Why the battle against COVID-19 pandemic is turned into a war in Indian Metropolitan cities?

Divya's Dietu - Health Bites 4-Aug-2020

Why the battle against COVID-19 pandemic is turned into a war in Indian Metropolitan cities?

Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi, and Kolkata are the major metropolitan cities where the covid-19 cases are drastically increasing day by day. Of course! Population is the most obvious reason. Social distancing every time is nearly impossible. But is it acceptable to put the complete blame on people?


  • First thing is first, India's doctor-population ratio is low. According to the WHO, there should be one doctor for 1000 people. But in India it is 1:1500. There are not enough doctors, healthcare officers especially in metros to work with the sick. With limited staffing, it is difficult to manage the disaster.

  • The Government cannot concentrate only on the pandemic. There are other things like natural and man-made disasters to be taken care of. We are in the time of monsoons and who know when there will be a heavy rain or flooding. But why the state governance must look into everything? What happened to the metropolitan governance?

  • Yes! Now we have come to the actual problem in metros - Lack of governance architecture. Indian constitution mandates formation of Metropolitan Planning Committees (MPC). It is responsible to carryout development plans, has the authority to prioritize and carryout state government plans in the metros. But whether the MPC is formed in all the states or not is a big question mark.

  • Financial conditions of the metropolitan cities are not in a better shape now. The total expenditures exceed the total revenue. For example: Chennai is spending 30% more than the actual revenue, Mumbai 36%, Bengaluru 48%.

  • With all the staffing and finance situations, the metros are in desperate need for an authority. Currently, the mayor and councilor are not powerful enough to carry out their job. In majority of the metros, mayors are not directly elected by the public. Also, they have a tenure of just 1 or 2.5 years. It is very difficult for a mayor to pass any authoritative decision with such short tenure.

  • Moreover, mayors do not have full decision-making authority over critical issues like housing, water, fire, public transport, police, and emergency services. Everything lies in the hands of the state government. Having only the Chief Minister as political authority, it is difficult to expect transparency and citizen participation.

  • With mere citizen participation from ward committees and area sabhas, it is very critical to identify and aid the needy, enforcing quarantine and recruit volunteers for these purposes.

  • And finally, there are a number of NGOs involved in volunteering themselves to battle the pandemic. Inter-agency coordination lead by the city government is necessary at this hour for efficient tracking and action.

  • Central and State governments are doing their bests they can, but a strong look into the metropolitan governance and giving locals the authority is a must to handle this battle or war.