Peeved at the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) of Smart City usurping some of the constitutionally guaranteed powers of Panchayati Raj institutions, the Kochi Corporation has sought amendments to the powers of SPV.
Delegation of powers
It is the delegation of powers as mentioned in Annexure 5 of the Smart City proposal that has invited the wrath of the civic administrators.
Going by the guidelines, the Urban Local Body (ULB) will have to delegate a large chunk of its constitutionally delegated powers, including the planning of development and tax collection for the Smart City region, to the SPV.
Kochi Mayor Soumini Jain has shot off a letter to the Minister for Local Self Government, the State Chief Secretary and also the Secretary for Local Self Government Department, highlighting the apprehensions of the Corporation regarding the delegation of powers. The civic authorities chose to raise the banner of protest before the State authorities drew up the SPV for Kochi city.
Incidentally, Kochi was chosen as one of the 20 cities selected for the implementation of the project in its first phase.
The “decision-making powers of the ULB under the Municipal Act/ Government rules” will have to be delegated to the Chief Executive Officer of the SPV. The “approval or decision making powers of the Urban Development Department/ Local Self Government department / Municipal Administration department” will also go to the board of directors of the SPV in which the State and ULB are represented.
The right to “determine and collect user charges as authorised by the ULB” will also be vested with the SPV.
The Mission guidelines also authorises the SPV to “access funds from other sources such as debt, user charges, taxes, surcharges,” which would diminish the powers of the urban local body, pointed out the city’s civic administrators.