Three cities in Maharashtra — Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai — top the first Ease of Living Index brought out by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The national capital, New Delhi, is ranked 65 among 111 cities, while Chennai is in 14th place. Kolkata did not participate in the survey.A city’s ranking reflects its ability to provide data, as well as its actual performance on four different parameters — institutions or governance, social indicators, economic indicators and physical infrastructure. Senior Ministry officials told The Hindu that cities which were unable or unwilling to provide data received low scores.Data deficientFor example, New Delhi has a score of “zero” on indicators regarding inclusive housing and mixed land use and compactness, and a score of just 0.12 on economy and employment.This does not mean that the capital actually performs so poorly on these indicators, according to members of the consortium which carried out the survey and produced the Index for the government. Instead, it probably means that the NDMC and the three Municipal Corporations which govern the city simply failed to provide any data on those indicators. “If Delhi is showing zero in any category, it probably means that no data was given for any indicator under that category,” a consortium member told The Hindu, explaining that urban local bodies had been required to respond to 553 questions in 15 different categories under the four parameters.Releasing the Index, Housing and Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the ranking marks “a shift to a data-driven approach to urban planning and management.” He said future editions of the Index may also incorporate citizen and stakeholder feedback rather than relying on government data alone.A consortium member admitted that it was a challenge to collect some of this information from data-starved urban local bodies.Complex administrationParticular complications were seen in indicators such as health —where local governments did not have access to data from private hospitals. The consortium assisted cities in plugging the data gap with regard to certain indicators.“If cities are not able to provide data, how will they be able to plan and use their resources well? The first thing they need to learn is to get their data ecosystem aligned,” pointed out a consortium member.The other cities in the top ten include Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijayawada and Bhopal. The three cities at the bottom of the rankings are Rampur, Kohima and Patna.