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Powers to local bodies: Constitutional amendment likely

Sunday 3 April 2005

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, APRIL 2 . The Centre plans to bring in a constitutional amendment for delegating more powers to civic bodies, Union Minister for Urban Affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad, said today.

The earlier amendments were not successful as many States refused to part with their powers, he said, addressing the inaugural session of the World Mayors’ Conference, which began here.

Through the 74th Amendment in 1992, the Centre added a three-tier system to the country’s federal polity. It was aimed at strengthening the municipal administration to have the institutional capability to deal with problems of urbanisation and urban population.

He said the Government intended to make devolution of power by State Governments to local bodies mandatory so that the local bodies could access Central funds for urban infrastructure improvement. The Government also planned to improve the quality of urban governance and to assist local bodies in developing political willingness and administrative capability to implement principles of good governance.

e-governance tools

Mr. Azad said the Government formulated a national plan to provide e-governance tools to all municipal bodies in phases. The first phase, to be launched in August 2005, would cover 35 cities with more than one million population. Hardware and software specifications were designed with a common set of eight services and management functions to be performed through e-governance.

The Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, said the State faced the problem of sustaining its achievements. While the country was grappling with the first generation of problems of development, the State was facing the second generation of problems.

The Director-General, All-India Institute of Local Self Government (AIILSG), R.S. Chavan; the Lucknow Mayor and chairman of All- India Council of Mayors, S.C. Rai; the State Tourism Minister, K.C. Venugopal; the Kochi Mayor, Dinesh Mani; the president, AIILSG, J.V. Modi; the U.N. Resident Coordinator and Resident representative United Nations Development Programme, India, Maxine Olson, took part.

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