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Provisions of 74th Constitution amendment helpful for local bodies. - Printable Version

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Provisions of 74th Constitution amendment helpful for local bodies. - Manish Jain - 07-31-2016

The act gave constitutional status to the municipalities. It has brought them under the purview of justiciable part of the Constitution. In other words, state governments are under constitutional obligation to adopt the new system of municipalities in accordance with the provisions of the act. The act aims at revitalising and strengthening the urban governments so that they function effectively as units of local government.

Article 243 of the Indian Constitution was amended by the Constitution (7[sup]th[/sup] Amendment) Act 1956, which brought in the definitions of Panchayats and Municipalities within the ambit of the Constitution. The 74th Constitutional Amendment brings in basic changes in the definition of Metropolitan Area, Municipal Area, and Municipality laid down in Article 243 P.
The salient features of the act are; Three Types of Municipalities The act provides for the constitution of the following three types of municipalities in every state.
I. A nagar panchayat (by whatever name called) for a transitional area, that is, an area in transition from a rural area to an urban area.
2. A municipal council for a smaller urban area.
3. A municipal corporation for a larger urban area'.

According to Article 243 P, Metropolitan Area means an area having a population of ten lakhs or more, comprised in one or more districts, and consisting of two or more Municipalities or Panchayats or other contiguous areas, specified by the Governor by public notification to be a Metropolitan Area for the purposes of this Part. Municipal Area means the territorial area of a Municipality as is notified by the Governor or State Government, and Municipality means an institution of self-government constituted under Article 243 Q.
The Amendment (Article 243 S) also provides for decentralization of municipal administration, wherein each Municipality will be divided into territorial constituencies known as Wards. Accordingly, one, or more than one, Ward, with a population of more than 3 lakhs, will constitute a Ward Committee. Ward Committees will consist of elected members of the Municipal Council who would represent the Wards of that particular Ward Committee. The councillors of all the wards in the Ward Committee will nominate the Chairperson of the Ward Committee.
Mandate of 74[sup]th[/sup] amendment
1. Emphasis on Economic Development and Social Justice Article 243G and clause (a) of article
243W as inserted by the 73rd and 74[sup]th[/sup] Amendments to the Constitution, inter-alia, provide the new constitutional context for planning in the Panchayats and the Municipalities in India. These articles in the respective cases, lay emphasis on the following provisions :
In article 243G and Article 243W, on the preparation of plans for economic development and social justice, in in article 243G, for the implementation of schemes for economic development and social justice as may be entrusted to them including those in relation to most of the matters listed in The Eleventh Schedule, and
In article 243W, for the performance  of functions and implementation of schemes as may be entrusted to them including those in relation to matters listed in The Twelfth Schedule. There are 18 major functions out of which some are very ambitious in origin and some are conventional. The objective was to put an end to para-statal organisations like Urban Authorities. But the Amendment is not clear on how a State will be able to remove these obstructions and eventually leaves it to the State’s discretion. The details of the powers and functions enumerated under the Twelfth Schedule are as follows:
1.       Urban planning including town planning.
2.       Regulation of land-use and construction of buildings.
3.       Planning for economic and social development.
4.       Roads and bridges.
5.       Water supply for domestic, industrial and commercial purposes.
6.       Public health, sanitation conservancy and solid waste management.
7.       Fire services.
8.       Urban forestry, protection of the environment and promotion of ecological aspects.
9.       Safe guarding the interests of weaker sections of society, including the handicapped and mentally retarded.
10.   Slum improvement and upgradation.
11.   Urban poverty alleviation.
12.   Provision of urban amenities and facilities such as parks, gardens, and playgrounds.
13.   Promotion of cultural, educational and aesthetic aspects.
14.   Burials and burial grounds, cremations, cremation grounds and electric crematoriums.
15.   Cattle pounds; prevention of cruelty to animals.
16.   Vital statistics including registration of births and deaths.
17.   Public amenities including street lighting, parking lots, bus stops and public conveniences.
18.   Regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.

2. The Role of People’s Representatives and Citizens in all Planning Matters 

Article 243ZD on Committee for district planning (DPC) for each district, and article 243ZE on Committee for Metropolitan Planning (MPC) for each metropolitan area in the State, as the case may be, define the roles of the people’s representatives in planning matters in the municipal areas, the Metropolitan areas, and in the Panchayats, subject, however, to the fact that both the Committees shall forward their Draft Development Plans to the State Government.

3. State Finance Commission
One of the important features of the Constitutional Amendment is the constitution of the Finance Commission (Article 243 Y) once every five years, which will make recommendations regarding sharing of finances between State and Municipality and also suggest ways for improving finances and determine grant in aids. The auditing of accounts is the duty of the State Legislature (Article 243 Z) that will make provisions for the maintenance of accounts by the Municipality. Article 280 of the Constitution was amended to bring in effect the financial needs of State governments in the context of the requirements of local bodies and reports of the State Finance Commission.