Civic systems: Delhi ranked fifth in India, way behind world
A survey by Bangalore based Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy has ranked it fifth behind Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhopal and Patna.
The annual survey evaluates the performance of 21 cities, including 18 state capitals, on four parameters: urban planning and design (UPD), urban capacities and resources (UCR), empowered and legitimate political representation (ELPR), and transparency, accountability and participation (TAP).
Although Delhi leads Indian cities in urban planning and urban capacities, which includes budget and staff strength, it lags in terms of political representation and accountability. Janaagraha claims some audit queries on financial and project related discrepancies are pending in Delhi since 1964—50 years. "Imagine if this were a company instead of a city, it would have been immediately delisted from the stock exchange," said Ramesh Ramanathan, co-founder, Janaagraha. Delhi also has error rates of more than 20% in its municipality election voter list.
Delhi with a large staff strength of 140,000 and Mumbai with a huge budget of Rs 30,000 crore have mayors with terms of one year and 2.5 years, respectively. Delhi does not have a public disclosure law, neither do Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. Thiruvananthapuram is the only city to have a local body ombudsman to resolve inter-agency disputes which often slow down projects. And unlike Ranchi and Patna, Delhi does not have independent external auditors (a panel of chartered accountants). All these facts have gone against Delhi.
While the benchmark cities, London and New York, have average scores of 9.6 and 9.3 (on 10), all Indian cities have scored in a range of 2.5 to 4. Chandigarh, famous for being a planned city, has slipped to the bottom with 2.5 points for coming up short on contemporary planning needs, public disclosure and a community participation law.
Delhi also has some catching up to do with major cities in the developing world. It has 1.4 lakh civic employees for a population of 1.7 crore while Sao Paulo in Brazil had more than 1.7 lakh employees in 2004 for a smaller population. Mexico City has one of the most "open" or accessible municipalities while Delhi doesn't even have a citizen's charter.
On the brighter side, Delhi is the only Indian city to have legal provisions of decentralization to a local level in its town and country planning Act. The other cities have archaic plans, with Hyderabad following an Act that was drafted in 1920. Delhi is the only Indian city with ward-level spatial development plans and has scored 3.8 for planning but zero for implementation.
Smaller cities have better and relatively newer legislations compared to the bigger cities, hence Thiruvananthapuram, Bhopal and Raipur find a place in the top 10. Janaagraha benchmarked the 21 cities on 83 questions covering 115 parameters.