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UP Civic Polls: Before tall claims, candidates need to get back to basics

A sizeable population in Uttar Pradesh doesn’t even have access to basic amenities like regular water supply, sewerage, disposal of solid waste, streetlights and roads.

lucknow Updated: Nov 23, 2017 13:39 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
UP Civic Polls,Basic necessities,CAG audit
While there has been a persistent demand by citizens for more and better municipal services, the revenue receipts of the municipalities have not increased sufficiently to cope with the requirement of the civic infrastructure.(HT File Photo)

Candidates are making tall claims to woo voters in the civic polls, but a sizeable population in Uttar Pradesh doesn’t even have access to basic amenities like regular water supply, sewerage, disposal of solid waste, streetlights and roads.

Highlights
  • Stamp duty comprises the major source of income as tax revenue for local urban bodies.
  • Among the non-tax revenue, road cutting charges is the biggest source of income.
  • Around 50% of sanctioned posts in the local urban bodies are vacant
  • UP’s urban population is 4.44 crore which is 11.79% of the country’s total urban population.
  • Around 50% of the state’s total urban population lives in 16 nagar nigams
  • UP urbanisation rate is among the lowest in the country.
  • CAG does not carry out audit of local bodies’ accounts.

According to a report submitted by the fourth State Finance Commission (SFC) in 2015, only 18% of the population received 24-hour water supply. Twenty-six per cent of the population under nagar nigams (municipal corporations) received water supply only for 4-6 hours daily while 20% received 2-4 hours of supply. The remaining population got water for less than two hours daily.

The situation was worse in nagar palika parishads, where only 22% of the houses had access to piped water supply made available to them by the municipalities. Sixty-four per cent of the people obtained water using their own resources while the remaining depended on public hand pumps.

Similarly, the commission found that there was no system for solid waste disposal in nine per cent of the colonies under nagar nigams while 29% colonies were dependent on private resources for this purpose. Nagar nigam employees collected waste from 55% of the colonies.

While there was no sewage line in Jhansi, Gorakhpur and Meerut were covered 6% and 37% respectively. Around 25% of the residential area in the state capital also lacked a sewerage system.

While there has been a persistent demand by citizens for more and better municipal services, the revenue receipts of the municipalities have not increased sufficiently to cope with the requirement of the civic infrastructure.

The municipalities in UP largely depend on the finances made available to them by the Central and the state governments, doing little to increase their own resources by expanding the tax base.

According to the fourth SFC, the local urban bodies-nagar palika parishad and nagar panchayats got funds to the tune of Rs 4,514 crore from the Centre and the state, out of which Rs 3,093 crore came from the state government alone in 2012-13. Their own total income, from the tax and non-tax revenue was, however, only Rs 1,127 crore.

The per capita (per person) tax imposed by the local urban bodies in 2011-12 was Rs 207 against Rs 1,194 core they spent per person during the same year. “Though they spend much more than what they earn, the per capita expenditure on development is still very low and the pathetic condition of civic services in urban areas of UP is an indication of the same,” said sources.

The local urban bodies were in dire need to increase their own resources by suitably enhancing existing taxes and fees and imposing new ones because of political and electoral reasons.

“The UP Nagar Palika Finance Resource Development Board has recommended that the local urban bodies must increase their own resources, but they often avoid doing this for political reasons,” sources added.

An ex-official of Lucknow Nigar Nigam said the nagar nigams were often not able to increase taxes and fees because proposals in this regard were generally rejected by the state government.

“As many as six nagar palika parishads and 42 nagar panchayats still do not levy house tax despite the same being made compulsory in 2011,” he said.

Sources further added that most of the local urban bodies spent a major portion of their income on the establishment a good part of funds are siphoned off with the civic services being the first causalities even as their income and expenditures are beyond the CAG audit.

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 13:39 IST