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Monday, August 01, 2005

The road ahead

Milind Deora, a member of parliament from South Mumbai, does a diagnosis of what is wrong with Mumbai's administration in the Indian Express. He writes:
[I]t is important for Mumbai to have one democratically elected leader who can be held responsible for its overall well-being. We elect 6 MPs, 34 MLAs and 225 municipal councillors to represent us in Parliament, the state assembly and the municipality respectively, with no individual being held accountable for the city as a whole. Today, the chief minister is responsible for Maharashtra, of which Mumbai constitutes only a part. While Mumbai has only an eighth of the state’s MLAs, its economic contribution to Maharashtra is far greater. A complex city like Mumbai demands dedicated attention.
One way of doing this, of course, would be to give a lot more power to the mayor of the city, the kind that the mayors of American cities enjoy, for example. But it is next to impossible that a wing of the government will actually allow power to slip away to another wing. An alternative solution, then, is separate statehood for Mumbai, an idea which is mooted from time to time.

After the diagnosis, Deora suggests a treatment:
The elected representative in charge of Mumbai must have overriding powers to control all agencies working in the city. For instance, MHADA reports to the housing minister, MSRDC reports to the transportation minister, the police to the home minister, MMRDA and BMC to the urban development minister and chief minister. This leads to a major disconnect between the key agencies working for Mumbai. It makes little sense that Asia’s largest civic body — the BMC — is run by a bureaucrat in the world’s largest democracy! It is therefore important for state governments to decentralise their powers, not just in Mumbai but in all major cities — and bring the efforts of local authorities together.
Read the full piece. It is particularly significant because its writer is a young member of parliament from this city, and not a mere journalist or armchair pontificator. It will be interesting to see how his career progresses in the years to come.

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