Experts demand to set up municipal regulatory authority in Rajasthan

Voice of Jaipur, June 01, 2022

The need for instituting the office of a regulatory authority with statutory power for all local self-government institutions is vital to keep an eye on the functioning of all municipal bodies, to be a citizens’ sentinel. Such a body with independent powers to probe and penalise, in addition to the normal law and justice system, could be used to check misuse of office, unsatisfactory working and shed a light on needed change at local level said Vasudevan Suresh, Former CMD, HUDCO & President Good Governance India Foundation during CUTS’s the inception of a project titled ‘‘Improving City Governance Through Enhancing Knowledge of Urban Local Bodies in Rajasthan’ which is in partnership with the Australian High Commission under its Direct Aid Programme.

 He further added municipal bond is a new buzz word for local self-government to finance its capital expenditures, including the construction of bridges or schools. However, the lack of interest from the investor due to the fact that these bonds were not tradable and lacked regulatory clarity.

 George Cheriyan, Director, CUTS mentioned in his opening address that currently, Rajasthan’s urban population is around 1.70 crore that is 24.9 per cent of the total population whereas the rural population stands at 5.15 crore which is 75.1 per cent of the total population. Such a rise in urban population implies increased demand for goods and services, and requirement of efficient systems for urban planning, management and governance. Therefore, addressing urban development and transformation, urban inequalities and bringing in suitable reformation within the urban governance system to address these changes is certainly the most important political and intellectual challenges for India. 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 that rightly devolved funds directly to the urban local bodies but wrongly burdened them with more additional functions to be performed. He reminded, Sustainable Development Goal on Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) urges countries to have a renewed focus on urban governance and make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.

From time-to-time various studies have pointed out that the state of municipal finances in the country is not in a good shape. Municipal revenue continues to account for a small share of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and has remained stagnant at around one percent of GDP for past many years. Municipal bonds are an option available to large cities to raise resources for financing long term projects such as infrastructure development. It’s an ideal way for ULBs to finance development projects and raise money, George added.

His Excellency Barry O’Farrell AO, Australia ‘s High Commissioner to India, through a recorded video message congratulated CUTS for the urban governance project and highlighted urban governance is one of the key areas where India and Australia have formal strategic partnership.

During his special address Abhijeet Kumar, Mayor, Bharatpur Municipal Corporation reiterated that there is need to set up municipal regulatory authority in Rajasthan. Responsibilities are entrusted to local self-governments (LSGs) but there is neither power to fulfil those responsibilities nor any administrative setup. There are lot of administrative and financial problems within LSGs.  local government bodies should be made autonomous so that they can manage and address their own problems. The local bodies if granted autonomy especially in the revenue and financial departments can efficiently administer policies, he highlighted.

Mahendra Soni, IAS, Commissioner, Japur Municipal Corporation (Greater) highlighted India’s problem can be solved in 180 days if we human correct ourselves. we as a society expects a lot of entitlements. we keep blaming the system. There is urgent need to take responsibility each stakeholder for effective urban governance.

S N Singh, Chairman, Swachh Nagar Sanstha said government functionaries should be more accessible to common citizen. There is need for separation of power at LSGs level. Also, municipal ward level committees should be strengthened.  During meeting, Dr. Himani Tiwari, CMAR, Dept. of Local Self Government, Govt. of Rajasthan highlighted the government’s initiative and programme related to urban governance.

Amar Deep Singh, Sr. Programme Officer CUTS presented the CUTS previous work on urban governance and explained Improving City Governance Project’s objective and activities. Amit Babu, Programme Associate, CUTS proposed the vote of thanks. The meeting saw participation of more than 40 participants including representatives of government departments, organisations civil society representatives, RWAs, active citizen, former councillors from different parts of Rajasthan.

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