Without devolution of powers for ensuring all civic services under the one umbrella of an Urban Local Body (ULB) – a weak civic body always tends to prove a mess putting burden on the citizens. It’s A well known fact which every citizen living in a town or a city experiences.
Talking of the Shimla Municipal Corporation, where Mayor, deputy Mayor were directly elected five years back in 2012 due to a amendment by the then BJP government in the SMC act turned to be a even bigger road block for the progress of the city. Where in those direct elections Shimla MC was led by the leftist Mayor and Deputy Mayor the constitution of house became such that of 26 councilors in the city 12 were from the BJP and 10 were representing Congress and the rest were others. To the dismay of the directly elected Mayor and Deputy Mayor this situation became a different kind of challenge. They were in minority in the house, or to say ‘without the teeth.’ This also became a reason for the Congress led current Himachal government to scrap the direct election process, later on.
And this year’s elections of the SMC both the incumbents of Mayor and the Deputy Mayor would be elected by the councilors. Still the fate of the SMC as ULB would not change. No powers- no civic services. In fact, none of the state governments, whether of congress or BJP, are interested to delegate authority to the ULBs at the grass-root level. Moreover affected by their political affiliations, the city representatives (councilors) also do not raise any motion to ask for “Devolution of powers.
“Shimla MC owns nothing except water supplies (only half part) and sewerage of the city. This too happened due to the initiatives leftist Mayor and Deputy Mayor, who in the shadow of the 2016 Shimla Jaundice outbreak, managed it somehow, and the state government afraid of being directly humiliated in future let go,” stated Devinder an employee residing in Shimla. He said otherwise they are neither responsible for electricity, nor do they own any educational institution; neither are the roads of the city under their direct command and not even the fire services. Not to talk about health services and local transport system. Without all these services under one umbrella how SMC can be termed as the real civic body or so to say ULB-without backbone, he added.
Vikas a businessman from Shimla said “to all hopes from the leftist lead SMC in the past five years, it was expected that any such motion for Devolution of Powers would be surely moved by this ULB of the state Capital. However to the dismay nothing like that happened, except for political wars in the SMC house and cases between the Shimla Mayor and Dy. Mayor versus state government”.
So what is the solution? The answer seems to be of voters’ awareness, citizens’ pressure and implementation of the Central Act on Urban Local Bodies in letter and spirit for providing all teeth and shifting all civic services to the ULBs. When this will happen, only the time will tell. Till then limping ULBs will continue to put burden on the urban citizens with bare minimum facilities under civic services.