India's metro cities Delhi and Mumbai fare poorly on the urban governance parameters, according to a 21-city survey by Bengaluru-based advocacy group Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy.
According to the fourth edition of the Annual Survey of India’s City Systems 2016, national capital Delhi ranked a distant 9, while the top slots have been occupied by Thiruvananthapuram, Pune and Kolkata.
With a population of about 18 million, Delhi was ranked 6 in the 2015 survey. The city, which was ranked 6 in the 2015 survey, fared poorly on three aspects of urban governance - urban capacities and resources of municipalities to undertake reform; empowered and legitimate political representation; transparency, accountability and participation. Delhi, however, topped the chart in the urban planning and design category with a score of 3.7 - ahead of Mumbai and Bengaluru, among others.
Chandigarh, perceived to be a planned city, and Jaipur finds mention at the bottom of the list.
Mumbai and Ahmedabad with a score of 4.4 top the list of cities that have invested adequate funds in public infrastructure and services. A majority of the cities rely heavily on government grants.
The biggest gainer in 2016 was Bhubaneswar, which jumped eight ranks over 2015 to the 10th spot. This was on the back of a slew of reforms such as instituting Municipal cadres, tiered spatial planning including ward level plans and instituting a single window clearance process for development projects that are in conformity with plans.
On the other hand, Bengaluru dropped four places to rank 16 due to better performance by some of the smaller cities. Jaipur improved its scores on the back of passage of the Rajasthan Urban Land (Certification of Titles) Bill that enabled better urban land utilisation while Chennai slipped due to Tamil Nadu’s legislation to elect Mayors through indirect elections.
The survey found that the 21 cities generate just 37% of the amount they spend on average, with Patna raising only 17% on its own. Only Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Pune generate over 50% of the amount they spend from their own revenue.
While Thiruvananthapuramâ€™s per capita spend on capital expenditure is Rs 8,389, it is as low as Rs 418 in Patna.
Irrespective of the rankings, none of the Indian cities match up to standards of any international city, such as London or new York.
The survey, which looks at 83 governance parameters based on the City-Systems framework, shows that Indian cities score between 2.1 and 4.4 on 10, as against the global benchmarks of London and New York, which score 9.3 and 9.8 respectively.
The low scores imply that Indian cities need to strengthen their city-systems i.e. quality of laws, policies and institutions significantly to improve service delivery and thereby, deliver a high quality of life to citizens.