Pune is the best governed city in India, Bengaluru-based advocacy group Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy has said in a report. The civic bodies of Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram round off the top three in the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems, which evaluated the quality of governance in 23 cities based on 89 questions. Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Patna and Chennai comprise the bottom five.

Activists in Pune, however, questioned the ranking, the Hindustan Times reported. Nagrik Chetna Manch president, Major General SCN Jatar (retired) said the survey was not based on reality. “Pune rivers have become sewage canals and we have encroachments on green zones,” he said. “The city is drenched in garbage. Has the governance elevated the life of the common man?”

Lawyer Sarang Yadwadkar pointed out that the survey does not measure the quality of infrastructure and services, but instead focuses on the preparedness of cities to deliver high quality infrastructure and services in the long run.

The survey, however, said that most of the cities are “grossly underprepared” to deliver such a high quality of life even in the future. “Overall, India’s cities have continued to score low over the last three editions of ASICS, with average score improving marginally from 3.4 to 3.9,” the advocacy group observed. “This indicates slow progress on fixing City-Systems. This is particularly worrisome, given the pace at which India is urbanising and the already poor state of public service delivery in our cities.”

Policy-makers and urban planners need to address five systemic problems to deliver a better quality of life to citizens in a sustainable manner, Janaagraha said. Most cities lack a modern planning framework for public utilities such as roads, footpaths, bus stops and other utilities, the report pointed out. The city authorities’ weak finances and poor human resource management also hamper their development, the advocacy group said. It also spoke of the political paralysis in most civic bodies that render mayors powerless, and the complete absence of platforms where citizens can have their say in the city’s governance.