Musing by Col P Chandra (Retd) regarding Municipal Corporation in Noida.
by Col P Chandra
Recently there have been lots of discussions and meetings to decide whether to have a separate Municipal Corporation or not for Noida. The discussion on the requirement of a Municipal Corporation for Noida shows the conflicting interest amongst stake holders. The business community wants the UP Industrial Area Development Act 1976 to remain operative so that around 10000 industries continue to get benefits. On the other hand lakhs of common citizens are looking for better civic amenities, better than what Noida Authority has been able to provide so far.
To begin with let me say that Bureaucracy is India’s Achilles heel. Parse above mentioned two conflicting requirements and the conclusion that emerges is that the bureaucracy prevalent in Noida Authority is the weak link in governance chain in Noida. This is indeed true for almost all of India. In many cases it is our experience that we lodge complaints with Noida Authority on various issues and thereafter wait in vain for satisfactory resolution. The casual approach towards resolution of broad spectrum of issues has resulted in all around dissatisfaction. Ultimately the political class will pay the price of follies of Noida Authority. The recent election result in cotton growing areas of Gujarat is a pointer in this direction. But that is another issue for another day.
Policy and guidelines given in UP Industrial Act 1976 have led to a situation where solution has itself become the problem. But one fact is glaringly clear that Noida Authority is not able to discharge functions of a municipal corporation. Perhaps they themselves want to get rid of this responsibility because citizens demand visible performance on daily basis.
Our bureaucracy fares poorly in drafting and interpretation of rules. Even in simple routine area like following proper procedures they score poorly. The incompetence of operational level officers of Noida Authority has imposed incalculable cost on society at large. General public does not understand the nuances whether we should have an independent municipal corporation or whether we should let Noida Authority continue shouldering this responsibility. So this gap is being filled up by prominent citizens and respected organization like CONRWA and FONRWA.
Preamble of the Act
Let me quote first few lines from the Act itself. These lines show that it is entirely possible to continue with Noida Authority discharging the duties akin to a municipal corporation. I quote the following:-
(i)This is an Act to provide for the constitution of an Authority for the development of certain areas in the State into industrial and urban township and for matters connected therewith.
(ii)‘Amenities’ include roads, water supply, street lighting and power supply, sewerage, drainage, collection treatment and disposal of industrial waste and town refuse and such other community facilities, services or conveniences as the State Government may, by notification, specify to be an amenity for the purposes of this Act.
Functions of the Authority as Given in the Act (it already includes municipal duties)
(1) The object of the Authority shall be to secure the planned development of the industrial
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the objects of the Authority, the Authority shall perform the
following functions :–
(a)to prepare a plan for the development of the industrial development area;
(b)to demarcate and develop sites for industrial, commercial and residential purpose according to the plan;
(c)to provide infrastructure for industrial, commercial and residential purposes;
(d)to provide amenities;
(e)to allocate and transfer either by way of sale or lease or otherwise plots of land for industrial, commercial or residential purposes;
(f)to regulate the erection of buildings and setting up of industries: and
(g)to lay down the purpose for which a particular site or plot of land shall be used, namely for industrial or commercial or residential purpose or any other specified purpose in such area.
We cannot have our cake and eat it too. Current discussion reminds me of a book written by Amartya Sen, the Nobel laureate. This book is named “The Argumentative Indians”. In this book Amartya Sen discusses India’s intellectual and political heritage and how our argumentative tradition is vital for the success of our democratic decisions and politics. So what is the solution to this issue? Given the disappointing ways of Noida Authority a trade off is the best solution. Let us start this experiment of having a separate wing under Noida Authority to look after the duties of a municipal corporation. This wing must have separate CEO and separate staff. Some of the existing staff may be transferred to this municipal wing. This solution will keep the nature of Noida as envisaged in the UP Industrial Area Development Act 1976. At the same time it will open ways for better provision of civic amenities in Noida.
It is unlikely that we heard the last on this issue.