Current Public Administration Magazine (February - 2015) - Urban Development in India

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Urban Development

Urban Development in India


Presently, 31 per cent of India’s population is living in urban areas, which rose by 3.35 per cent between 2001 and 2011 and 2.10 per cent between 1991 and 2001. By next 20 years, this population is projected to rise by over 200 million bringing up challenges related to land-use and expanding infrastructure development to new cities and metropolises. With India’s burgeoning population, the issue of increasing urban poor and providing basic amenities like sanitation, water supply, affordable housing and public transport remains a huge challenge in urban areas.

Focus Areas

1. Improvement in Urban Amenities including Water Supply, Sanitation, Storm Drainage, Roads, Urban Transport, etc.

As urban sector is largely a state subject, the role of Government of India (GoI) is to provide assistance to the State Government in taking up the projects for improving the delivery of urban amenities. In 2005, GoI launched the Jawaharlal Nehru national Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) with overall outlay of Rs. 66,085 cr. In last 7 years, 2900 projects relating to water supply, sanitation, storm drainage, slum rehabilitation were taken up. The overall investment under JNNURM in last 7 years was about 1.2 lakh cr in these projects. However, despite these initiatives, the deficit in urban services remains high. Under the 12th plan, provision has been made for launching JNNURM-II by incorporating the learnings from JNNURM-I. A budgetary provision of Rs. 1.01 lakh cr has been made to focus on poor urban amenities, developing housing of Economically Weaker Section and universalisation of access to water supply and sanitation.

2. Improvement in urban transport

The National Urban Transport Policy 2006 calls for increasing the share of public transport in our cities from 22 per cent to 60 per cent. Under the 11th plan, metro rail network was significantly expanded. Delhi Metro phase-II and part of Bangalore metro projects were completed and currently, Delhi metro phase-III, extension of Delhi metro in NCR region, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai and Hyderabad are under implementation. In another major development, 15,260, low floor, and semi-low floor buses enabled with intelligent transport system were sanctioned to 65 Mission cities with admissible central assistance of Rs 2,089 crore. As a result of the scheme, 34 cities across India have organized city bus services for the first time Buses were provided.

Under the 12th plan, provision has been kept for expansion of public transport projects. This includes metro rail projects, Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), and investment in urban roads, traffic infrastructure etc., which are admissible under JNNURM. In the NCR region, there is an ambitious plan to construct Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS) to connect the core of the city to growth centres located in the periphery. In order to reduce capital cost by indigenization and by encouraging innovation, the Plan has proposed setting up an apex institution to promote rail based mass urban transport in the country. Another important recommendation is to encourage Non-Motorised Transport (NMT) including promotion of innovation in designing of cycle rickshaw.

3. Improvement in Governance structure at city Government level to make city Government responsive to the need of citizenry

JNNURM had mandated series of urban reforms with an aim to strengthen the city level governments, improve their financial capabilities, encourage provision of services to urban poor and simplify the procedure of determining land use in a city. However, under JNNURM, urban planning could not be mainstreamed which resulted in taking up disjointed projects and also weakened the citizenry-Government interface. To address this, the 12th Plan has recommended that under JNNURM-II, assistance of GoI would be provided on the basis of an urban plan, drawn through the participatory process. For this to happen, JNNURM mandates the States to make appropriate provision for ensuring community participation and reliance on democratically elected bodies for urban sector. Hence, all such reforms of JNNURM-I which were meant for strengthening municipal Governments and which have remained incomplete have been emphasized in the JNNURM-II. This includes transfer of 18 functions to Municipal Government, making them main agencies for urban planning, accounting related reforms, and reforms for strengthening financial position of Urban Local bodies like improvement in levying of property tax, rationalisation of user charges and innovative method of finding finances for urban projects.

4. Addressing Urban Poverty

Based on NSSO Report No. 508 (2004-05) it is estimated that the number of urban poor had increased by 34.4 percent from 1973 to 2004. With the rural urban migration set to rise, unless the urban poor are skilled to be gainfully employed either through self-employment or through wage employment, the rural poverty would get converted to urban poverty. The plan has recommended launching of National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) for skilling of the urban poor to improve their prospect for a) wage employment and b) providing assistance for self-employment. Besides, it recommends two more sub-components, the first being provision of assistance to States for creation of shelter for homeless, migrants etc and the second being a scheme to assist the street vendors. The Plan also encourages the State Governments to adopt a no-eviction policy and bring about suitable legislative inclusion of the urban poor. Another strategy of reduction of urban poverty is to ensure that poor have access to basic services provided under JNNURM, especially housing as the plan lays emphasis on rehabilitation of slums.

5. Slum rehabilitation by adopting in-situ slum rehabilitation strategy

Under JNNURM, slum rehabilitation was taken up under Basic Service for Urban Poor (BSUP) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development programme (IHSDP). Under these schemes, 1.6 million dwelling units were sanctioned. In June 2011, GoI launched Rajiv Awas Yojana under the overall umbrella scheme of JNNURM as a scheme for slum rehabilitation. Under this scheme which would continue under the 12th Plan, property rights are to be given to the slum dwellers and in-situ rehabilitation of slums are to be taken up so that livelihood opportunity of poor are not disrupted. A scheme for providing institutional credit to urban poor for housing purpose is also under consideration of the Government.

6. Encouragement of PPP to attract private investment in urban sector

In the 11th plan, share of private investment in urban infrastructure was about 37% of the total investment, much above the target of 30%. The 12th plan has projected that roughly 48% of the investment in infrastructure would come from private sector. However, in urban sector, number of PPP projects are very low. Out of 2900 urban projects under JNNURM, only about 50 projects had some elements of PPP and there too, the capital investment by private sector was just about Rs. 1,000 cr.

The 12th Plan projects that in the urban sector roughly 12-23% of the investment need can be met by taking project on PPP which has the added advantage of bringing in efficiency gains. With considerable progress in PPP projects in road sector, it is important to implement the learning of standardisation of bidding documents and processes to facilitate PPP projects. The 12th plan has recommended standardisation of such documents in the field of water supply, affordable housing, sanitation, urban transport, social sectors like health care and education etc. Another important emphasis has been on involvement of public in PPP projects and enunciation of a clear cut rehabilitation policy for those who are displaced when large infrastructure projects.

7. Sustainability of cities

India is on an inflexion point where the urban population is set to increase at an accelerated plan. However, already the infrastructure in a cities are under stress and adding more population may also raise question about environmental sustainability of cities unless environment-friendly policies are adopted. For this JNNURM proposes to provide assistance to the States for taking up urban renewal based on city Development Plans which are to be situate within appropriate regional plan. A city Mobility Plan for integration of land use and urban transport planning along with introduction of common mobility card for seamless urban transport is being drawn up. Encouragement of public transport like BRT and metro rail projects and non-Motorised transport are some of the thrust areas to decongest the city and improve its sustainability.

The 12th Plan also recommends launching of the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat which envisages encouragement to innovations and their scaling up in areas of recycling of urban waste and material and designing energy efficient building etc. and other such measures which reduces the energy footprint of the city.

Source- Planning Commission of India

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