Improved water and sanitation facilities, better housing, streamlined transportation systems and waste management are some of the services that smaller cities in the country can look forwards to in the next phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the flagship programme of the Union Urban Development Ministry.
The Ministry is keen to fund projects that will allow smaller cities that are fast moving towards urbanisation a chance to have and upgrade basic services.
“The Census 2011 data has shown that the smaller cities are growing much faster than the larger ones that have a million plus population. The Ministry takes this development in a positive sense. Accordingly, it would recommend that the next phase of JNNURM should provide greater focus on the smaller cities. The larger cities should be able to generate finances from the market, by leveraging their assets, such as the lands and even intangible sources such as the land related levies,” Dr. Sudhir Krishna, Secretary MoUD told The Hindu.
53 million plus cities
According to the Census of India in 2001 the population of million plus cities was 7.81 crore which has increased to 16.07 crore in 2011. In 2001 there were 35 million plus cities which constituted 37.85 per cent of the total Urban Population, whereas in 2011 the 53 million plus cities constituted 42.62 per cent.
States that are yet to complete the projects that were part of the first phase of the JNNURM, launched seven years ago have been given time till March 2014 to wrap up the work, the next leg of the programme is expected to take off after the previous works are concluded.
Despite heavy spending by the Centre, the first phase has not been credited with successful achievement of projects, a recent audit by the Comptroller and the Auditor General of India revealed hold-ups in implementation of projects, their monitoring and even the guidelines that were issued.
Admitting that there have been delays on the part of States to complete and implement projects, the Ministry wants to now focus on planned development. The ambit of the city will be expanded to include peri-urban areas to allow seamless growth, the Ministry says.
“While we recognise the principle that cities are the engines of growth, we also accept that cities need to adopt planned development. The JNNURM would also focus on the integrated city planning. We would like the word ‘city’ to mean and include the ‘peri-urban areas’, as these are the growth regions for tomorrow,” Dr. Krishna said.
Strain on cities
Migration to cities, driven primarily by economic considerations and the strain that it has put on housing, transportation and the ecosystems also figures in the Ministry’s agenda. Seamless transport, easier commuting between the city and the suburbs and transit corridors have been included in the focus areas.
“Development of the cities would have to be based on ‘transit oriented’ approaches. The provision of the other basic infrastructure, including the water and sanitation and solid waste management etc., would also get more attention,” he said.
And along with development of urbanised areas, the Ministry is equally keen to preserve heritage. “The other aspect of re-development of the older parts of the cities, keeping the heritage preservation in view, would also get attention of the Government,” Dr. Krishna pointed out.