Smart shame on Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation

Economic Survey 2017 exposes poor show of municipal body; Pune scores far ahead of Bhubaneswar

Published: 01st February 2017 06:18 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st February 2017 06:18 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: The Odisha Government may still be gloating over the Smart City tag to Bhubaneswar but the Economic Survey 2017 has debunked it. The poor performance of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) in key sectors, where reforms and improvements were required, has been thoroughly exposed.

In its Chapter 14, the Economic Survey 2017, released on Tuesday, discussed how cities can play a significant role in the cooperative federalism envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi by going to the urban local body (ULB) level where the concept of cooperative sub-federalism can come into play.
While analysing the initiatives launched by the Centre for urban rejuvenation and reforms, the Survey has analysed the progress made by major Cities of the country most of which featured in the Smart City Mission.

Bhubaneswar, which topped the Smart City challenge last year and has completed a year, ranks poorly on various parameters. In Availability of Services, it scores a little above 3.5 out of 10 and ranks 19 among 21 cities.
Similarly, ranking of ULBs on Transparency, Accountability and Participation sees the State Capital securing six out of 10 and placed 13 among 21 cities. Incidentally, this happens to be the highest ranking among four key parameters. Pune, which came second in the Smart City challenge, is way ahead of Bhubaneswar.

A key factor that Bhubaneswar was required to improve was its revenue earning but here too, it falls on its face. In the analysis of ULBs on Own Revenue as a Percentage of Total Expenditure, the State Capital scores marginally above two out of 10 and ranks 17 among 21 cities. In case of Capital Expenditure per capita, the City is down in the bottom - 20 out of 21 - by scoring 0.5 of 10.

With Property Tax approximately 36 per cent of its own revenue, Bhubaneswar ranks 11 among 19 cities in the parameter Property Tax of ULBs as a Percentage of Own Revenue. Incidentally, Property Tax was a pre-requisite for funding under JNURM but its imposition hung fire despite a Cabinet approval. The Act was notified in August 2015, a few months ahead of the Smart City challenge.

Though self assessment, 85 per cent property under tax net and 90 per cent collection are specified as mandatory reforms after the 74th Amendment of the Constitution, BMC collects holding tax, lighting tax and even latrine tax. It has been a year since it was declared Smart City No 1 and the first year milestones submitted in the proposal are nowhere to be seen.
The Economic Survey is silent on any best practices from Bhubaneswar which had, not long ago, received an award at Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona.

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