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Norms and standards of municipal basic services in India

Indian cities present a grim picture with regard to availability of basic services. The problems are not only of the shortage of services but also inequitable distribution of the services among the different sections of society. This paper says that any attempt to deal with the situation calls for a systematic review of norms and standards for provision, operation and maintenance of municipal services, as suggested by different committees and expert groups. It also makes an attempt to review these norms and standards both in physical and in financial terms, and examine their implications on the municipal bodies of the country.

The paper is based on the secondary data obtained from the various published documents such as reports of State Finance Commission, City Development Plans prepared under JNNURM etc. The resource gaps have been worked out by updating the O & M norms and Per Capita Resource Generation at the 2004-05 prices.

The paper makes the following suggestions to improve the coverage and quality of the core municipal services:

  • the norms and standards suggested by various organisations and agencies should be revised periodically or at a fixed interval of time to improve and upgrade the services.
  • in order to have a good financial cushion, efforts should be made to eliminate the financial constraints and to generate the municipal resources.
  • thrust should be given to cost recovery mechanisms.
  • a finance development fund should be set up to reduce the resource gaps.
  • if the maintenance of services is contracted out to a private sector, the local body should strictly monitor the maintenance contract.