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Workshop on Urban Development by Prof. Om Prakash Mathur
Absence of capacities is cited as one of the principal reasons constraining the ULBs
in assuming larger responsibilities. The result is that the de-jure provisions in respect of functions have not been translated into any de-facto change in the ULBs functional domain. The SFCs also have taken a static view of the functional responsibilities of ULBs, and not triggered any action that would enable the ULBs to expand their functional profile. Confusion persists with regard to the precise role of ULBs in the 12th Schedule (Constitutional Amendment of 1992) , which stands further confounded by the fragmentation (and often overlapping) of responsibilities between the parastatal agencies and the ULBs in respect of such key functions as water supply, urban planning and regulation of land use, and slum improvement.
Thus, in India, urban fiscal decentralization remains an unfinished agenda. It is no longer an issue of matching functions with finances, but a larger one involving clarity of functions, norms of services, norms for revenue collection, design of fiscal decentralization, need to put in hard budget constraints, creating conditions for the private sector to engage in the provisions of municipal services, and preparing municipalities for a larger role in meeting macro goals and objectives of economic growth and poverty reduction.
Prof. Mathur primarily focused on the following aspects. Firstly, the increasing importance of cities and urbanization: What might explain it? Secondly, he emphasized on the role of today’s Urbanization and clarified if is it more of the same or are there some paradigmatic shifts? Thereafter, the discussion focused on the approaches to urbanization and questioned if India has moved beyond the standard package? Last but not the least, he also mentioned as what are the challenges for the academia: Do we see anything new in terms of teaching and research? The entire session was an interactive session. The student community (mostly at the post graduate level) participated with full enthusiasm. Needless to mention the workshop was a huge learning experience for all at SSE.
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