Current General Studies Magazine: "India : Policies and Initiatives" October 2014

Current General Studies Magazine (October 2014)

General Studies - II (Development Based Article - India : Policies and Initiatives)

A dearth of adequate infrastructure and services has been recognized as one of the most important roadblocks in the sustainable development of Indian cities. India has underway a plan to tackle the challenges presented by fast urbanization and motorization by accelerating the supply of infrastructure and services. As part of this overall plan, the Government of India has introduced some vital policies and initiatives:

National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) was launched mid-2006 by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) was created to motivate the building of people centric urban transport solutions instead of focusing on improving the conditions for private motor vehicles. This a significant departure from traditional urban transport practices in Indian cities, as the needs of the majority of the population using public transport and non motorized modes are now at the forefront.

  • By recognizing that people occupy center-stage in our cities; and all plans should be for their common benefit and well being
  • By incorporating urban transportation as an important parameter at the urban planning stage rather than a consequential requirement;
  • Bringing about a more equitable allocation of road space with people rather than vehicles as its main focus;
  • Encouraging a greater use of public transport and non-motorized modes by offering Central financial assistance for the development of infrastructure and operation
  • Promoting the use of cleaner technologies
  • Enabling the establishment of quality focused multi-modal public transport systems that are well integrated, providing seamless travel across modes

The launching of the Government of India central assistance fund, the JNNURM provided a timely platform for providing significant financial support for investments in urban transport infrastructure. The NUTP policy provides a meaningful policy guiding central financial assistance towards improving urban mobility and consequently quality of life in cities across India. After its launch a remarkable decision was made to mandate that all urban transport projects receiving financial assistance from the JNNURM program are to conform with the rules and regulations stated under the NUPT mission.

The NUTP has identified a wide spectrum of public transport technologies ranging from high capacity and high cost technologies like the underground metro systems to high capacity and low cost bus rapid transit systems.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was released by India’s Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh in December 2005 and administered by the Indian Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Poverty Alleviation to support state and local investment in urban development. The overall objective of the Mission is to “create economically productive, efficient, equitable and responsive cities.” It is to encourage reform and fast track planned development for identified cities with a sustained focus on efficiency in urban infrastructure and service delivery mechanisms, community participation and accountability of all ULBs/ Para state agencies.

The JNNURM combines an offer of financial support for infrastructure projects under a cost sharing arrangement with the states and local governments, which is linked to a carefully structured governance model, that includes both central assistance and mandatory and optional reforms. The duration of the mission is for 7 years, commencing in 2005-06 with an identified requirement of INR 1,20,536 crore (USD 28 billion) of investment in 63 cities across the nation.

To qualify for JNNURM funding, a three-tiered application with the following information is mandatory; first, it requires each qualifying city to prepare a City Development Plan (CDP) laying out their vision for the city over the next 20-25 years; second, a Detailed Project Report (DPR) detailing their financial needs; and lastly, a timeline for the implementation of urban reforms for their respective city.


The linking of the NUTP and the JNNURM provided the necessary pull from the Center, subsequently motivating states and in particular medium sized cities or Tier II cities across India to attempt to design and implement the BRTS and other sustainable public transport solutions and non-motorized infrastructure projects. Before this, public transport and in particular, bus based public transport was not seen as an alternative to improve mobility. In keeping with the above two programs, cities transformed their projects, initially conceptualized as road infrastructure projects, into BRTS projects resulting in large scale capacity building on all aspects of planning, technology and operations.

National Action Plan for Climate Change was launched in mid-2008 provided additional support and solidified India’s commitment to sustainable transport solution. A sub clause called "A National Mission to Sustainable Habitat" will be launched to make habitat sustainable through a modal shift to public transport, by promoting energy efficiency as an integral component of urban planning and renewal as well as facilitate the growth of medium and small cities in ways that ensure efficient and convenient public transport.

Auto Fuel Policy (AFP) was issued in August 2002, the Auto Fuel Policy was developed by an expert committee constituing experts from various ministries including environment, transport, industry, agriculture, petroleum and natural gas, non-conventional energy and consumer affairs to form a comprehensive and integrated national policy on the above. The committee reviewed air quality data and trends, vehicle population growth and characteristics, supply and demand for auto fuels, alternative fuels, vehicle technologies, emission standards, public transport systems among others to formulate the policy. The final report proposed a road map to 2010, including specific standards for emissions and fuel quality, a recommendation for a single body entrusted with the task of enforcing these standards, and rationalization of fuel taxes.

The National Environment Policy (NEP) was released in early 2006 as a response to a national commitment to a clean environment, and as mandated in the Constitution of India - Articles 48A and 51 A (g). The NEP recognizes the state and each individual – citizen or institution of its responsibility towards maintaining and enhancing the quality of the environment. The salient theme of this policy is that while conservation of environmental resources is necessary to secure livelihood and well-being of all; the most secure basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on a particular resource obtain a better livelihood from the act of conservation, rather than from degradation of the resources. The policy also seeks to stimulate partnerships between local and international public and private different stakeholders to harness their respective resources and strengths towards the management of the environment.

US-Environmental Protection Agency & Ministry of Environment and Forest have signed a MOU in January 2002, to improve Air Quality Management (AQM) practices in India with additional support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and most recently the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). The US-EPA has been working closely with a variety of Indian national, state and local agencies, academic institutions, industry groups, and CSOs on this programme. Under this MOU, Pune was identified as a demonstration city to pilot the application of science-based urban air pollution control strategies that assist decision-makers in determining the most cost-effective means for reducing air pollution, especially particulate matter (PM). Other than that, MoEF has provided a list of 8 Indian industrial cities to USEPA where they plan to initiate Air Quality Management projects. The cities are Ahmedabad, Gurgaon, Vishakapatnam, Nasik, Raipur, Durgapur, Agra and Chandarpur.

(Source- EMBARQ India)

Question :

1Q. A dearth of adequate infrastructure and services has been recognized as one of the most important roadblocks in the sustainable development of Indian cities. Comment. (200 words)

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