UDAs reduced to transacting agencies, he says

Urban development in India has become a pawn in the hands of politicians and poorly trained bureaucrats who find regularising violations an easy and rewarding thing to do than taking preventive action.

The Urban Development Authorities (UDAs), which are supposed to facilitate sustained development, were reduced to government agencies ‘transacting business’ with a wide variety of clients.

People are to be equally blamed for the state of disarray in cities and towns as they rarely question the irregularities so long as they are not directly affected and do not hesitate to indulge in wrong-doing, said former Mayor Jandhyala Sankar.

He was addressing the monthly-meeting of Friends on Same Wave Length (FOSWL), a city-based community service forum, on ‘Development of cities in India, especially Andhra Pradesh- Problems and solutions’ here on Sunday.

It was conducted by FOWSL city president M. Lingeswara Rao, secretary A. Krishna Kumari and treasurer K. Narendra Babu.

Mr. Sankar said posting of IAS officers, who have proper knowledge and training, as chairpersons and commissioners of UDA and Urban Local Bodies would solve the problem to a large extent.

But, they need to have the cooperation of people’s representatives and adequate funding from the governments if their expertise were to yield the desired results.

‘No care taken’

Little care is taken of the environment in widening roads, utilising parks and creating other infrastructure. As a consequence, achieving sustainable development remains a mirage.

Mr. Sankar observed that a major portion of the municipal funds received from the government were enough for maintenance and administrative costs.

It is imperative that the people are made to pay higher taxes though sometimes the hikes were meteoric.

Migration

As rural migration reaches unprecedented levels, cities increasingly come under anthropogenic pressure leaving the policy-makers and implementing agencies to scramble for clues.

“Proper planning and implementation of the policies in letter and spirit are the only solution for meaningful development.

As long as violations are regularised instead of being strictly penalised, people will be emboldened to deviate and the officials will keep extracting their pound of the flesh”, Mr. Sankar said.

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