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Reduction in urban poverty is our top priority: Selja

Special Correspondent
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‘National Urban Livelihood Mission will advance inclusive growth'

Addressing Urban poverty: Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja (second from left) and N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys (second from right), at the India Urban Conference 2011 in Mysore on Thursday. Also present are Ramesh Ramanathan and Swathi Ramanathan of Janaagraha. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
Addressing Urban poverty: Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja (second from left) and N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys (second from right), at the India Urban Conference 2011 in Mysore on Thursday. Also present are Ramesh Ramanathan and Swathi Ramanathan of Janaagraha. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja said here on Thursday that the Government would launch the National Urban Livelihood Mission during the 12th Five Year Plan to address issues of urban poverty.

Speaking at the India Urban Conference 2011, Ms. Selja said the objective of the Mission was to promote employability of the urban poor and make them economically productive, as urban poverty reduction was her Ministry's top priority. Ms. Selja said the proposed mission was expected to promote inclusive growth in cities and towns, and help reduce inequity in urban areas.

Describing cities as engines of productivity and development, the Minister also called for overhauling the concept of ‘master planning' of cities, which she described as exclusivist in nature, catering only to some sections of society and while being unsuitable for the urban poor.

‘Tedious'

The master planning process was a tedious and lengthy process confined only to land-use patterns and development control without addressing major urban issues related to transportation, poverty, housing etc. while the planning process was not participatory, Ms. Selja said.

“While economic growth and urbanisation go hand in hand, and 60 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated in urban areas, most of our cities are unplanned and haphazard, leading to slums and urban sprawl,” the Minister said. India's economic growth could not be sustained if its benefits did not percolate to all sections of society, she added.

Key issues pertaining to urban planning revolved around governance, finance and inclusiveness, and the planning process needed revitalisation, Ms. Selja said, calling for greater financial devolution for urban local bodies (ULB) for better planning and implementation. The ULBs also lacked trained personnel and there was a need for an institution to train people for city and town management, she added.

Quoting a McKinsey report on urban India, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys, said nearly 500 million people were expected to live in urban areas by 2030, and this called for massive investment to shore up infrastructure and civic amenities. This called for more public private partnership (PPP) in infrastructure development, and underlined the imperatives of inclusive growth to bridge the gap between the rich and poor.

The conference is being jointly organised by the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, and South Asian Studies Council, Yale Univesity.

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