MUDA: A Tale of Dysfunction & Failure
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MUDA: A Tale of Dysfunction & Failure

June 29, 2024

The Mysuru Urban Development Authority (MUDA) is back in the news and as always, for the wrong reasons. This time, for corruption of three varieties — The 50:50 ratio site distribution scandal, the e-auction scandal and the Civic Amenities (CA) site scandal.

At the risk of being repetitive, I have to republish my recent observations of MUDA. MUDA, instead of providing sites to Mysureans, has been busy setting its sights on the way to loot. 

Mismanagement and inefficiency have plagued the urban planning authority of Mysuru for way too long and it needs a rehaul. For a start, we should have fewer MUDA members and then we could have minutes of the MUDA meetings made public.

The 50:50 ratio scandal is basically where a fake document is created saying ‘X’ person has lost his land during layout formation and has not been compensated and then in the MUDA meeting it is presented and person X is given an alternative site in an upscale area like Vijayanagar for example. 

The e-auction scandal is where officers put a lock in the software so that the person who has paid money is guaranteed the site allotment even when there are higher bidders as the software is programmed not to take higher bids.

The CA site scandal is where somebody has been allotted a CA site and has not utilised it for their intended purpose and MUDA sends a notice as per procedure. But when they come to the MUDA Office to explain themselves why they have not started the project, officers tell them that they are not interested actually in the project but they just want to                              collect money.

Since its inception, MUDA has failed miserably in executing ‘planned’ urban development. The institution is ineffective and desperately needs a comprehensive overhaul. By 2030, 600 million Indians, or 40 percent of the country’s population, will reside in urban areas, including Mysuru. 

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With improved air connectivity, increased fast trains and the Mysuru-Bengaluru Access-Controlled Highway, the influx of people into Mysuru is inevitable.  

There has already been a huge influx of people to ‘settle down’ in Mysuru, especially from Kerala, Chennai and even North India. Yet, MUDA is utterly unprepared to deliver planned growth for our city.

MUDA’s preamble states that they exist to promote a well-planned and well-designed urban development and make available, ‘environment-friendly and affordable housing using state-of-the-art technologies to all strata of society.’  

The irony is palpable. Over 50 years, MUDA has allotted just over 50,000 sites. Meanwhile, private developers have distributed 70,000 sites in half that time. 

Since 1994, MUDA has built only two layouts, while approving hundreds of private layouts, driving up real estate prices and making housing unaffordable for ordinary citizens, especially Mysureans.

MUDA must seriously provide affordable sites to locals who have been waiting for years else it could lead to social discord as locals will be forced to move to the outskirts of the city while out-of-state citizens will populate the main city. 

Soon, linguistic animosity will begin which will spill over to the other social spaces. This will lead to the locals Vs ‘outsiders’ issues and could turn an otherwise peaceful Mysuru into a chaotic and toxic city like Bengaluru has become.

MUDA has become an institution that serves politicians and bureaucrats more than the people of Mysuru. There is an unspoken ‘understanding’ among leaders of all parties regarding MUDA — exposing corruption or inefficiency is off-limits. So, we wonder how far this new ‘inquiry’ will go.

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Interestingly, the present Congress Government has started the inquiry when in fact                three years ago, when allegations of irregularities were made against the then MUDA Chairman by the then DC, the Opposition party, which was the Congress, remained silent!

This silence was deafening, given that five of the seven MLAs on the MUDA Board were from Congress party, along with four out of the seven MLCs of Congress party on the Board.

Even more interesting, the Chairman who was accused of corruption back then is now in the Congress Party. Wah!

If Mysuru is to avoid the fate of Bengaluru, our saviour cannot be the MUDA and definitely not its present form which is lacking in imagination, vision and aesthetics. MUDA’s proposals often border on the absurd.

Two years ago, it planned to build grotesque-looking ‘welcome’ arches at the city’s entrances. In 2012, it proposed a theme park in front of Lalitha Mahal Palace with a musical fountain, IMAX theatre, laser show and battery-operated train — a grandiose vision from an institution failing in its primary function of providing sites.

MUDA had been without a Chairman for a year but now K. Marigowda has been appointed Chairman, thankfully he stopped the 50:50 scam and hopefully, he will be able to do what other Chairmen weren’t, which is deliver sites to locals, Mysureans.

Currently, MUDA functions more like PUDA — Politicians’ Urban Development Authority. Will it stop? The outcome of the latest inquiry will tell.

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