Opposition parties may have created major impediments for the government on financial reforms agenda. But when it comes to reforms in urban sector, it's the opposition-ruled states that have outperformed the Congress or its allies in city management.
An assessment report of the government prepared last month shows that Gujarat leads the pack with 90% achievement rate. Among the top-seven states in urban reforms, five are ruled by the opposition parties.
Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra are the only two Congress-led states where city-based reforms initiatives have more than 80% success rate. A majority of the northeast states, Jammu & Kashmir and Bihar are among the 'slow-performing' states
As part of the government's Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for 65 cities, the Centre had linked financial assistance to states with these reforms measures.While some reforms required legislative measures such as enactment of community participation law, public disclosure laws and repeal of Urban Land Ceiling & Regulation Act, other measures included stamp duty rationalisation to 5%, levy user charges on water supply and solid waste management, better e-governance, ensuring 85% coverage of property tax and providing basics services to the urban poor.
The agenda also included streamlining building-approval process, mandatory rainwater harvesting, earmarking 25% developed land in government housing projects for the poor, computerized registration of properties, reuse of recycled water and encouraging public-private partnerships.
Most of the states have performed in areas like enactment of public disclosure law, encouraging public private partnerships or stamp duty rationalization. Environment-friendly measures like rain-water harvesting, reuse of recycled water also saw high compliance rates.
But clearly many state governments have shied away from imposing user-charges on services.
The cost recovery of water supply and waste management saw success rates 31% and 17%, respectively.