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"We need to reverse the process of Local Governance"

The massive infrastructure spending by the Delhi Government for the Commonwealth Games has transformed Delhi's landscape, but the city is still nowhere close to a London or Dubai.

Puja Mehraand twitter-logoManu Kaushik | Print Edition: May 30, 2010

The massive infrastructure spending by the Delhi Government for the Commonwealth Games has transformed Delhi's landscape, but the city is still nowhere close to a London or Dubai. Rakesh Mehta, Chief Secretary, Government of Delhi, spoke to BT's Puja Mehra and Manu Kaushik about the need to overhaul the city-state's governance structure to deliver world-class services.

Resource itself is not a major constraint. It may be one of the limiting factors but the main obstacle is bad governance. Since there is no property titling system, the corporation is losing out on property tax collection, stamp duty for registration and building licences. Both governance and delivery systems are very poor.

People question why they should pay taxes when the service is so poor. There is a lack of confidence among citizens in urban authorities who manage the system.

The reason why European and western systems are better managed is because they have a greater degree of accountability to the community. Unless that level of accountability can be enforced, it is not going to work. But it can be done. A lot of things depend on the Mayor and the Commissioner.

We are preparing a ward-level action plan, for instance. It's basically to reverse the process of governance as far as local bodies are concerned. Start from the bottom and go to the top, unlike the existing model in which you start from the top and go to the bottom.

I won't say that Delhi model can be replicated in other Indian cities because migration into Delhi is much higher than other areas. Secondly, it is close to five states. Therefore, there are transport connectivity issues. But I can say that many things that we have done are exemplary.

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