Panel suggests restructuring of Chennai Corporation

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CHENNAI: The committee of international experts, appointed by the Chennai corporation to review the city development plan (CDP), has suggested in its interim report that the local body be restructured to enable it to handle greater responsibilities. The committee envisages the corporation taking over within city limits the roles of the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA), commissioner of municipal administration, Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB), Fire and Rescue Services, Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board (TNSCB) and government departments such as highways, social welfare, forest and tourism.

M G Devasahayam, a member of the committee, told TOI, “It is aimed at making local bodies function like urban local governments. This is the model adopted in major cities like New York and Durban where city mayors are all powerful.”

The interim report, submitted by the UK-based GHK Consultancy a week ago, has suggested a host of institutional reforms as per the provisions of the Nagar Palika Act. “They are mandatory as per the reforms agenda set forth by the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) also,” said Devasahayam.

According to L K Tripathy, former TN chief secretary, the concept of restructuring the corporation is not new as it is part of the Nagar Palika Act itself. “But in India we have been successfully following the multi-agency model in several cities. By trying to integrate the functions of several agencies now, we would be diluting the existing professionalism. It could lead to problems in raising funds from international funding agencies. Also, the corporation will not be able to prioritise water supply all the time. If restructured and integrated, water supply will only be one of the functions for the local body. Western countries have integrated many service agencies with local bodies, through a process of evolution. It is not advisable for us.”

The review also calls for passing a public disclosure law and a community participation law to make all information available for the public and engage them, as stakeholders, in formulating development plans. The consultant has proposed an equitable growth model for the city without harming the coastline, rivers, water bodies, urban forests, marsh land and reservoirs.

A review of the city development plan was necessitated because after the release of the second master plan in September 2008, the corporation felt the earlier plan had many lacunae. The corporation sought the assistance of the Manila-based Cities Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA), a wing of the Asian Development Bank, for carrying out the task. CDIA engaged GHK for reviewing issues pertaining to governance, water supply, traffic, transportation, institutional development and capacity building. DHV Consultancy, another firm, was engaged for handling issues like solid waste management and water bodies.

Devasahayam said the final report would be submitted to the corporation in June.

Source: The Times of India –

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