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Talking lifestyle? Pune ranks one above Mumbai

Saturday, 7 June 2014 - 7:07am IST | Place: Pune | Agency: dna

With New York and London as benchmark, a survey puts the city at number eight, one notch above the state capital
  • A birds eye view of Pune east.

It is official. Punekars are better placed than their counterparts in Mumbai when it comes to lifestyle. In the Annual Survey of India’s City Systems 2014, which was carried out by Janaagraha Center for Citizenship and Democracy on 21 cities, Pune has been placed at number eight, one notch ahead of Mumbai. What’s more, the survey has also applauded the city’s efforts in governance—no other city except Pune participates in the budgeting process. However, Pune fares poor when it comes to urban planning and design, with Mumbai stealing the show. 

The survey was conducted while keeping London and New York as the benchmark cities on a scale of 10. The survey was carried out on the basis of four parameters—Urban planning and design, urban capacities and resources, empowered political representation, transparency and participation.While London and New York scored 9.6 and 9.3 respectively, Pune managed to get a score of 3.5. 

Not yet world-class but city beats capital

If London and New York are considered the benchmarks, then our cities lag far behind in terms of planning and lifestyle, says a survey of 21 Indian cities. The Annual Survey of India’s City Systems 2014, which was carried out by Janaagraha Center for Citizenship and Democracy setting, however, puts Kolkata at the leading spot. Pune manages to bag position eight while Mumbai ranks nine in the survey.

In the survey, the center gave ratings to cities on a scale of 10. While London and New York scored 9.6 and 9.3 respectively, Pune managed to get a score of 3.5. 
“The city systems framework is divided into four aspects—urban planning and design, urban capacities and resources, empowered and legitimate political representation and transparency, accountability and participation,” said Ramesh Samanathan, chief author of the report. According to him, every country performed poorly in all the four aspects.
While Pune and Mumbai were the two major cities which were included in the survey, the performance of the two not been good. “Pune stood eight in the overall assessment after averaging the scores of all the four aspects, while Mumbai was ninth in the list,” added Samanathan. According to the findings, the cities had to improve on four major areas for proper urban development and improvement in city systems.

Spatial Development and Urban Planning a necessity
The country’s urban population is anticipated to increase from 377 million to 600 million by 2030, but most of the major cities have poor urban planning with no spatial development plans. Though Delhi leads other cities by scoring 3.5 out of 10, it was nowhere close to the benchmark cities.
According to the National Urban and Spatial Development Plan, the main reason for poor planning is the use old development plans, some of which date back to the British era. While all the cities performed bad, Pune and Mumbai scored 1.8 and 2.4 respectively.
“Indian cities are planned with a 20-year tenure and lack a continuous urban planning and development cell. The fringe areas of Pune are developing and if no action is taken now, future planning will be a mess” said Anagha Purohit, a city-based town planner.
Among all the four aspects of city systems framework, Pune has scored the lowest in urban planning and the design part. “The first step that needs to be taken is to form a Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority for continuous planning and development,” added Purohit.

Strong local govt representation needed
London and New York have scored a 10 and 8.3 in terms of empowered and legitimate political representation, whereas Indian cities performed poorly because of a lack in non inclusion of the State Election Commission (SEC) in the local body elections. Only Kolkata managed to score 6.9 , with a robust election process and high voter turnout.
While Pune showcased a considerable involvement of SEC in the local elections and a good voter turnout by scoring 10 and 5 in both the aspects, there was a considerable low score in terms of the role of the mayor in local governance. The city of Mumbai also did show a square 10 involvement of SEC in the local elections,but a poor voter turn out and mayor’s authority by scoring just a 2.5 and 2 out of 10 in both these aspects.
“The powers vested to the mayor are limited because it will help the state to keep a watch in the working of every city” said Vijay Kumbhar, president of Surajya Sangharsh Samitti.
The report indicated that the average tenure of a mayor was 2.5 years in the country, whereas Pune has a tenure of 1.5 years. “The tenure should not matter. The mayor should plan and implement policies in the time frame,” he added.

Want of financial Independence 
Local bodies in India lack in financial management, fiscal plans of budgeting and financial strength for making investments. While the benchmark cities scored a 10 on the financial management and autonomy of local city governments, Delhi scoring 4.3, leading other cities with better financial management and a staff of 1,260 per 1,00,000 population.
Pune shows a low institutional framework and financial management, but has adequate staffing. 

Public participation in the governance
The survey has applauded the efforts of Pune’s participation in governance by way of participatory budget. The survey mentions that expect Pune, no other Indian city participates in the budgeting process. The response for participatory budget is increasing every year. Last year, dna along with Janwani NGO had run a campaign to create awareness about the participatory budget so that more and more citizens can participate in PMC’s budgetary process.
Citizens also gave overwhelming response to the campaign. Last year, PMC had received 3,300 suggestions while in 2011, there were only 600 suggestions. 
Naim Keruwala, project consultant for Janwani who had taken various workshops for participatory budget said, “Participatory budget is the only activity due to which Pune has scored over other cities. The citizens of Pune are aware of their rights but we require more of their participation in other areas of governance to make Pune a better city.”

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