Why is Delhi not among the top three cities in an annual city survey?
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Why is Delhi not among the top three cities in an annual city survey?

Delhi’s infrastructure is much better than most other cities. Despite this, cities like Pune, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram are ahead of the capital in the Annual Survey of India City System.

Why is Delhi not among the top three cities in an annual city survey?

If the Annual Survey of India City System (ASICS), conducted by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy is to be believed, the public service delivery and governance of all three municipal bodies in the national capital has improved, even if marginally. Out of 23 cities from 18 states, Delhi has secured the sixth position this year. In 2016, Delhi had been ranked ninth in the survey.

Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, a Bengaluru-based independent institution, highlights inadequacies in urban governance by evaluating public service delivery and quality of life in India’s cities and towns. It defines quality of life in context to the quality of the existing public services.

Pune has secured the first rank this year, followed by Kolkata. Thiruvananthapuram, which had secured the first position last year, was ranked third this year.

According to Srikant Viswanathan, CEO of Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, the cities were evaluated on the basis of their capacities and resources. Cities having legitimate political representations, along with transparency and public participation, scored high on the survey.

The municipal corporations of every city surveyed were asked 83 questions pertaining to things such as quality of life, master plan, capacity and infrastructure. For instance, corporations were asked if they had any prescribed urban design standards to guide the execution of urban projects. Some other questions were: Does the standard development plan include objectives on job and economy? Is the municipal corporation capable of generating revenue for its annual infrastructure development plan?

Speaking to City Spidey, Viswanathan said, “Overall, Indian cities have been scoring low in terms of the survey parameters. Development will be difficult if the overall growth pattern remains this way.”

Viswanathan told City Spidey that in Delhi, fragmentation of the power system and involvement of multiple agencies were major issues. “Infrastructure-wise, Delhi is comparatively much better than many other cities. However, the system for public participation is weak,” said Viswanathan. He added, “People in Delhi have no role on budget preparation. Moreover, the mayors have a short tenure and limited powers.”

However, ASICS does not measure quality of infrastructure and services such as roads and traffic, garbage, water, housing, sanitation and air pollution, among others. “It only measures the preparedness of cities to deliver high-quality infrastructure and service in the long term by evaluating city systems. Our survey is based on spatial planning and design standard, municipal finance, municipal staffing, political leadership at the city level, and transparency and citizen participation,” informed Viswanathan.