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Municipal Governance Sector

The Urban Development Department was merged with the Municipal Affairs Department vide an order of Home Department, Government of West Bengal, being No. 1006 - Home (Cons) / R2R (Cons)-08/2016 dated 19.12.2016 and the name of the unified Department became the Department of Urban Development & Municipal Affairs.
The urban governance through the ‘Urban Local Bodies' (ULBs) i.e. Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Notified Area Authorities , in the state of West Bengal dates back to British regime in 18th.century. The first municipal mechanism created during British rule was the Municipal Corporation, set up in the former presidency town of Madras (today Chennai) in 1688 with a view to transfer the financial responsibility of local administration to the newly created corporation. The Mayor's Courts were established in each of the three Presidency towns, Madras, Bombay and Calcutta through the Royal Charter of 1720. In 1882, the then Viceroy of India, Lord Ripon's resolution of local self-government laid the democratic forms of municipal governance in India. The current form and the structure of municipal bodies are based on Lord Ripon's Resolutions, which was adopted in 1882 as local self-government. The Government of India Act, 1919 incorporated the need for conferment of power to a democratically elected government. This act has another development towards the evolution of urban local bodies in India. In 1935, another Government of India Act brought the local government under the purview of the state of the provincial government and specific powers were given, to those local self-governments.
As a matter of fact, Kolkata Municipal Corporation or “KMC” (earlier known as Calcutta Municipal Corporation) is one of the oldest municipal bodies of the country. In 1726, a Mayor's court was established by a Royal Charter. With the expansion of British Government by making Calcutta as a capital of British India in 1773, the municipal services grow up. In 1847 the electoral system was introduced for the first time and the idea of Calcutta Corporation begins to start. In 1876 a new Corporation was created with 72 Commissioners. In 1923, Corporation stands its existence by important changes by Rashtraguru Surendranath Bannerjee, the 1st minister for local self government. The Calcutta Corporation act, 1980 changed the existing system of the corporation. This alteration was more effective and more systematic so far municipal service is concerned, which came into force in 1984.
The Act of 1884 remained in action for almost half of a century. In 1923, Surendranath Banerjee, the then Minister-in-Charge of local self government of the Bengal Provincial Government drafted an alternative bill, but it could not be passed in the Bengal Legislative Council. In 1932, the same bill was passed known as the Bengal Municipal Act-1932. Although the said act was amended several times since its birth, it remained in force until 1993 when the West Bengal Municipal Act 1993 replaced it. The Bengal Municipal Act, 1932 brought about several innovative changes in municipal governance in the presidency. The post-Independence era witnessed repeated amendments to the Bengal Municipal Act of 1932 in order to face the challenge of rapid urbanization in the state. In between 1960 to 1980, the act underwent twenty amendments. The 1962 Amendment of the Act introduced universal adult franchise in local body elections. It not only changed many of the earlier provisions of the Act but also added a number of new provisions. It was a watershed in the changing scenario of municipalisation in the state. Some provisions of the Bengal Municipal (Amendment) Act of 1980 were enforced from 2nd April 1981, others came into effect from October 1982.
Rapid urbanization in the state over the past few decades is witnessed in the growth of municipal bodies. The numbers of municipal towns have gone up from 93 in 1951 to 122 in 2000. The introduction of a new act in 1993 for the governing of municipalities in West Bengal was a landmark in the history of municipal reforms in the state. The need for replacing the Bengal Municipal Act 1932 was felt on various grounds. Having originated in the pre-independence period, it could no longer fulfill the aspirations of the growing urban population even after several amendments since independence, as these amendments had to be made within the existing framework of the said act.
The BMA Act of 1932 was replaced by the West Bengal Municipal Act, 1993. The relevant bill was still awaiting the President's assent when the 74th Constitution Amendment came into force. As a result, it incorporated the provisions of the 74th Amendment Act and the revised bill was passed by the State Assembly in 1993. Subsequently, the 1993 Act was further amended in 1994, 96, 97, 99 and 2000, in order to remove the deficiencies encountered during its implementation.
The West Bengal Municipal Act 1993, introduced wide ranging alterations in municipal governance in the State. Various academicians, constitutional experts acknowledged that, the act is way ahead of similar acts of other states in respect of structure, autonomy of municipal governments, decentralization of power and functions.
The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 is very important for the urban local bodies. This Constitutional Amendment Act recognized urban local bodies (ULBs) as the third tier of urban government by assigning them specific civic functions. The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act requires the state governments to amend their municipal laws in order to empower ULBs "with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as institutions of self governance". It provides a basis for the State Legislatures to guide the State Governments in the assignment of various responsibilities to municipalities and to strengthen municipal governance. There have been provisions in the Amendment Act with regard to the role, power, function and finance of Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). It has given stress on the decentralisation of power by strengthening the democracy at local level. It prescribes a near uniform local government structure valid throughout the country. By this enactment, ULBs have become a crucial third tier of government after central and state government. Before the enactment of the act, the functions, financial power of ULBs were not up to the mark as most of the states were unwilling to recognize the function of ULB.
Besides legislative changes relating to local urban bodies in West Bengal, urban governance underwent major institutional overhauling in the 1970's and 1980's to meet the emerging challenges of rapid urbanization. Municipal administrative reform was the core of this evolutionary process. The West Bengal Mission obtained the assurance of the government of West Bengal for major legislative and institutional reforms in the following areas: (a) improvement of the resource base of local bodies; (b) introduction of better financial management practices, and (c) cost recovery and sound operations and maintenance in the delivery of urban services.
The then Government in West Bengal replaced the name the 'Local Government and Urban Development Department' by 'Municipal Affairs Department', the latter connotes a wider concept. Municipal Affairs Department created four wings to help the municipalities to perform their functions more efficiently. The Directorate of Local Bodies is concerned with all administrative and legal matters besides the administering of municipal acts. The Municipal Engineering Directorate provides technical assistance to local bodies. The State Valuation Board revises the assessment of property tax every five years and the Institute of Local Government and Urban Studies is assigned the responsibility of training the personnel and functionaries at different levels of municipalities and developing a data bank on municipal affairs for research. The urban governance in West Bengal is being implemented through 118 nos. of Municipalities / Notified Area Authorities and 7 nos. of Municipal Corporations.

Urban Development Sector

The Urban Development Branch of this Department presently has three wings viz.-Metropolitan Development (MD), Town and Country Planning (T&CP) and Urban Land Ceiling (ULC), each of which has a different history of its own.
In 1947 after the partition of Bengal, there was an exodus of people from Bangladesh, the then East Pakistan, and thereby increasing the population of Calcutta rapidly. Helmed in by the Hooghly on the west and the marshes and brackish lakes in the east, the city could grow only in the north –south direction. Dr.Bidhan Chandra Roy, ex-Chief Minister of West Bengal founded the city of Kalyani, about 30 miles in the north of Calcutta to accommodate those hapless people. But this did not succeed. So as an alternative solution Salt Lake had to be developed. On September 18, 1953, the Dutch engineering from Nedeco started surveying the salt water lakes on the invitation of Dr.Roy. On February, 1955, a government gazette notification was published regarding the acquisition of 173.4 acres for the reclamation of the north of Salt lake area. By May, 1956 the government had taken over the land. The erstwhile Yugoslav firm Invest Import selected by a global tender was entrusted with the reclamation work of the swampy land area. On April 16 , 1962 , Dr. Roy switched on the delivery pipeline bringing forth a gushing flow of sandy slurry from the bed of the Hooghly in the salt lakes. Reclamation of Sector-I of modern Salt Lake Township was completed in 1965, Sectors II & III in 1969. Sector I, II & III have been developed mainly as residential area whereas Sector IV and V have been converted to mainly commercial with Jhilmil (Safari Park) and resettlement Blocks.

In 1961 the Kolkata Metropolitan Planning Organization, the first of its kind in India, was set up through a resolution of the Development and Planning Dept, to develop a comprehensive development plan for the Metropolis of Calcutta. Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA), the largest urban agglomeration in eastern India, extends over 1886.67 and envelopes 3 Municipal Corporations including Kolkata municipal Corporation ,39 Municipalities and Panchayat Samities KMA held a population of around 17 million according to 2011 Census , as against total urban population of West Bengal of about 29 million. KMDA established in 1970 under the Presidential Ordinance and later sanctified under the KMDA Act of 1972 functioned essentially as a development agency with the specific purpose of carrying out major infrastructure development agency and with the specific purpose of carrying out major infrastructure development in KMA. With the enactment of the West Bengal Town & Country (Planning & Development) Act, 1979 the KMDA was designated as the statutory planning and development authority for KMA. KMDA is a parastatal –an authority functioning under the administrative control of the Urban Development & Municipal Affairs Department. Later on, the Department has gradually set up the 18 other Development Authorities throughout the State. The purpose of setting up of these Development Authorities was all-round development and preparation of Land Use Development and Control Plan (LUDCP) of the local areas. All the above Development Authorities were created under the provisions of the West Bengal Town & Country (Planning) Act, 1979 by the wing of the Urban Development Branch of this Department.
For all round development of certain other local areas, Kanchrapara Area Development Scheme e.g.-Kalyani Township and Patipukur Township were undertaken by the Development & Planning Department in the fifties and sixties, respectively. Later on, as the activities of these two Sectors gradually gained momentum two full fledged offices in the name and style of Kalyani Estate Office and Patipukur Estate Office were established under the said Development and Planning Department.
In the year of 1966, Calcutta Metropolitan Water & Sanitation Authority (CMW & SA) was established for implementation of a large-scale urban infrastructure development programme, the objective of which was to arrest the rapid deterioration in the urban involvement of Kolkata Metropolitan Area and to address the emerging urban aspirations of the urban people.

 In 1912 Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT) had started operation with a programme of development of urban infrastructure of the city of Kolkata in terms of the Calcutta Improvement Trust Act, 1911. Both (CIT) KIT and (CMW&SA) KMW & SA were later placed under the administrative control and supervision of the KMDA w.e.f. 28.04.2017 in terms of Kolkata Improvement Trust and Kolkata Metropolitan Water & Sanitation Authority repealing Act and amendment of the West Bengal Town & Country (Planning & Development) Act, 2017 for integration and quicker implementation of various Urban Development Projects within the KMA.
The Urban Land Ceiling Branch with a directorate at Kolkata and sub-divisional offices in the districts were set-up by the Land and Land Reforms Department under the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act, 1976. Later on, it was brought under the control of the Urban Development Department.

In the late sixties Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) was setup under the HRBC Act, 1969 for the purpose of construction of the third bridge across the river Hooghly. It was, subsequently transferred to the Transport Department.
In the pace of rapid urbanization and growing demand for housing and commercial spaces, the New Town, Kolkata was created in the eastern outskirts of Kolkata to serve the dual purposes of:
•    establishing new business centre to reduce the mounting pressure on the existing Central Business Districts (CBD) and
•    Increasing housing stock supply by creating new residential units.
The New Town Kolkata Development Authority has been constituted under The New Town Kolkata Development Authority Act, 2007 (The West Bengal Act XXX of 2007) for rendering various civic services and amenities within New Town, Kolkata and it has come into effect since November, 2008.
The area of entire township is comprised of 34 Mouzas (both part and full) falling in areas of Airport Police Station, Rajarhat Police Station and Kolkata Leather Complex Police Station.
The Development Authority has been vested with the various powers and functions under the said Act.
It is a transitional arrangement in the way of creation of an Urban Local Body (ULB).


Janab Firhad Hakim

Address: Nagarayan, DF-8, Sector-I, Salt Lake, Kolkata - 700064
Phone: 2358-3500

Principal Secretary

Shri Binod Kumar, IAS

Address: Nagarayan, DF-8, Sector-I, Salt Lake, Kolkata - 700064
Phone: 2334-9394
Fax: 2334 7880

Nodal Officer

Shri Supriya Adhikari, WBCS(Exe.), Joint Secretary

Address: Nagarayan, DF-8, Sector-I, Salt Lake, Kolkata – 700064

Last updated on: Sunday, 31 December 2023
Information Source: Department of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal
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