The Gist of Yojana: December 2014
Urban Policies and Programmes in India: Retrospect and Prospect
The Importance of cities and urban centres has been growing
in India’s economic development during the post liberalization phase. For
example, the contribution of urban areas to India’s GDP has increased from 29
per cent in 1950-51 to 47 per cent in 1980-81, to 62 to 63 per cent by 2007, and
is expected to increase to 75 per cent by 2021 (Planning Commission 2008: 394).
It is also being emphasized that 9 to 10 per cent of growth in GDP depends
fundamentally on making Indian cities more livable and inclusive (Planning
Commission, Govt. of India 2008: 394).
One of the important features of urbanization influencing
politics and policies is that it undermines old forms of political mobilization
based on caste and religious identities and favors local issues to be resolved
through right based approach to development.
One of the startling facts of India’s urban history is that
most of the cities and towns have grown on their own. Policy and programmes to
some extent affected the big urban centres, but the small cities and towns and
non-metropolitan areas have largely been remained unaffected by urban policy and
Urban Programmes and Planning in Five Year Plans
During the first two Five Year Plan periods, various
institutions and organizations were created and set up. For example, the
Government set up the Town and Country Planning Organization, the National
Building Organisation and Delhi Development Authority during this period.
The Third Five Year Plan (1961-66) was a turning point in
India’s history of urban development and planning. It recognized the importance
of cities and towns in balanced regional development and advised that urban
planning adopt a regional approach. It emphasized the need for urban land
regulation, checking of urban land prices and also preparation of master plan
for the big cities.
The Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74) continued to emphasize the regional and
urban development initiatives in the Third Plan, and development plans for 72
urban centres were undertaken.
The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act 1976 was passed
during Fifth Five Year Plan period. It also advised the state governments to
create metropolitan planning regions to take care of the growing areas outside
administrative city limits. In a very significant development during this plan
period, the Government of Maharashtra passed the Mumbai Metropolitan Development
Act in 1974 and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) was
established in accordance on 26th January, 1975.
The Sixth Five Year Plan (1978-83) stressed the need to
develop small and medium size towns (less than 1 lakh). A scheme of Integrated
Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) was launched in 1979 by the
There were some important institutional developments during
Seventh Plan period which shaped the urban development policy and planning in
India. The National Commission on Urbanisation submitted its report in August
1988 and a bill known as 65th Constitution Amendment was introduced in Lok Sabha
in 1989 incorporating the suggestions of the Commission. The bill was the first
attempt to grant constitutional status to urban local bodies with an aim to
create a- three tier federal structure.
During Eighth Plan, the Mega City Scheme was introduced in
1993-94 covering five megacities of Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore and
Hyderabad. Also, the IDSMT scheme was revamped to dovetail its activities of
infrastructure development programmes for boosting employment generation for
diverting migration from the big cities to the small and medium towns.
The Ninth Plan (1997-2002) sought that state urbanisation
strategy should be prepared for establishing synergy among various urban
development programmes. Although, most of the programmes undertaken in the
Eighth Plan continued in Ninth Plan, the emphasis was placed more on
decentralization and financial autonomy of the urban local bodies with an aim to
promote competitiveness and efficiency’ through market based interventions.
The Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-2007) recognized the fact that urbanization
played a key role in accelerating economic growth in the 1980s and 1990s as a
result of economic liberalisation. It also noted that programmes such as the
Mega City project for five selected cities, the Integrated Development of Small
and Medium Towns (IDSMT), and the Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP)
have shown limited success. It also noted that the coverage and the amount of
central assistance in the past have been uneven and inadequate, both because of
procedural issues as well as limited budgetary allocations. The existing schemes
for assistance for infrastructure such as the IDSMT and the Mega City Project
leave a significant number of cities between them without any central support.
A programme called Valmiki-Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY) was
also initiated in 2001-2002 for provision of shelter and upgrading the existing
shelter of the people below poverty line. A subsidy in the range of Rs. 20 to 30
thousand was provided per unit depending upon the size of the city.
The Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12) introduced some innovative changes in
the urban policy and programmes. The key urban development strategies were as
i. Strengthening urban local bodies through capacity building and better
ii. Increasing the efficiency and productivity of cities by deregulation and
development of land.
iii. Dismantling public sector monopoly over urban infrastructure and creating
conducive atmosphere for the private sector to invest.
iv. Establishing aut0nom0us regulatory framework to oversee the functioning of
the public and private sector.
v. Reducing incidence of poverty.
vi. Using technology and innovation in a big way.
In order to revitalize the urban development strategies, the
Central Government launched a major initiative named as Jawaharlal Nehru
National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), in December 2005, to give a focused
attention to integrated development of urban infrastructure and services
initially in select 63 mission cities.