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
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.