Reforms outlined for urban renewal

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Mandatory Reforms proposed in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, launched on Saturday, asks municipal bodies to levy reasonable user charges (for basic services) so that the full cost of operation and maintenance were collected within seven years.

They would have to reform property tax to raise collection efficiency to 85 per cent. Basic services to the urban poor, including security of tenure, should be provided at affordable prices.

The other Mandatory Reforms for local urban bodies include adoption of modern, accrual-based, double entry system of accounting; introduction of a system of e-governance using IT applications and internal earmarking of budgets for basic services to the urban.

The Mandatory Reforms earmarked for State Governments are "effective" implementation of decentralisation as envisaged in the Constitution (74th) Amendment Act, 1992; repeal of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976; reform of Rent Control laws; rationalisation of stamp duty; enactment of public disclosure law, enactment of community participation law and association of elected municipalities with city planning function.

The Optional Reforms call for revision of bye-laws to streamline the approval process for construction of buildings, development sites; simplification of legal and procedural framework for conversion of farm land for non-agricultural purposes; introduction of property title certification; structural reforms and encouraging public-private partnership.