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NITI Aayog’s Conference on Urban Infrastructure

  • Category
    Economy
  • Published
    29th Nov, 2018

NITI Aayog hosted South Asian regional conference in New Delhi to discuss the key issues, perspectives and the way forward in the Urban Infrastructure.

Issue

Context

  • NITI Aayog hosted South Asian regional conference in New Delhi to discuss the key issues, perspectives and the way forward in the Urban Infrastructure.
  • Conference was partnered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Background

  • The South Asian regional conference is a first of its kind, with participation of leaders from the government, industry, research organizations, academia, think tanks and civil society.
  • In recent decades, cities in South and South West Asia have seen continuous and rapid urbanization, from 28 per cent of the region’s population living in urban areas in 1990 to 36.6 per cent in 2017.
  • The urban population in this region is expected to further grow by almost 250 million people by 2030.
  • There are an estimated 130 million people who reside in the slums of South Asia’s cities, and are disproportionately deprived of access to basic services and infrastructure.
  • These gaps must be addressed, so that the cities can grow in an equitably and environmentally responsible way.

About

Urban Infrastructure

  • According to the Ministry of Urban Development, ‘Urban Infrastructure’ should be equipped with all the necessary facilities.
  • It should give a decent quality of life to its residents, promising clean and sustainable environment by applying smart solutions in the domain of sanitation, waste management, public transport and governance.

Analysis

Why does India need improvement in Urban Infrastructure?

  • Nearly 31% of India’s current population lives in urban areas contributing 63% of India’s GDP (Census 2011) and with increasing urbanisation, urban areas are expected to house 40% of India’s population and contribute to 75% of India’s GDP by 2030.
  • There exist large infrastructure gaps which are holding back growth and opportunities to reduce poverty and contributing to environmental degradation and inequality in the country.
  • With an aim to improve the quality of life and attract investments to the city, the Government of India has launched various urban development schemes such as Smart City Mission, AMRUT, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Housing for all (Urban), Swachh Bharat Mission- Urban etc.

    Smart Cities Mission: It is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with a mission to develop 100 cities that will provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and creating a replicable model which will be an example for other aspiring cities.

    Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT): The purpose of (AMRUT) is to:

    • Ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection.
    • Increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces (e.g. parks)
    • Reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g. walking and cycling)
    • The total outlay for AMRUT is USD 7.77 billion for five years from FY 2015-16 to FY 2019-204 and 500 towns will receive benefits. The scheme based on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model will be integrated with Housing for All by 2022.

    Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Housing For All (Urban): To be implemented during 2015-2022, it will provide central assistance to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) and other implementing agencies through States/UTs for:

    • In-situ rehabilitation of existing slum dwellers using land as a resource through private participation.
    • Credit-linked subsidy
    • Affordable housing in partnership
    • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement.

    Swacch Bharat Mission- Urban: Mission Objectives:

    • Modern and scientific Municipal Solid Waste Management
    • To affect behavioural change regarding healthy sanitation practices
    • Generate awareness about sanitation and its linkage with public health
    • Capacity augmentation for Urban Local Bodies (ULBs)
    • To create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capex (capital expenditure) and Opex (operation and maintenance).

    Challenges

    • Financing: Infrastructure projects are highly capital intensive and funding is considered as a major impediment in achieving the infrastructure goals. Since resource constraints will continue to limit public investment in infrastructure, PPP-based development needs to be encouraged wherever feasible.
    • Land Acquisition: One of the significant challenges in achieving the infrastructure goal is the way land acquisition is done for infrastructure projects. There is always a substantial difference between the compensation offered and the actual value of the land. The land owners always feel aggrieved which results in dispute and litigation.
    • Need for clearances from numerous agencies: Most of the infrastructure projects in India suffer from delays in completion. This is mainly due to an inadequate regulatory framework and inefficiency in the approval process. Infrastructure projects require multiple sequential clearances at various levels of government which delay the infrastructure projects.
    • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): Environmental safeguards and guidelines have proven to be one of the major reasons for delay in infrastructure projects, especially in the power sector. While new projects need to comply with these regulations, even a project under construction may need to comply with revised standards midway through the execution stage.
    • Poor pre-construction planning: Due to adverse effect of various impediments like land acquisition, statutory approvals, delayed financial closure, etc. the pre-construction phase of infrastructure projects is pretty long. Therefore, there is delayed commissioning and completion of projects.

    Way Forward

    • Considering the quantum deficit in infrastructure implementation today vis-à-vis the demand, it is imperative to focus on newer means of implementing and financing urban infrastructure. In India alone, until 2040, estimated investments of around $4.5 trillion are required in the infrastructure space.
    • Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) has been one such option, which enables governments to optimally share the risks associated with a project during its life-cycle and in the process, extend the reach and the scope of the public delivery systems.
    • Further, to implement urban infrastructure in India, a deeper deliberation is required on the means of democratising the governance at the city level with a view towards providing greater operational and fiscal autonomy to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
    • Migration of large population to urban centres is causing new cities to emerge and existing ones to expand. This is causing rapid urbanization. Therefore, India needs to develop satellite cities for which the need is of mass-transport systems.
    • There must be a “single window statutory clearance”, including Environmental clearance to projects.
    • While fiscal support is the dominant factor for infrastructure development, equally important will be enabling policies from the government’s side.

Learning Aid

Practice Question:

What is the importance of urban infrastructure for the development of India? Enumerate the impeding factors affecting growth of urban infrastructure in India.

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