(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 26, 2010
Urban Reforms: An Experience
C H Babu Rao
has been said about the funds for the development of cities from the
and the central government. The central government initially chose
state government has stopped giving grants which it was supposed to
law on the pretext of central funds to the
For these projects, 30 per cent of the funds (around Rs 420 crore) have to be borne by the city corporation. The central and state governments have not released even the funds that they have comparatively expended for the JNNURM. The state and centre owe Rs 150 crore to the corporation. Above it, the centre has stopped the last instalment of the funds stating that the user charges and other conditionalities have not been implemented in time. As a result, at present there is no money with the corporation even for wages. Money is owed to the contractors. Development works like drinking water supply, underground drainage, laying/repair of roads etc have been stopped midway, subjecting the people to severe hardships.
PEOPLE ON THE
ALTAR OF REFORMS
The poor people have become scapegoats of urban reforms. Burdens have increased, while facilities were curtailed. Slums were neglected. In the name of minimum tax, around Rs 50-153 has been increased in the tax on the huts. As a result of privatisation of lavatories, poor people who do not have independent toilets are shelling out Rs 300-500 as user charges for utilising the public toilets. The fee for issuing birth and death certificates has been increased by Rs 5-50. Taxes were imposed on small vendors who sell their wares sitting on roadside. Fee was levied even on using the premises of municipal schools where the poor had an opportunity to hold their marriage and other functions by Rs 100-1000. In the name of providing underground drainage, huge donations were levied. The corporation has withdrawn from mosquito eradication programmes. Every day poor families are forced to spend Rs 5 for mosquito control. On the whole the reforms are playing havoc on poor people lives.
In the name of reforms, street lighting, maintaining public toilets, etc have all been privatised. Rich people have been given an opportunity to construct and sell apartments, hotels in the valuable lands of the government and city corporation. Priority is being accorded for providing facilities like drinking water, maintaining roads, etc in the colonies of the rich under the pretext that they are ready to share part of the expenditure through contributions. They are introducing a scheme to supply water 24 hours – 24x7 scheme – in these colonies. Parks are well maintained in these colonies. All facilities are provided to the wealthy. This is the reason why rich classes, contractors, corrupt officials, bureaucrats and politicians are very happy about these reforms.
BURDENS IN THE
NAME OF CONDITIONS
World Bank and the central government have imposed almost similar
the name of urban reforms. They have issued a diktat that 100 per cent
have to be collected from the people who avail civic facilities. Local
have to mobilise their own additional incomes for their share. As a
these five years severe burdens were imposed on the people of
the promises for strengthening the local bodies and giving more powers
through the 74th Constitutional Amendment proved to be empty words.
bodies have been robbed of their power to take decisions under their
and were degraded to just implementing agencies of the diktats and
conditionalities of the central and state governments. Without the
the elected council, the commissioner has signed on urban development
has dangerous conditions. It was later unilaterally adopted by the
without any discussion as a mere formality. Only after the CPI(M) has
this fraud, the corporators and the people have been given the copies.
state government has issued orders rejecting the resolutions of the
doing away with the garbage tax and on giving concessions to the poor
change of name in the property tax receipts. The state government did
heed to the unanimous resolution of the council demanding the
the huts of the poor constructed on the
for the CPI(M) all other parties welcomed the introduction of JNNURM in