Cities brace for smart ur­ban­i­sa­tion

The PM’s three­p­ronged ur­ban re­forms are aimed at boost­ing de­vel­op­ment, but for them to be suc­cess­ful hur­dles such as land ac­qui­si­tion need to be over­come

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

The three-pronged ur­ban re­forms drive launched by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on July 25 is ex­pected to pro­vide a much- needed fil­lip for in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment across In­dia.

Launch­ing the schemes – The Atal Mis­sion for Re­ju­ve­na­tion and Ur­ban Trans­for­ma­tion (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mis­sion, and Hous­ing for All (Ur­ban), Modi said that res­i­dents them­selves would now get an op­por­tu­nity to de­cide how smart cities should be built, rather than de­vel­op­ers.

“This is the first time in In­dia that we are plan­ning to de­velop 60 cities si­mul­ta­ne­ously. The de­ci­sion to make cities smart will be taken not by gov­ern­ments but by the peo­ple of the city, the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Modi said, adding “ur­ban­i­sa­tion should be viewed as an op­por­tu­nity and ur­ban cen­tres should be viewed as growth en­gines.”

While 500 citi es will be de­vel­oped un­der the AMRUT scheme, 100 smart cities will come up over the next f ive years. Un­der the Hous­ing for All scheme, two crore houses will be con­structed in ur­ban ar­eas in the next seven years. The smart city and AMRUT projects will draw ₹ 48,000 crore and ₹ 50,000 crore, re­spec­tively, in cen­tral grants.

Smart cities will be se­lected through a com­pe­ti­tion, a mech­a­nism aimed at end­ing the top­down ap­proach, l ead­ing to peo­ple-cen­tric ur­ban de­vel­op­ment. The schemes have been pre­pared not just by the gov­ern­ment alone but in­volved per­haps the big­gest con­sul­ta­tion ex­er­cise ever taken by the Union gov­ern­ment, in­volv­ing all stake­hold­ers and ex­am­in­ing global best prac­tices, Modi said.

In­fra­struc­ture growth will be key. In­vest­ments of more than ₹ 3 lakh crore planned in the next five years un­der AMRU T, H o u s i n g f o r A l l (Ur­ban) and the Smart Cities Mis­sion, will pro­vide a strong im­pe­tus for growth in more t han 250 al­lied i ndus­tries. The goal of build­ing more than 20 mil­lion homes for the ur­ban poor will help bridge the de­mand-sup­ply gap in af­ford­able hous­ing, says David Walker, MD of SARE Homes.

The gov­ern­ment, how­ever, needs to ur­gently ad­dress land ac­qui­si­tion and ap­proval is­sues,

cre­ate a sin­gle- win­dow clear­ance sys­tem and curb the plethora of taxes on real es­tate de­vel­op­ment so that tight dead­lines can be ad­hered to. If these bar­ri­ers are elim­i­nated, public and pri­vate de­vel­op­ers could join hands in mak­ing the gov­ern­ment’s ur­ban de­vel­op­ment mis­sion a ground re­al­ity, Walker adds.

In­di­vid­ual cities will need to lever­age all these three schemes in a co­or­di­nated man­ner since no city will ever be 100% smart, un­less its cit­i­zens are pro­vided qual­ity wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion, solid waste man­age­ment, which are the key fo­cus ar­eas for AMRUT and de­cent hous­ing for the ur­ban poor, which is the fo­cus for the Hous­ing for All pro­gramme, says Arindam Guha, se­nior di­rec­tor, Deloitte in In­dia.

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