Urbanization and local bodies

Why is it in the headlines?

The emphasis is on the governance of the local bodies during urbanization. 

The smart city mission depends on governance and how urban local bodies define the role of national development strategies.

What is the Smart City Mission?

  • It is the initiative that was envisioned by the prime minister with the idea to promote the cities to provide ease of living to its people with core infrastructural development.

  • A smart city has high-quality infrastructure, decent life, access to resources, and a clean and sustainable environment.

  • The goal of smart cities is to enhance the quality of life by promoting economic growth. 

    • Create reproducible models with a focus on sustainable and inclusive development. 

How are the central, state, and local governments linked?

This new era of urbanization, which adopts innovative digital and sustainable approaches to achieve the goal, is not unilateral. 

  • In other words, it is linked with different levels of governance, basically, reform at the local government level.
    •  The motive of making urban local bodies and their administrative tools more innovative and adaptive. 
  • These initiatives are not linked with the finances only, but the role of urban local bodies also plays a big role. 
  • This mission is a centrally funded program that made it compulsory for state governments and local bodies to contribute equally.
  • It is expected that states look for funding for the mission from different sources. 
    • It could be obtained by the resources that generate the collection of user fees, beneficiary charges, impact fees, land monetization, debt, and loans.
  • The mission is controlled and monitored at three levels-
    • National: the responsibility is to approve ideas and keep track of the progress and allocation of funds. The secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs leads it.
    • State: The direction of the mission is set by the high-powered committee that the Chief Secretary of the State maintains. 
    • City (municipal level): the district collector and chief executive officer make the smart city advisory forum for all the smart cities.
      • Release funds and carry out the mission
      • Assess the projects regarding the development of smart cities. 

Urban local bodies

  • There are 3723 urban local bodies. 

    • This number showcases the potential to leverage growth and development in all essential areas. 

  • Through this mission, India can move into the new age of governance, where the focus is on improving the efficiency of the urban local bodies. 

  • One of the best examples is SPVs (special purpose vehicles). They are private companies with 40% private investment but operate like municipalities. They have a sense of stability with permanent executive leadership in urban governance. 

  • It is expected to be the way to encourage the local government to move towards interdepartmental convergences and devolution to elect officials of executive authority from the city.

What is the role of local bodies in the mission?

  • Urban local bodies play a big role in the mission's success through factors like swift and effective leadership. 

  • With the help of their grassroots operations, they can provide a clear vision and show the desire to build better communities by promoting effective and efficient development.

  • They are the source of information about the local environment, bring forth the demands that need to be addressed, and be the voice of the census.

How are the smart city mission and local bodies synergized?

  • Sustainable urbanization can be achieved by realizing the role of grassroots governance and increasing the scope of work and jurisdiction. 

  • The mission should revolutionize urban governance while strengthening accountability and transparency to have a long-term impact on urban development. 



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