Jamshedpur’s Story Behind No Municipal Corporation

We would take on the state administration and the judiciary by the horns to prevent Jamshedpur from being overrun by elected representatives

Late Russi Mody, chairman and managing director of Tisco

Jamshedpur, popularly known as Pittsburgh of India, belongs to one of the few cities where no municipal corporations exist. The Supreme Court of India in July 2018 issued a notice to the Jharkhand government seeking its response on why the municipal body should be constituted for Jamshedpur which is being managed and controlled by Tata Group for the last 50 years.

Battle for The Soul of Jamshedpur

At least three attempts have been made to create a civic body in Jamshedpur, the first dating back to 1967. According to Sharma’s latest petition in the apex court, faced with resistance from Tisco, the state gave up the idea in 1973. After he came into the picture in 1988 and won a favourable verdict, a notification was issued by the Bihar government in 1990 for the creation of a civic body for Jamshedpur.
The third attempt was made in December 2005, when the state government of Jharkhand issued another notification expressing its intention to turn Jamshedpur into a municipality.

Why Municipal Corporation Debate?

According to the 73rd and 74th amendment of the constitution was to ensure devolution of power to the local elected body accountable directly to people. The establishment of a municipality ensures that the basic decisions affecting people’s lives at the local level are taken by an elected council that is directly accountable to the people. Because of the non-establishment of the municipality in Jamshedpur, basic services like primary education, health, sanitation, water supply, solid waste management and other public necessities like roads, parks etc. are the responsibility of an unelected, unaccountable bureaucratic industrial establishment which is affecting the right of people.

Better Without Municipal

Tata companies have controlled Jamshedpur affairs for the last 50 years, and it was a model township with all the facilities. “These facilities are better than those provided by the best of municipalities in the country.”
In 2004, Jusco was spun off into a separate enterprise from Tata Steel’s town services division, which had the mandate under a lease agreement with the state to build and maintain civic infrastructure in Jamshedpur.

  • Jamshedpur is one of the first to use Tata Communications’ LoRa network for smart city services such as smart metering and lighting. Besides doing Proofs of Concept (PoCs) for smart street lighting—in which lights can automatically adjust their brightness based on factors such as the available natural light or density of traffic
  • JUSCO is installing sensors under the manholes in the city so that the water level can be monitored and preventive action is taken before the water actually gushes out of the sewers onto city streets.
  • Jamshedpur is probably the only city in the country where one million people drink water directly from the tap and do not need any kind of purification system on their premises.
  • JUSCO is monitoring a number of parameters for the hundreds of electricity transformers it has deployed across the city. “The sensors installed on our big transformers constantly monitor what is happening inside them and they send that data to the C&C centre, which helps them to be far more proactive in their approach to find solutions to problems or even pre-empt them.
What IF !! No Tata?

Jamshedpur’s suburbs, which are not under Jusco are at their worst. A few years ago the Jharkhand government had managed to create a civic body in Adityapur, hold elections and put it under the helm of elected representatives. The two other suburbs Jugsalai and Mango are still run by bureaucrats. All of these suburbs have the same issues which include health, sanitation, water supply, solid waste management and other public necessities like roads, parks etc. None of the facilities is up to mark.
In these suburbs, standards in these suburbs are so pitiful that when Jusco has been allowed to enter Adityapur as the second power utility, people switched from the state-owned distributor to Jusco power utility in no time.

Dream of JN Tata

Many people always wonder why keeping Jamshedpur clean was the priority of Tata’s, the reason is our founder JN Tata when he visited Manchester what struck him the most were its industrial slums, which were as dark and sulphurous ‘the medieval vision of hell’. He was appalled at the contrast between poverty and prosperity in the world’s most efficacious country. JN Tata wanted his enterprises to be different from what he had witnessed in Manchester.

The steel factory is only a small part of his greater idea, he believes in the idea that “In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in business but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.” he assured shorter working hours, well- ventilated hospitals, provident fund and gratuity long before they became a part of modern India. In the letter, he wrote to Dorab five years before even a site for the enterprise had been decided he spelt out his concept of a modern township. He said & I Quote…

Be sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees, every other of a quick-growing variety,” the letter stated. “Be sure that there is plenty of space for lawns and gardens. Reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks. Earmark areas for Hindu temples, Mohammedan mosques and Christian churches.”

JN Tata in the Letter
Why Constantly Wasting Money

These developments always received harsh criticism, Even during their grim period, the Company always invest in building the town of Jamshedpur, and in workers welfare.
After World War 1, Tata Steel was not doing well, at that period, some shareholders criticised Tata Steel harshly, for building sanitation and housing during a difficult time, rather than focusing on profits alone.
The matter came to a head in Oct. 1923, at a tense AGM of the Company.
R.D. Tata (Director, also father of J.R.D. Tata) rose to speak, facing angry shareholders. He told them “We are constantly accused by people of wasting money in the town of Jamshedpur.
We are asked why it should be necessary to spend so much on housing, sanitation, roads, hospitals and welfare…Gentlemen, people who ask these questions are sadly lacking in imagination.

We are not putting up a row of workmen’s huts in Jamshedpur – we are building a city.

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