India is experiencing a rapid urban growth in a context where city governments are weak or non-existent. Governments come and go, the deficiencies lie with authorities. This reflects structural and institutional problems that will not be resolved by advanced data systems or sensor-equipped infrastructure networks.
At one hand where the government is planning to digitise the entire nation and banking heavily on its Smart Cities project there on the other hand the authorities are busy filling up their pockets. The Smart Cities mission looks like a distant dream if authorities will work at the current pace.
Where the problem lies?
The city development authorities regularly prepare plans but rarely implement. In India, floods are a common occurrence every monsoon. In metros like Mumbai and Delhi authorities never carry or finish their groundworks on time and inefficient water drainage system is the biggest cause of cities’ chronic flooding.
Rains almost paralyse the normal life in metros. Rains lead to severe traffic congestion, spread diseases like dengue, malaria and so on. This year in Mumbai about 62 people died in rain-related incidents.
Delhi tops the list when it comes to pollution. It’s only because of poor management that crackers got sold during 2017 Diwali and rest is the history. During last Diwalithe Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s (DPCC) RK Puram monitoring station started showing PM2.5 and PM10 at 878 and 1,179 micrograms per cubic metre, 10 times beyond the safety limits.
Illegal constructions and encroachments, sewer issues, environmental problems, waste management and so on, these are only few issues from the gigantic pool of glitches that our so called metro cities are facing. So now the question is, are our authoritiessleeping or keeping their eyes closed.
While some working authorities face huge challenges, like in particular the widening gap between the availability of financial resources and municipal expenditure needs. But the majority of them are ignoring things and wake-up when the situation gets out of the hand.
The 74th Amendment gives complete autonomy to urban bodies like corporations, municipalities, etc; that is, they should be able to manage on their own. They shouldn’t be a subsidiary to the state government.
For example, London or any city in Europe or the US, the governance of cities is done by urban bodies and not by the state government. But here, we have the municipality only for namesake; they have absolutely no authority.
Disparity can be seen every Indian City. The city needs good civic planning with modern technology to work alongside existing ecology.Proper drainage and storm-water outlets and a clear sewage system are not just crisis-management tools, but elements of basic good civic infrastructure. And our cities are severely lacking in all of these.
As we have not developed an urban philosophy and urban politics, governance of cities has become horrendous. There is not a single political leader in India who understands urbanisation.