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Urban Infrastructure in India – Schemes and Challenges

In India urban areas are considered as “engines of inclusive economic growth”. According to 2011 census 31% of population lived in urban areas, this is estimated to grow to 60% by 2030.  Indian cities have been infamously given the title of ‘overgrown villages’ because of lack of proper infrastructure and accessibility to basic services. In India 65.5 million people live in urban slums.

In 1687, Madras became first Indian city to have a municipal corporation. In 1726 two new Municipal Corporation were established in Calcutta and Bombay. In 1882, Lord Ripon the Viceroy of India and father of local self-government in India passed a resolution according to which, panchayat were established at village level, district boards and municipalities were established at city level. Urbanization since independence has been focused through respective five year plans.

Challenges in Urban Development

Institutional challenges

  • Urban Governance – 74th amendment act has not been implemented properly by the state governments; they have not fully empowered the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). ULBs have to be provided with enough financial resources and autonomy with a clear delegation of functions and responsibilities.
  • Planning – It is heavily centralized and outdated. It does not reflect the problems of urban local dwellers.
  • Finances – State governments are showing less intent in fiscal responsibility and budget management. They do not have innovative ideas to increase revenue and because of lesser transparency and accountability banks are reluctant to provide loans for infrastructure projects.
  • Regulator – no clear regulations to check the corrupt practices in real estate sector.

Infrastructural challenges

  • Housing – with increasing cost of houses lower income groups are forced to reside in congested places which are devoid of proper ventilation, lighting, water, sewage, etc.
  • Safe Drinking Water – The sources of drinking water are getting contaminated and future generation will face huge water crises without a drastic improvement in the water availability.
  • Sanitation
  • Many urban areas like slums and unauthorized colonies have bad sanitation and drainage facilities.
  • This unhygienic condition leads to many diseases such as diarrhea and malaria.
  • Unsafe garbage disposal and management facilities.
  • Health conditions – condition of health in some urban poor areas are worst compared to rural areas. There is huge loss of life due to basic amenities like drinking water, clean air etc.
  • Urban public transport – due to less penetration of public transport high income individual are buying more private vehicle causing more traffic jam and air pollution.

Other challenges

  • Environmental concern – Various practices are adversely affecting the environment like over reliance on hydrocarbons to meet the energy requirements.
  • Urban Crime
  • Poverty and Employment

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Steps Taken by Government to Improve Urban Development

  • The Constitution (74th Amendment) Act
  • The act has given local bodies more power.
  • A uniform pattern and criteria is now created to set up the municipalities, this has reduced the discretionary powers of state governments to set up local bodies.

National Urban Transport Policy,2006

  • The main objective of this policy was to provide affordable, comfortable, safe, quick, reliable and clean urban transport system, for city residents.

National Urban Renewal Mission(NURM), 2005

  • NURM consisted of two sub-missions
  • Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG)
  • Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP)
  • The main aims of NURM were
  • To create infrastructure services which are economically productive.
  • Increase investment in urban infrastructure and to make it more efficient
  • Planned development of inner city areas and creating equitable urban services which are within the reach of urban poor.

Introduction of Metro trains in various cities

  • Monorail – India’s first monorail was inaugurated in Mumbai on 2nd February 2014.

Smart Cities Mission

  • Launched in the year 2014 with an aim to have 100 smart cities.
  • With bottom-up approach has the key planning principle, the mission aims to develop basic infrastructure like power and water supply, good sanitation and urban waste management, efficient public transport, e-governance etc.
  • The mission is centrally funded with a budgetary allocation of 48,000 crore for the selected cities.
  • Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) is created for implementation of the mission; this involves an active support from State Governments and Urban Local Bodies.
  • SPV is headed by a full time CEO and have nominees of Central, State and ULB on its Board.
  • Various foreign countries have shown interest in the project like Japan is supporting to build Chennai, Ahmedabad and Varanasi as smart cities.

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)

  • AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
  • The main aim of the mission is to ensure basic infrastructure services are available at 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above.
  • States governments have been given the flexibility of designing the scheme, they only have to submit state annual action plan.
  • Central assistance – 50% of project cost for locations with a population of up to 10 lakhs and one-third for projects in locations with a population of more than 10 lakhs.
  • State governments have to transfer funds to ULBs within 7 days of transfer by central government and there is penal provision for diversion of funds.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)

  • On October 2014 SBM was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The aim of SBM is to achieve universal sanitation coverage.
  • The mission aims to make India clean by 2019 which is 150th Birth Anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • It is world’s largest sanitation program.
  • The SBM has two sub-missions:
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)

Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban)

  • Elimination of open defecation in urban areas.
  • Converting insanitary toilets to pour flush toilets and building more public toilets.
  • Eradicating manual scavenging.
  • Upgrading municipal solid waste management practices in all 4041 statutory towns.
  • Creating awareness about healthy sanitation practices.
  • Strengthening of ULBs to implement the objectives of SBM.

Asli Tarakki

  • Launched by the Ministry of Urban Development it is a campaign under SBM whose main aim is to create awareness of SBM in cities of NCR.
  • More than 450 young men and women have been selected as “lead motivators” to spread awareness about SBM.

Swachh Survekshan 2018

  • Swachh Survekshan was launched by the Union Ministry of Urban Development in the year 2017
  • The aim is to rank 500 cities or towns with a population of 1 lakh and above on the basis of cleanliness.
  • Quality Council of India (QCI) will conduct the survey; this will enhance competition to improve sanitation.
  • Overall rank will be on the basis of data provided by ULBs, data collected through independent assessment and feedback from citizens.
  • Swachh Survekshan 2018 adjudicated Indore as the cleanest city followed by Bhopal and Chandigarh.

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)

  • Construct 2 crore houses across the nation under the mission Housing for All by 2022.
  • Covers all 4041 statutory towns.
  • Beneficiaries include economically weaker section (EWS), low income groups (LIGs) and Middle-Income Groups (MIGs).
  • The beneficiary family should not own a pucca house either in his/her name or in the name of any member of his/her family in any part of India.
  • Central assistance to Urban Local Bodies
  • In-situ rehabilitation of slum dwellers using land as a resource through public – private partnership.
  • Credit Linked Subsidy (CLSS)
  • Subsidies for beneficiaries for house construction or enhancement.
  • Geo-tagging to monitor the progress of house construction.
  • Public Financial Management System (PFMS) to ensure electronic fund flow
  • Technology Sub-Mission to implement new construction technologies.

Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission

  • To uplift the living conditions of urban poor by augmenting sustainable livelihood opportunities through skill development.
  • Urban poor – Street Vendors, Slum dwellers, Homeless, Rag pickers, Unemployed, Differently abled.
  • Some of the important aims – providing skills for employment, providing shelter to urban homeless, developing markets for vendors.

Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY)

  • HRIDAY aims to preserve and revitalize the great cultural heritage of the country.
  • A Central Sector Scheme.
  • The 12 cities selected for the scheme are Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Warangal, Puri, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Varanasi and Velankanni.
  • Combining urban planning, economic growth and heritage preservation together for heritage cities.
  • To enhance beautification and connectivity of heritage cities.

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Key challenges in urbanization schemes

  • India Lags on Implementation
  • Smart City’ – only 30 % of the sanctioned projects have been completed.
  • Not enough progress in Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
  • Annually recurrence of floods in Mumbai, dengue in Delhi and lakes on fire in Bengaluru paint a dismal picture.
  • Slow progress of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project or bullet train project.
  • Lacking Finance – low level of urban infrastructure investment and capacity building.
  • Lacking planning and policy
  • No clear land policy.
  • ULBs don’t have enough powers and finances.
  • Lacking micro level planning which includes infrastructures which are resilient to natural disasters
  • Lacking cooperative and competitive federalism.
  • Lacking citizen participation.
  • Other failures
  • Issue of urban migration, overpopulation and unemployment.
  • Corruption and crony capitalism in real estate sector.
  • Lacking commitment to environment sustainability and less focus on Climate resilient Infrastructure.
  • Taking urbanization as challenge rather than opportunity.
  • Less use of modern technologies.

The rapid urbanization is promoting social and economic changes in the society but this is also promoting inequality as growth is not evenly distributed. Urbanization is a complex and evolving process, with many players interacting and influencing each other; and despite governments huge efforts, the outcomes of these interactions are difficult to control and are sometimes unpredictable.

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