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Need to Strengthen and Empower Urban Local Bodies(ULBS) for Equitable, Sustainable and Democratic Process of Urban Transformation – Hardeep Puri

New Delhi: Sh.Hardeep Puri, MoS(I/C ) Housing and Urban Affairs  emphasised on the need for strengthening Urban Local Bodies(ULBs) for bringing equality, liveability and democratic governance to the process of urban transformation. He was speaking at the ” Swarajya to Surajya” : 1st National Consultation on Strengthening of Local Self Government which was inaugurated by Hon’ble Vice President of India Venkaiah Naidu in Hyderabad today. Union Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Sh Narendra Singh Tomar, Dy.Chief Minister of Telangana Shri M.Mahmood Ali were also present at the event jointly organised by the Indian Institute of Public Administration and the Swarna Bharat Trust , Shamsabad.

Sh Puri said that the Govt under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embraced the challenge of rapid urbanisation as a positive engine of growth. Since ULBs are at heart of delivery of goods and services to people, it is imperative to strengthen them by greater decentralisation and empower them by meaningful devolution of the 3Fs i.e funds , functions and functionaries. Sh Puri said that while political decentralisation has progressed satisfactorily, administrative and fiscal decentralization has taken place at a snail’s pace.The state governments were expected to devolve functional autonomy, administrative support and financial resources to the local bodies, but success on this front has been unsatisfactory. Sh Puri emphasised that a radical change is needed if cities are to provide a socio-economic environment that will be inclusive, contribute to better quality of life, and sustain rapid growth. To achieve this following steps are necessary

1) Local governments should have functional autonomy

2) They should have financial autonomy and should aim to be financially viable.

3)Parastatals should not be allowed to undermine the authority of ULBs.

4) Need to establish a dedicated and a specialised trianed cadre to serve and cater to the complex needs of Urban local body governance.

Sh Puri said that participatory democracy, transparency and accountability are the the key pillars for new urban governance where formal participation procedures should be complemented by collaborative partnerships which go beyond consultation of policies/interventions, recognizing ward committees and area sabhas as active “partners” He emphasised that innovative and effective participation tools should be adopted to foster meaningful engagement bringing equality, liveability and democratic governance to the process of urban transformation.

             Sh.Puri also chaired a session on Urban Development where the implementation and the issues and concerns regarding the 74th Amendment were discussed by the participants from academia and local bodies. In his concluding remarks at the day long event , Sh Puri said there is urgent need to establish urban local bodies as viable units and the unfinished agenda of reforms in 74th amendment needs to be taken up with high priority . He reiterated the Centre’s commitment to positively consider the suggestions and recommendations which came up during the event for improvement in local self governance.

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