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Types of Urban Governments

The following eight types of urban local bodies are created in India for the administration of urban areas:

  1. Municipal Corporation
  2. Municipality
  3. Notified Area Committee
  4. Town Area Committee
  5. Cantonment Board
  6. Township
  7. Port Trust
  8. Special Purpose Agency

  1. Municipal Corporation

The urban local government which works for the development of any Metropolitan City with a population of more than one million is known as the Municipal Corporation.

The members of the Municipal Corporation are directly elected by the people and are called Councilors.

Members of a Municipal Corporation

The Municipal Corporation consists of a committee which includes a Mayor with Councilors.

The Corporations provide necessary community services to the Metropolitan Cities and are formed under the Corporation Act of 1835 of the Panchayati Raj system.

The Mayor heads the Municipal Corporation. The corporation remains under the charge of Municipal Commissioner. The Executive Officers along with the Mayor and Councilors monitor and implement the programs related to planning the development of the corporation.

The number of Councilors also depends upon the area and population of the city. In India, the four metropolitan cities; Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, have the largest corporations.



The elections to the Municipal Corporations are conducted under the guidance, direction, superintendence and control of the State Election Commission.

The corporations fall under the State government jurisdiction, therefore there are no uniform provisions for the election of the municipal bodies.

In some States, the elections are organised by the state governments, while in some states, the Executive Officers arrange the same.

The Term of a Municipal Corporation

The office of Municipal Corporation runs for a period of five years since the beginning of its first meeting. It is subject to dissolution under various circumstances:

  1. If the State finds the Corporation lagging in its duties
  2. If the State finds the corporation exceeding or abusing its power
  3. Declaration of the Municipal elections in the State as void, or withdrawal of the entire area of the ward from the municipal operations.

Functions of a Municipal Corporation

The Municipal Corporation looks after providing the essential services to the people of that district/area which includes:

  1. Hospitals
  2. Water Supply
  3. Drainage
  4. Market places
  5. Fire Brigades
  6. Roads
  7. Over Bridge
  8. Solid Waste
  9. Street Lightning
  10. Parks
  11. Education
  12. Birth and Death Records in the Area
  13. Roles and Duties of a Councillor

The Councilors under the Municipal Corporations perform the following duties:

  1. To work towards the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole.
  2. To participate in the council meetings, council committee meetings and meetings of other related bodies.
  3. To participate in developing and evaluating the programs and policies of the municipality
  4. To keep the privately discussed matters in council meetings in confidence.
  5. To get all the information from the chief administrative officer about the operation and administration of the municipality.
  6. To perform any other similar or necessary duties.

  1. Municipality

Municipalities in India came into being in the British era. The first of the municipalities in India was in the city of Chennai as the Municipal Corporation in the year 1688.

This was followed by the setting up of the subsequent municipalities in India in the states of Maharashtra and West Bengal. Presidents of these municipalities in India were elected by Lord Mayo’s Resolution of 1870.

The present structure and configuration of the municipalities of India came into being after Lord Ripon’s Resolution of 1882. The basic structure of the municipalities in India has not changed much since 1882. In the year 1992, the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act came into being and brought with it specifications regarding the responsibilities and the powers of the municipal units in India. The periodical elections followed the 1992 Act with timely elections and reconstruction of the municipal government.

The number of councilors in a particular municipal area depends upon the total population of that region. Also, the elected councilors are the ones who choose among the nominated councilors.

The Municipalities of India are headed by the Municipal Commissioner whose tenure of operation is fixed by the State Statue. All the powers and responsibilities of the Municipal Commissioner are also provided by the Statue of the State. The functions of Municipalities are divided into two parts – discretionary and Obligatory. Some of the discretionary functions of the Municipalities of India are:

Functions of a Municipality:

  1. The construction, diversion, maintenance and improvement of streets, bridges, squares, gardens, tanks, ghats, wells, channels, drains, latrines and urinals.
  2. The watering and cleaning of streets.
  3. Water-supply.
  4. Conservancy including sewage disposal.
  5. Acquiring, keeping and equipping of open spaces for public purposes.
  6. Planting and preservation of trees.
  7. Construction of dwelling houses.
  8. Maintenance and improvement of education.
  9. Construction and maintenance of hospitals, dispensaries, orphanages, maternity houses, dharmasalas, guest houses etc.
  10. Promotion of vaccination.
  11. Prevention of the spread of dangerous diseases.
  12. Construction and maintenance of municipal markets and slaughter houses.
  13. Assistance to public libraries.
  14. Giving of relief in time of famine, scarcity or any other natural calamity.
  15. Urban Planning including town planning.
  16. Disposal of the dead animals or bodies.
  17. Establishment and maintenance of burial grounds.
  18. Implementation of the planning in the municipal area as a part of the district plans.
  19. Regulation of slaughter houses and tanneries.
  20. Fire Services.
  21. Urban forestry and protection of the environment.
  22. Safeguarding the interest of the weaker section.
  23. Slum improvement and up-gradation;
  24. Promotion of urban amenities.
  25. Registration of births and deaths.
  26. Regulation of slaughter houses and tanneries.
  27. Adult education and non-formal education.
  28. Health and family planning.
  29. Welfare of SC and ST.
  30. Maintenance of municipal markets.
  31. Maintenance of monuments and historical places.
  32. Clearing Public Street and places; etc.

  1. Notified Area Council

A Nagar Panchayat or Notified Area Council (NAC) or City Council in India is a settlement in transition from rural to urban.

The 74th Amendment made provisions relating to urban local government. The three-tier structure is municipal corporation, municipal council and nagar panchayat.


Each Nagar Panchayat has a committee consisting of a Chairman/Mayor along with ward members. There are at least ten elected ward members and three nominated members. NAC members of the Nagar Panchayat are elected from the wards of the Nagar Panchayat on the basis of adult franchise for a term of five years.

There are seats reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes and women. The councillors or ward members chosen by direct election from electoral wards in the Nagar Panchayat.


The Chairman is the head of the Notified Area Committee. The Executive Officer is the official in charge of the Notified Area Council.

Executive Officers monitor the implementation of all the programs related to planning and development of the Notified Area Council with the coordination of the NAC Chairman and all ward members.


  1. Essential services and facilities to the urban area.
  2. Sanitation programme.
  3. Street lighting and providing roads in wards and main roads of town.
  4. Schools in urban areas.
  5. Programme for adult literacy and run city libraries.
  6. Water supply to every ward of urban area.
  7. Drainage system to clear the solid and liquid wastes from town.
  8. Culverts for underground drainage system.
  9. Records of births and deaths.


Nagar panchayats derive income from taxes including those on water, pilgrimage, markets and transport services. They also receive a mixed grant from the state government, in proportion to the land revenue and money for works and schemes assigned to them.

  1. Town Area Committee

A town area committee is set up for the administration      of a small town. It is a semi-municipal authority and is entrusted with a limited number of civic functions like drainage, roads, street lighting, and conservancy.

It is created by a separate Act of a state legislature. Its composition, functions and other matters are governed by the Act.

It may be wholly elected or wholly nominated by the state government or partly elected and partly nominated

  1. Cantonment Board

A Cantonment Board is one of civic administration body in India under control of Ministry of Defence.

The Board comprises elected members besides ex-officio and nominated members as per the Cantonments Act, 2006. The term of office of a member of a Board shall be five years.

The Cantonment Board consists of eight elected Members, three nominated Military Members, three Ex-officio Members (Station Commander, Garrison Engineer and senior executive Medical Officer), one representative of the District Magistrate. Cantonments is divided into four categories, namely,

  1. Category I – population exceeds fifty thousand
  2. Category II – population exceeds ten thousand, but does not exceed fifty thousand
  3. Category III – population exceeds two thousand five hundred, but does not exceed ten thousand
  4. Category IV – population does not exceed two thousand five hundred.

It takes care of mandatory duties like of provision of public health, water supply, sanitation, primary education and street lighting etc.

As the resources are owned by government of India, it can’t levy any tax. The Government of India provides the financial assistance.

  1. Township

This type of urban government is established by the large public enterprises to provide civic amenities to its staff and workers who live in the housing colonies built near the plant.

The enterprise appoints a town administrator to look after the administration of the township. He is assisted by some engineers and other technical and non-technical staff. Thus, the township form of urban government has no elected members. In fact, it is an extension of the bureaucratic structure of the enterprises.

  1. Port trusts

The Port Trusts are established in the port areas like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and so on, for two purposes:

  1. To manage and protect the ports.
  2. To provide civil amenities.

A port trust is created by an Act of Parliament. It consists of both elected and nominated members. Its Chairman is an official. Its civic functions are more or less similar to those of a Municipality.

  1. Special Purpose Agency

In addition to the area- based urban bodies (or multipurpose agencies, i.e., municipal corporations, municipalities, notified area committees, town area committees, cantonment boards, townships and port trusts), the State Governments have set up certain agencies to undertake designated activities or specific functions which legitimately, belong to the domain of municipal corporations or municipalities or other local urban governments. In other words, these are function-based and not area based.

They are known as ‘single purpose’ or ‘uni-purpose’ or ‘special purpose’ agencies or ‘functional’ local bodies. Some such bodies are:

  1. Town Improvement Trusts.
  2. Urban Development Authorities.
  3. Water Supply and Sewerage Boards.
  4. Housing Boards.
  5. Pollution Control Boards.
  6. Electricity Supply Boards.
  7. City Transport Boards.

These functional local bodies are established as statutory bodies by an act of state legislature or as departments by an executive resolution.

They function as autonomous bodies and deal with the functions allotted to them independently of the local urban government, that is, municipal corporations or municipalities and so forth. Thus, they are not subordinate agencies of the local municipal bodies.

Municipal Personnel

There are three types of municipal personnel systems in India. The personnel working in the urban governments may belong to any one or all the three types. These are:

  1. Separate Personnel System:

Under this system, each local body appoints, administers, and controls its own personnel. They are not transferable to other local bodies. It is the most widely prevalent system.

This system upholds the principle of local autonomy and promotes undivided loyalty.

  1. United Personnel System:

In this system, the state government appoints, administers, and controls the municipal personnel. In other words, state-wise services (cadres) are created for all the urban bodies in the state. They are transferable between the local bodies in the state.

This system is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh and so on.

  1. Integrated Personnel System:

Under this system, the personnel of the state government and those of the local bodies form part of the same service. In other words, the municipal personnel are the members of the state services.

They are transferable not only between the local bodies in the state but also between local bodies and departments of state government. Thus, there is no distinction between local civil service and state civil service.

This system is prevalent in Orissa, Bihar, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana and others.

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