II. ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS OF UNSUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
E. District/local level institutions and bodiesThe concept of environmental management for sustainable development was first translated into real applications in Pakistan in NCS projects and SPCS regional-level polices. It should be noted, however, that the concept is very often associated with policies at the local level. The term has also been used to describe localized realization in local-level planning, ecological architecture and energy policies. Although national legislation in the field of environment has since been adopted, it does not mean that it has been fully implemented. At the local level (local government bodies and municipalities), national-level legislation can provide a basic framework for better implementation and the achievement of good results. Thus there has been a shift in studies and research on how to make the local level institutions more viable and effective in achieving the goal of sustainable development.
In view of the complexity of the problems being experienced by local institutions, as well as the multiplicity of participants, a new management process is needed for those institutions as they can no longer be managed through the traditional mechanism of public management. New concepts have to be developed and new methods created for a more adequate management, based on the recently-introduced field of "governance" (Banniger, 1995).
The province has a huge rural population (85 per cent of the provincial total) living inhabitants are very backward, and are faced with numerous problems such as a high population growth rate, a low level of agriculture productivity, a defective marketing system, illiteracy (particularly among women), land availability limitations, and a lack of basic needs and infrastructure. The gradual disintegration of traditional social institutions and the discontinuation of local bodies are two other major constraints on collective participation and self-help development projects at the local level.
On the Indian subcontinent the system of local institutions is very old. Previously known as panchayats, they comprised five elders who were responsible for solving local problems and providing prompt and inexpensive justice. They were also empowered to levy different types of taxes within their jurisdictions (Khalil and others, 1986). Following independence, the system of local institutions declined.
In Pakistan, development planning related to the environment, local government and rural development is coordinated by the Ministry of Environment, and by housing, physical planning, environment and local government at the provincial level. At the local level the Municipal Corporation/Town Committees in urban civil areas and the Cantonment Board in military areas are the basic units of urban administration and management. Divisional headquarters development authorities like PDA, Mardan Development Authority, Malakand Development Authority-Saidusharif, Abbottabad Development Authority, Kohat Development Authority and D. I. K. Development Authority have also been created to undertake development work in a comprehensive and systematic manner. Local units of a number of nation-building provincial line departments are directly responsible to their headquarters at the district/divisional and provincial levels.
Since independence, the systems of local governments and bodies have continued to exist in one form or another. District Boards, Municipal Committees and Notified Areas remained in existence until 1959 when the Basic Democracies Scheme was introduced, leading to the creation of local councils at different levels. The national government then launched various programmes from time to time which were aimed at improving the living conditions of the rural population. Those programmes included Village-AID (1953-1959), Basic Democracies (1959-1971), People's Work Programme (1972-1979) and the Integrated Rural Development Programme (1972-1979) (box 1).. At the same time, the respective departments were expanded by adding special schemes such as rural health, a cooperative farm service, adult education, land reforms, a grow-more-food campaign and an accelerated agricultural production programme ("green revolution"). In addition, new organizations (e.g., the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan, the Agricultural Development Corporation, Salinity Control and Reclamation Project (SCARP) etc. were created in order to meet administrative and institutional inadequacies. However, a number of shortcomings and other limitations obstructed the operations of those new organizations. Moreover, a lack of adequate follow-up activities such as monitoring, evaluation and research prevented the modification of the programmes to meet changing needs and demands. As a result, the methods and processes of rural development could neither be standardized nor institutionalized properly, even through the use of the United Nations integrated approach.
At present, the local councils are confined to the preparation of ADP rather than long- and medium-term Perspective Plans or Five-Year Plans. The institutional bottlenecks include a lack of sufficient institutional capacity and trained expertise in planning and environmental management. However, the councils will ultimately offer good potential for emerging as an institution if allowed to undertake long-term planning.
The creation and promulgation of local area planning at the district level through NWFP Local Government Ordinance, 1979, is a fully representative, democratic, autonomous and self-reliant system. Under the Ordinance, the local councils are vested with wide powers and functions. That was a step towards meeting a long-standing need for planning institutions at the sub-regional/ local level. It has permitted the involvement of various community interest groups in the formulation of development planning. But despite those positive aspects, the system has failed to achieve the desired results mainly because of a lack of continuity and political will, or the denial of political support.
During the military government period, local body elections were held regularly. Following the first election (September 1979), the second was held in September 1983 and the third in November, 1987. The fourth election is due but has yet to be held by the current democratically elected civil government, which is a clear indication that the local bodies are not fully recognized by the government.
The system provide two categories of local council, i.e. rural and urban. The rural councils comprise Union and District Councils. The Union Council composition is based on the size of the population and the area covered, ranging from 10 to 20 villages. Membership varies from 5 to 15 for a population of between 10,000 and 25,000. The District Councils have a fixed membership of 30 with two seats reserved for women in each council. In NWFP during 1995/96, there were 22 District Councils and 769 Union Councils.
In NWFP there are three types of Urban Councils: the Municipal Corporation in Peshawar (see box 2); 30 Municipal Committees; and 13 Town Committees. The membership of the Municipal Committees and Town Committees varies from 7 to 15 with a special reserved seat for women in each committee. The Municipal Corporation has 43 seats including two special seats for women and one for minorities. Again, the criterion for defining the Urban Councils is population size. In the case of the Municipal Corporation the population size is 500,000 and above, while for the Municipal Committees it is 20,000 and above, and for Town Committees it is over 5,000 but less then 20,000.
Local Government Ordinance, 1979, provides local councils with a wide range of powers and functions. They have their own budget and can formulate ADPs. They have the power to levy the local taxes, fees and octroi, execute contracts, hold auctions of bus and taxi stands, organize cattle fairs etc.
The chairmen of the District Councils and the mayor of Peshawar Municipal Corporation are authorized to approve expenditures up to PRs 200,000 on a single item (note: the figure changes from time to time). The chairmen of the Municipal Committees and Town Committees have similar powers for expenditures up to PRs 50,000, the chairman of the Union Council can approve expenditures up to PRs 0,000.
The main functions of the Urban Councils are related to maintaining civic amenities, health, sanitation, drinking water supply, drainage, education, sports, culture, town planning and social welfare activities of various types.
District Council functions include: the construction and maintenance of public roads, rest houses, streets, public ways, culverts, bridges, public buildings and drinking water supplies; tree plantation; the maintenance of public places (e.g., parks) and establishments, rural health centres and primary schools and markets; organizing fairs; and celebrating national events.
Union Council functions include: the maintenance of public highways, streets, public places such as gardens and playgrounds, and street lighting; planting and preservation of trees; the management of shamilat (common land); the prevention of encroachment on public ways and places; sanitation and the promotion of cleanliness measures; the regulation of offences and the prevention of dangerous and prohibited trades; regulation of the slaughter of animals; the construction and maintenance of wells, the installation of water pumps, water pounds and tanks, and the supply of drinking water; the adoption of relief measures during natural disasters; and the promotion of social welfare.
It has been adequately proved that local government is the most effective delivery system for bringing about a change in the socio-economic conditions of the rural areas. However, because of the lack of continuity, the process of amelioration has been interrupted from time to time; yet whenever the institutions concerned have been assigned a responsibility that is backed by the authority necessary to fulfilling the task assigned to them, they have always been up to the mark (Naqvi and Hamid, 1986). The local councils have achieved commendable results in raising self-generated incomes and development expenditure. An increase of 395.4 per cent in the generation of funds by District Councils between 1986/87 and 1995/96 is an encouraging sign of self-reliance. In certain individual cases the figures are much higher then the overall increase. Some District Councils, such as those in Chitral and Manshera, prepared district development plans. The example of the Manshera district development plan is discussed in box 3. However, the plans have not been updated because of a lack of continuity in the system and federal/provincial government involvement in the affairs of the local bodies.