Types of Urban Governments

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

Municipal Corporation—

A Municipal Corporation in India, formed under the Corporations Act of 1835 of Panchayati Raj system, is responsible for providing essential services in every small town as well as village of a district/city.

It caters to their daily problems and provides the convenient services to the people, holding a central importance in the state.

The largest corporations are in the four metropolitan cities of India.

Mumbai has the largest Municipal Corporation, which is followed by Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

These metropolitan cities not only have a large population, but are also the administrative as well as commercial centres of the country.

In India a Municipal Corporation is called by different names which varies from state to state (oweing to the official language of the state or due to other regional language variations) all of which are translated to “Municipal Corporation” in English, these names including—

Nagar Nigam (in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana), Mahanagar Palika(in Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka), Pouro Nigom(in West Bengal), etc.

They are established in the states by the acts of the concerned state legislatures, and in the union territories by the acts of the Parliament of India.

There may be one common act for all the municipal corporations in a state or a separate act for each municipal corporation.

A municipal corporation has three authorities, namely, the council, the standing committees and the commissioner.

The Council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the corporation.

It consists of the Councilors directly elected by the people, as well as a few nominated persons having knowledge or experience of municipal administration. In brief, the composition of the Council including the reservation of seats for SCs, STs and women is governed by the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.

The Council is headed by a Mayor. He is assisted by a Deputy Mayor. He is elected in a majority of the states for a one-year renewable term. He is basically an ornamental figure and a formal head of the corporation. His main function is to preside over the meetings of the Council.

The standing committees are created to facilitate the working of the council, which is too large in size. They deal with public works, education, health, taxation, finance and so on. They take decisions in their fields.

The municipal commissioner is responsible for the implementation of the decisions taken by the council and its standing committees. Thus, he is the chief executive authority of the corporation. He is appointed by the state government and is generally a member of the IAS.

Roles and Functions

A Municipal Corporation works in coordination with the State Government for the effective execution of the various plans and programs.

All municipal acts in India divide functions, powers and responsibilities into the following two categories:

[1] Obligatory

[2] Discretionary

Some obligatory functions—

[a] Supply of pure and wholesome water.

[b] Construction and maintenance of public streets.

[c] Lighting and watering of public streets.

[d] Cleaning of public streets, places and sewers.

[e] Regulation of offensive, dangerous or obnoxious trades and callings or practices.

[f] Maintenance or support of public hospitals; establishment and maintenance of primary schools.

[g] Registration of births and deaths; removing obstructions and projections in public streets, bridges and other places.

[h] Naming streets and numbering houses.

Some discretionary functions—

[a] Construction and maintenance of public parks, gardens, libraries, museums, rest houses, leper homes, orphanages and rescue homes for women.

[b] Planting and maintenance of roadside and other trees.

[c] Housing for low income groups.

[d] Conducting surveys.

[e] Organising public receptions, public exhibitions, public entertainment; provision of transport facilities with the municipality.

[f] Promotion of welfare of municipal employees.



In India, Municipal Councils or Town Municipalities or Nagar Palika or Municipality is an urban local body that administers a city of population 100,000 or more.

Under the Panchayati Raj system, it interacts directly with the state government, though it is administratively part of the district it is located in.

Generally, smaller district cities and bigger towns have a Nagar Palika.

Nagar Palikas are also a form of local self-government entrusted with some duties and responsibilities, as enshrined in the Constitutional (74th Amendment) Act, 1992.

Members of the Nagar Palika are elected representatives for a period of five years.

The town is further divided into Wards according to its population and representatives are elected from each ward.

One or more representatives are elected to represent each ward.

Seats are reserved for SC/ST, women and backward classes.

The members elect a President among themselves to preside over and conduct meetings of the Municipality.

Like a municipal corporation, a municipality also has three authorities, namely, the council, the standing committees and the chief executive officer.

The council is the deliberative and legislative wing of the municipality. It consists of the councilors directly elected by the people.

The council is headed by a president/chairman. He is assisted by a vice-president/vice-chairman. He presides over the meetings of the council.

The chief executive officer/chief municipal officer is responsible for day-to-day general administration of the municipality. He is appointed by the state government.


Notified Area Committee–

A notified area committee is created for the administration of two types of areas -a fast developing town due to industrialisation, and a town which does not yet fulfill all the conditions necessary for the constitution of a municipality, but which otherwise is considered important by the state government.

The state government constitutes a committee called the Notified Area Committee (NAC) to ad­minister this area.

Since it is established by a notification in the government gazette, it is called as notified area committee.

All the members of a notified area committee including the chairman are nominated by the state government.

Thus, it is neither an elected body nor a statutory body.


Town Area Committee–

A town area committee is set up for the administration of a small town.

The TAC is constituted and governed by an Act of the state legislature and its composition and functions are specified in it. Its membership differs from state to state.

The committee may be partly elected, partly nominated or wholly elected or wholly nominated.

The District Collector, in some states, has been given control and powers of surveillance over a TAC.

It is entrusted with a limited number of civic functions like drainage, roads, street lighting, and conservancy.


Cantonment Board–

Cantonment boards were first set up under the Cantonments Act in 1924.

It is set up under the provisions of the Cantonments Act of 2006—a legislation enacted by the Central government.

While all other institutions of urban governance are administered by the state government, these are the only bodies which are centrally administered by the Defence Ministry.

There are 62 Cantonments in the country which have been notified under the Cantonments Act, 1924 (succeeded by the Cantonments Act, 2006).

The overall municipal administration of the notified Cantonments is the function of the Cantonment Boards which are democratic bodies.

The Station Commander of the Cantonment is the ex-officio President of the Board and an officer of the IDES or Defence Estates Organisation is the Chief Executive Officer who is also the Member-Secretary of the Board.

The Board has equal representation of the elected and nominated/ex-officio members to balance the official representation with the democratic composition.

Cantonments are different from the Military Stations in that the Military Stations are purely meant for the use and accommodation of the armed forces and these are established under an executive order whereas the Cantonments are areas which comprise of both military and civil population.

There are four categories of Cantonments which depend on the size of population residing inside a Cantonment.

The Cantonments, despite having financial and land constraints especially towards their permissible use for residential and commercial activities, today represent the green areas which strive to maintain ecological balance while at the same time providing better civic facilities to the residents.

DGDE is an Inter Services Organisation of the Ministry of Defence which directly controls the Cantonment Administration.



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.

A few examples are— the steel plants at Rourkela, Bhilai and Jamshedpur, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited near Bhopal and Hindustan Aero­nautics near Bangalore.

The enterprise appoints a town administrator to look after the administration of the township.

The township form of urban government has no elected members.


Port Trust–

The port trusts are established in the port areas like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai etc. to manage and protect the ports and to provide civic amenities.

A port trust is created by an Act of Parliament. It consists of both elected and nominated members.

Its civic functions are more or less similar to those of a municipality.


Special Purpose Agency–

They are created as statutory bodies by an act of state legislature or as departments by an executive resolution.
They work as autonomous bodies dealing with their allotted functions independently of the local urban governments.

They are not subordinate agencies of the local municipal bodies.

Some such bodies are—

[a] Town improvement trusts.

[b] Urban development authorities.

[c] Water supply and sewerage boards.

[d] Housing boards.

[e] Pollution control boards.

[f] Electricity supply boards.

[g] City transport boards.