Urban Local Government and Corona Impact - Daily Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations


  • COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the metropolitan cities of India and it highlights their limited capabilities. The top metropolitan cities of India - Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad are responsible for almost half of COVID-19 cases.

Introduction :-

  • The entire world including India is being affected by the Corona epidemic. India's urban area is also badly affected by this. About 17 lakh affected corona infections of entire India are in Delhi only 1 lakh 35 thousand. Similar is the case with metropolitan cities including Mumbai, Bangalore. The countries of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad are responsible for almost half of COVID-19 cases. Somewhere unplanned urbanization is increasing the effectiveness of the corona.

Causes of Corona's influence in cities due to lack of governance: -

Health sector problem

  • India's public health expenditure in 2018 was just 1.28% of GDP. According to the World Bank, India's out-of-pocket health expenditure in 2017 was 62.4%, while the world average was 18.2%. Additionally, manpower in the health sector is low with India's doctor-population ratio of 1: 1,457, which is lower than the World Health Organization standard of 1: 1,000.

Governance deficit: -

  • An uneven public health system is a major governance issue. The role of governance is important not only in response to COVID-19 but also in preparedness for other natural and man-made disasters and contingencies, but it does not function at full capacity. Specific systemic factors inherent in city governance include spatial planning, municipal capacity, strong mayor and council and inter-agency coordination, and ward-level civic participation. Twenty-seven years have passed since the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act came into force, but this reform agenda continues at a slow pace

Lack of strong integrated spatial planning:

  • The constitution constitutes all metropolitan planning committees (MPCs) in metropolitan areas with a population of over one lakh. MPCs are conceived to ensure integrated planning for the entire metropolitan area, and are responsible for preparing draft development plans, synthesizing priorities set by local development authorities, state and central governments. In reality, the MPC is either not formed or it is defective. The report of the City-Systems of India (ASICS) 2017 annual survey found that only nine out of the 18 cities assessed constituted MPC.
  • The absence of comprehensive integrated planning is clearly visible in the COVID-19 crisis. Poor housing, sanitation and lack of access to meaningful social security are a reality for the urban poor. Only medium- to long-term spatial planning that focuses on equal access to opportunities and services can avoid recurrence of such disasters.

Weak administrative ability:

  • Metropolitan cities in India have weak finance and workforce capacity. Bengaluru's own average percentage for total expenditure is 47.9%, Chennai 30.5%, Mumbai 36.1% and Kolkata 48.4%. As per ASICS 2017, Mumbai has the highest number of officers at 938 per lakh population. However, it is lower than globally low cities, with 2,922 executives like Johannesburg and New York having 5,446 officers per million population. COVID-19 rekindles the poor capacity of municipalities in delivering infrastructure and services and managing disasters; It states the need to increase the capacity of municipalities for self-government.

Local governance problem

  • The leaders who run India's metropolitan cities have less power. No major metropolitan city with a population of over 10 million has directly elected mayors. The mayor of Mumbai has a term of 2.5 years, the mayors of Delhi and Bengaluru hold office for 1 year. Furthermore, Meyers does not in most cases have the authority to make full decisions on the important functions of planning, housing, water, environment, fire and emergency services. Our metropolitan cities are far from the essence of local governance. Agencies for planning, water and public transport report directly to state governments. The state government also controls public works and police to a large extent.

Transparency, Accountability and Civic Participation:

  • Encouraging citizen participation in transparent cities with institutional platforms has a significant impact on urban democracy. There are no functional ward committees and field meetings in any metropolis. The absence of citizen participation is worsening due to poor transparency in finance and operations. According to ASICS 2017, India's large metropolitan cities average score of 3.04 / 10 in transparency, accountability and participation. The World Bank report states that despite the emergence of smaller cities, the underlying character of India's urbanization is "metropolitan", with new cities surrounding existing large cities. According to a McKinsey report, in 2012, 54 metropolitan cities and their hinterlands accounted for 40% of India's GDP, and by 2025, 69 metropolitan cities, with their hinterland, accounting for India's GDP by 2025 Will produce half. Despite this, India still has to remain active on the Cooperative Metropolitan Governance Framework.

What should be done :-

  • Globally, metropolitan cities are run by a directly elected leader with strong mechanisms to reduce fragmentation in governance. Developed examples include joint authorizations such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and recent experimental models in the United Kingdom and Australia. India needs domestic solutions suited to its context and political realities, institutional design from global contexts.
  • The Decentralized Citizen Participation Forum helps in identifying beneficiaries, co- opting communities for contact tracing, adopting security precautions, implementing quarantines, recruiting volunteers and collaborating with civil society organizations to fight the epidemic Are important.
  • The health sector requires extreme attention. In this context, Health Policy 2017 will be particularly important.
  • For increasing economic independence of metropolitan governments ,the scheme of municipal bond started.
  • In case if Mayor and Chief Minister belong to different political parties of the conflict arose , so it is necessary to regulate the control of the state government from the urban areas by the constitution to achieve the real essence of cooperative and competitive sub-federalism.

Conclusion: -

  • The challenges posed by COVID-19 provide a glimpse of various other hazards of future climate change, natural disasters etc. which will further stresses the Indian cities. It is time that the Central and State Governments strive towards a metropolitan governance model. First, it is necessary to include a five-year term by the government, inter-agency coordination with decentralized ward-level governance, and then increase administrative capacity. India should use the current epidemic as an opportunity to introspect and improve the way it controls its metropolitan administration.

General Studies Paper- 1 and 2

  • Indian Society, Governance

Mains Question:-

  • The Corona epidemic has exposed not only the problem of unplanned urbanization but also the problems of urban local governance. Analyze the impact Corona on Indian metropolitan cities?