At a time when cities across India are vying for the ‘smart’ tag, many have failed to implement key municipal reforms to ensure transparency and improve service delivery among residents. This was revealed in a report card of 500 cities selected under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the central government’s urban upgrade scheme.
Of the 36 states and union territories, only 16 – comprising 330 ULBs – got the 10% incentive in 2016-17. Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu gave away awards to these states on June 23, the second anniversary of the scheme.
Of the 330 ULBs, only 40 – concentrated in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha – have rolled out a majority of the 11 reforms so far. Implementation in the remaining 290 ULBs has been patchy, at best.
For instance, of the 61 municipalities in Uttar Pradesh, only one has adopted most of the reforms.
The reforms include bringing a host of municipal services such as payment of property tax and issuance of death/ birth certificates online; creating a dedicated municipal cadre; and introducing double-entry accounting for municipal finances. Eight states – Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya and Tripura – have done a poor job at implementing them, becoming ineligible for the 10% incentive.