Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai in Maharashtra are the three most liveable cities in India, and Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, the Nagland capital Kohima and Bihar capital Patna bring up the rear among 111 cities, measured on four broad parameters — governance, and social, physical and economic infrastructure.
According to the Ease of Living Index report released on Monday by Union housing and urban affairs minister, Hardeep Singh Puri,others in the 10 most liveable cities in the country are Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), the union territory of Chandigarh, Thane (Maharashtra), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) and Bhopal (MP).
“The ease of living assessment covers several metrics critical to track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in an urban environment. The analysis of data will also in turn encourage authorities concerned to know where to focus in the coming months,” Puri said
Some experts questioned the study, in part because large cities that are magnets for migrants of all economic strata, and which can also support significant population, fare poorly.
For instance, New Delhi, home to the country’s political elite and which includes areas under all three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council was ranked 65 in the index. Chennai was ranked 14. Kolkata and three other cities in West Bengal did not participate in the survey.
Seven of the top 10 most liveable cities are in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states. Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency, was ranked 33.
The liveability index, the first compiled by the government, ranked the cities with a total population of 134 million. Each city was given a score between 0 and 100. The highest score that a city got — in this case Pune — was 58.11.
Liveability rankings are common globally. Indian cities, however, fare poorly in global liveability indexes. For instance, none of the Indian cities made it to the 2017 Global Liveability report of the Economist Intelligence Unit. In the 2017 Mercers Quality of Living Survey, Mumbai got the highest ranking in India— 141 among 231 cities that were surveyed. Pune was ranked 151.
Urban experts said the findings of the liveability index must be viewed with caution.
“These kind of indices are dependent on quality of data, the methodology used and how and who verified the data. Unless the process to measure a city’s performance is robust, the result will not have credibility. Globally, liveability rankings are done by independent authorities,” said Saswat Bandopadhyay, an urban sector expert.
Bandopadhyay said that Indian urban database, urban data availability and the reliability is generally low. “The urban data hardships increase as you go down to smaller local bodies. Thus, while measuring ease of urban liveability, efforts should be made towards building urban data culture. Without a robust data culture, measuring ease of liveability will have limited meaning,” he said.
The four broad aspects on which the cities were ranked was further broken down into 78 indicators such as quality of governance, education, health services, safety and security, economy, transportation and mobility, pollution level, solid waste management, assured water supply, power supply, public open spaces, housing and inclusiveness.
Originally, however, the ministry had put 79 indicators while ranking cities. But one of the indicators — related to employment data — was taken out from the final survey. “We took it out as the cities did not have data related to unemployment rate,” said a senior ministry official who did not want to be named.
The liveability ranking survey was conducted over four months and feedback from over 60,000 citizens was collected. The Ease of Living Index, 2018, was implemented by a consortium consisting of market researcher Ipsos, policy research and development analytics firm, Athena Infonomics, and the Economist Intelligence Unit.