizen participation in planning for our cities,” it states.
After releasing the report, Union minister Puri said the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban has brought about a pan-India behavioural shift towards cleanliness.
Solid waste processing has gone up from 17 per cent in 2014 to 76% today, he said and expressed confidence of achieving 100 per cent waste processing in coming years.