The Gist of Yojana: December 2014

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 programmes.

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 Central Government.

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 follows:

i. Strengthening urban local bodies through capacity building and better financial management.
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.

JNNURM was divided into two broad parts namely (i) the Sub- Mission on Urban Infrastructure and Governance and (UIG) (ii) the Sub-Mission on Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) covering initially 63 mission cities. The non-Mission cities and towns were covered under the scheme Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP).

Under JNNURM, it was made mandatory for each city to formulate its City Development Plan (COP), and bring out a long term vision for the city and its course of development. It also put several conditionality’s of urban reforms like repealment of Land Ceiling Act 1976, empowerment of ULBs, capacity building and improvement in municipal accounting. It also aimed to leverage private sector in the development and financing of projects through Public Private Partners.hip (PPP).

The Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017) proposed to consolidate the JNNURM and envisaged its wider role it. urban.reforms. The JNNURM during Twelfth Plan has following components.

1. Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG)
2. Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY)
3. Slum rehabilitation in cities not covered under RAY
4. Capacity buildini1

It noted that there were several barriers to the implementation of the programme. Notably among them is the failure to mainstream urban planning, incomplete reforms and slow progress in project implementation. The Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) was launched on 2 June 2011 with the vision of creating a slum free India as a pilot project for a period of two years. The Central Government finally approved the RAY on 3rd September 2013 for a period 2013-2022. This scheme specifically aimed to support state and city governments to upgrade slums and assign title to their residents and to plan to accommodate the envisaged growth as India’s rapid urbanization continues, so that more slums are not formed.India’s planning process has been centralized, top down and sector based. This is also true for urban development planning which focused mainly on urban housing, water supply, sanitation, slum improvement, urban infrastructure, mega city and small and medium towns etc. Although urban development is a state subject, there is little that states could think about an integrated urban development strategy and planning. State Planning Commissions/Boards have hardly come out with state urban development programmes and are mostly dependent on what Planning Commission of India suggested as a think tank. On the other hand, urban development is a matter of utmost importance as urban areas are constantly stressed for civic amenities like access to electricity, drinking water, sanitation and LPG etc. Road congestion, traffic, air and water pollution, municipal waste disposal and law and order are other issues of concerns for urban governance. Urban planning has to be done by the urban local bodies which comprise municipal corporations, municipalities and nagar panchayats, commonly known as ULBs supported by the state government. Urban Local Bodies need to be empowered with clear delegation of functions, financial resources and autonomy. There is also a need to enhance the administrative, managerial and technical capacity of the ULBs. It must be clearly recognized that urban planning cannot be divorced from urban governance.

As urban bodies lack power and resources, parastatal bodies like Urban Development Authority have virtually taken over the city promoting real estate and infrastructure. On the other hand, basic services like water, sanitation, education, health care and shelter etc. are neglected. As urban development is a state subject, the state governments must realise the role of the city and initiate urban reforms to empower local bodies both administratively and fiscally. We must envision cities as engines human development rather than capital accumulation by the few.

Planning for Smart Cities: Where to Start?

One of the ingredients in the new government’s development model is the idea of smart cities. In the budget presented on July 10,2014, the Union Finance Minister made a budgetary allocation of Rs 7060 crore for 100 smart cities. The minister spoke of the “vision of developing ‘one hundred Smart Cities’, as satellite towns of larger cities and modernizing the existing mid-sized cities.

Defining what a smart city means for people is undoubtedly debatable. However, the features of a smart central business district like the Gujarat International Fin- Tee City are easier to grasp, quantify and understand. The real challenge is to build an inclusive smart city for all its residents, irrespective of whether they are rich or poor. It is reasonable to state that in a country like India, the process of making a city smart should be people centric. The indubitable idea is to make cities work for the people. Hence, instead of offering an operational definition of what a smart city is, this article outlines a road map in this regard?

The notion of smart cities or habitations is a process rather than a goal and it is this feature that has ensured that there is no single accepted definition of what a smart city is. So a smart city would be e-governed, aim for continuous improvements in design and management, plan for climate oriented development and mass transit oriented development, ride on benefits of automation and develop applications for its residents.

The vision of India’s National e-Governance Plan is to “make all Government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man”. The effective roll out of this plan across the 4041 Statutory Towns, 3894 Census Towns, 475 Urban Agglomerations, 981 Out Growths, and 238,617 gram panchayats responsible for 6,40,86 villages will ensure that every administrative unit will be e-governed.

What is being suggested is that it should be about achieving convergence of various initiatives to ensure that every rural habitation, future town is becomes smarter. This approach can be thought of as bottom up planning for future urbanization, a preemptive strategy aimed at planning for growth rather than a reactive strategy in the face of urban sprawl. Today, most measures taken by the government are reactive than proactive. Our urban spaces have also been used for promoting reforms as well as for contesting such reform measures. Some seek privatization of municipal services including through Public-Private Partnerships with governments merely functioning as regulators or facilitators; others say that this would institutionalize social and economic disparities”. So the government has to articulate how it will ensure that basic services are available to all residents of these cities. Not only does the government need to address the lack of basic services for the current residents, the planning also needs to factor in future population growth.

As per the numbers from Census of India 2011, a total of 13.75 million households live in the slums, i.e. 17 per cent of India’s urban households lived in slums. This percentage would be higher if one was to generate estimates of urban households living in slum like conditions. In 2011, 63 per cent of the 4,041 statutory towns reported having slums. The idea of a smart town or a city with gated communities and overcrowded informal settlements seems incongruous. Twenty six per cent of households in urban India use dirty or unclean fuel like firewood/crop residue, cow dung cake/coal etc. This is not a smart energy choice since use of dirty fuel contributes to indoor air pollution. Any city or town aspiring to be smart needs to work on ensuring that the basic physical infrastructure is in place.

In terms of smart decision making, the database on different functional aspects of Indian cities is woefully inadequate to run any smart algorithms on dynamic pricing of services or routing of traffic. Such algorithms are more feasible to run in the context of cities in developed countries. But this is not to suggest that smart decision making and empowering of citizens is not feasible. Some state governments like Chhattisgarh have tried to improve the functioning of the Public Distribution system by developing the necessary management information systems. In Raipur, individuals are given the choice of the fair price shop of his or her liking, flexibility of buying in smaller quantities rather than in only on transaction etc. Portability of the ration card across the shops helped improve customer satisfaction. If every city in India were to follow the Raipur example then it will help to improve the functioning of the much maligned Public Distribution System. A logical extension would be to allow portability of cards for intra-state migrants and migrant workers. If one were to look around, there are many other initiatives that have been tried. The challenge is to make these sustainable and scalable to cover the entire population. In this process, even an un-smart and dysfunctional city can become smart, efficient and productive.

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