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Urban Administration in India

Last updated date: 28th Feb 2024
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Meaning and Structure of Urban Administration of India

Understanding the country's administration in which you live is of paramount importance. It gives you an insight into the country's governance, and above all, it makes you aware of the governance carried on in your country. 

Living in India means either rural or urban areas. The rural area means living in villages, whereas the urban area refers to towns and cities. These days, many people prefer living in urban areas rather than rural ones, and it might be on several accounts such as infrastructure, facilities, and the list goes on. 

But before deciding where to live, one should learn about the urban administration, its structure, and other things concerning it. 

Urban Administration - Meaning 

Municipal corporations and urban administration both are the same things. The primary aim of urban administration is to look after the basic amenities given to people and ensure their satisfaction. The concept of urban administration goes back to 1687 in Madras. As the years passed, many municipal corporations formed. 

Let us get down to the roles and responsibilities discharged by the urban local bodies. 

  • The urban local bodies work to develop their town and city, be it economic, financial, or legal. 

  • No matter the population size, it continues to carry its developmental functions. 

  • While governing its citizens, it ensures not to be biased and maintains transparency among different authorities of municipal corporations. 

Structure of Urban Administration 

The urban administration consists of eight types of urban local bodies. Let us understand each one by one. 

  • Municipal Corporation

Municipal corporations are usually found in big cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc. The acts of state legislatures and India's parliament help them get established. It is further divided into three authorities: the council, standing committees, and the commissioner. 

  • Municipality 

The smaller cities tend to have the provision of municipalities. The Municipalities are often called upon by other names such as the municipal council, municipal committee, municipal board, etc. It is also divided into three diverse authorities: the council, the standing committees, and the chief executive officer. 

  • Notified Area Committee 

The urban administration also consists of a notified area committee for the fast-developing towns and the towns lacking the basic amenities. The powers it shares are similar to the ones belonging to a municipality. Besides this, all the members of the notified area committee are nominated by the state government. 

  • Town Area Committee 

The town area committee is found in the small towns. Being a small town, it has minimal authority such as street lighting, drainage roads, and conservancy. 

  • Cantonment board 

The next department in urban local bodies is the cantonment board. It is usually set up for a civilian population living in the cantonment area. Unlike others, it is created and run by the central government. There are the following members on the cantonment board. 

  1. A military officer 

  2. An executive engineer

  3. A health officer 

  4. Eight elected members 

  5. Chief executive officer 

  6. Military officers 

  • Township 

Township is another form of urban government to provide basic facilities to the staff and workers living in the colonies established near the plant. It consists of technical, non-technical staff and some engineers. Consequently, it has no elected members and is merely an extension of the bureaucratic structure. 

  • Port Trust 

As the name itself indicates, port trusts are established in the port areas such as Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, etc. These have two purposes. 

It manages and takes care of the port. 

In addition to this, it also provides basic civic amenities to the people. 

  • Special Purpose Agency 

Besides the seven above-mentioned urban administration bodies, the states have set up some agencies also for the same. These agencies undertake the designated activities or specific functions belonging to the municipal corporations or municipalities. The people also refer to these as single-purpose, uni purpose, or special agencies. 

What is the Urban Administration in India?

The Urban Administration is also known as municipal governance. It takes care of all the duties which seek the comfortability of people living in urban areas. It takes care of the responsibility like a sweeper sweeping the streets early in the morning to switch on the street lights during the night. The first urban administration started in Madras in 1687. Later in 1726, the Calcutta municipal corporation and the Bombay municipal corporation had formed. As of now, The BMC is the largest municipal corporation in India.

If we observe the difference between rural and Urban Administration in India, the rural areas are further divisions of districts. As the geographical area and density of population are less, the rural administration can create a local body with the name of the gram panchayat.

The Urban Administration in India look after the following - 

  • It maintains effective, responsive, democratic, accountable local governance.

  • It encourages local citizens to participate in various development programs and take up key roles in the local bodies.

  • It always strives to maintain transparency among the people and authorities of municipal corporations. 

  • Even though the population is more than 5000 in every Urban area, the Urban Administration stood strong and worked for the economical, financial, legal, and more functionalities.

By this, we can understand why urban administration is important. 

Structure of Urban Administration in India 

The structure of urban administration or multiple governance may consist of various departments and people. They are as follows- 

  • Municipal Corporation

It is the largest and topmost local body in urban administration. If the city contains more than three lakhs people, then the state government will create a municipal corporation for that city and give authority to look after the city. The people of that particular area may reach out to this municipal corporation for any kind of queries related to that area.

What is the Difference Between the Municipal Council and the Municipal Corporation?

Both the municipal council and municipal corporation work on the same principle. But the only difference between a municipal corporation and a municipal council is the size of that particular urban area. If the area contains more than three lakh people, as we discussed above, the multiple governances can be looked after by municipal corporations. If the size of the urban area is less than 3 lakh people, then the local body created by the state government is the municipal council.

Personnel in Urban Administration

The municipal commissioner is the highest Authority of urban Administration. The state government elects an Indian administrative service officer for this designation and provides the required power to develop municipal corporations. Next, the mayor and the deputy mayor are elected by the members of the municipality commission. Their tenure is one year, and they are treated as honour heads to discuss various issues and attend multiple meetings.

In both municipal corporations and municipal councils, the town can be divided into multiple wards. The responsibility of each ward will be taken by a ward member or a ward councilor. The ward people can elect the ward councilor, and issues like electricity, drainage, spreading of diseases, awareness programs, etc., were brought to their notice.

If the issue is a generalized one for multiple watts, the word councilors May create a word committee, and all the councilors can have a debate on resolving the issue.

What is the Difference Between the Municipality and Municipal Corporation?

The municipal corporation is a legal body of urban administration for cities that have more population. But the municipality is a legal body created for the urban areas with a population of around 1 lakh people. The head of the municipality is either a president or a chairman. Apart from the size of the urban area, the differences between the municipality and municipal corporation are not much.


Hence the urban Administration in India plays a vital role in the development of cities and towns. Even though the cities were developed much when compared to rural areas, the municipal governments took them forward to develop more. The metropolitan cities were the best example of the effectiveness of urban Administration in India.

FAQs on Urban Administration in India

1. What are the Eight Types of Urban Local Bodies? List Them. 

The urban local bodies are often classified into eight categories which are mentioned below: 

  • Municipal corporation 

  • Municipality 

  • Notified area committee 

  • Town area committee 

  • Cantonment board 

  • Township 

  • Port trust 

  • Special purpose agency 

All these bodies form the crucial component of urban administration and cater to different niches. 

2. What are the Problem Areas of Municipal Bodies? 

The municipal bodies do not function smoothly and face some challenges at different times. Here are some of the difficulties faced by the municipal bodies. 

Qualifications: The primary issue in the municipal bodies is the qualification of the members. Not all members are qualified, which creates a disbalance in the functioning. 

The lack of finance: The biggest hurdle in working urban local bodies is finance. The finance requirement is huge, but both centre and state governments fail to meet the finance requirements, which puts them in a difficult situation. 

3. What is the Municipal Act?

The municipalities act came into existence in 1992 due to the 74th amendment act. It provides a new structure for the municipal system. It is a three-tier structure to look after the urban areas more effectively. This three-tier municipal system is similar to that of the Panchayati Raj system of rural areas. 

According to the municipalities' act and the 12th schedule of the constitution, the municipalities may have a set of 18 functionalities. While electing the people to the municipalities, the reservation categories provided high priority. This municipalities act is also known as the Nagar Palika Act. The main motto of this act is for the transparency and the growth of urban areas.

4. What are the Major Functions of a Municipal Corporation?

The major functions of a municipal corporation are as follows- 

  • Providing drinking water facility.

  • It concentrates on giving basic amenities.

  • It is involved in City development programs.

  • It focuses on growing trees, preventing the spreading of viral diseases, cleaning the drainage, etc.

  • It regulates the construction.

  • It maintains transparency in law and order.

  • Electricity supply, water supply, other necessities but also be considered.

  • It also gives importance to the birth and death registrations, burial facilities, and crematorium.

  • Several additional responsibilities like growing plants, maintaining cleanliness, road expansion, welfare activities, etc are implemented.