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30th May 2024 (13 Topics)

Urban Infrastructure Challenges and the AMRUT Scheme

Context

The increasing urbanization in India has put a spotlight on the country's infrastructure needs. In light of this emerging issue, the AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) scheme, along with its more ambitious version, AMRUT 2.0, has been a topic of significant discussion and analysis.

Urbanization in India

  • Currently, 36% of India's population lives in cities, a figure expected to exceed 50% by 2047.
  • The World Bank estimates that USD 840 billion is needed over the next 15 years to fund essential urban infrastructure.

Introduction to the AMRUT Scheme

  • The Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) was launched by the Indian government in June 2015, with a second version (AMRUT 2.0) introduced on October 1, 2021.
  • Goals of AMRUT
    • Water Supply and Sewerage: Ensure every household has a tap with a reliable water supply and a sewerage connection.
    • Urban Greenery: Develop parks and open spaces.
    • Pollution Reduction: Promote public transport and non-motorized transport facilities.
  • AMRUT 2.0: AMRUT 2.0 aims to make cities ‘water secure’ and provide functional water tap connections to all households. It targets 100% sewage management in 500 cities, with a total outlay of Rs 2,99,000 crore over five years, including ?76,760 crore from the Central government.
  • Progress so far (Utilization of Funds): As of May 19, 2024, USD 83,357 crore has been spent under the AMRUT scheme. Achievements include:
    • 58,66,237 tap connections.
    • 37,49,467 sewerage connections.
    • Development of 2,411 parks.
    • Installation of 62,78,571 LED lights.

Challenges of Urban Infrastructure

Despite efforts, significant challenges remain:

  • Inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene cause about 200,000 deaths annually.
  • India's disease burden from unsafe water and sanitation is 40 times higher than China's.
  • Many reservoirs are only 40% full, and 21 major cities are at risk of running out of groundwater.
  • A NITI Aayog report predicts 40% of India's population will lack drinking water by 2030.
  • 31% of urban households lack piped water, and 67.3% are not connected to sewerage systems.
  • The average urban water supply is 69.25 liters per person per day, far below the required 135 liters.
  • Air quality in AMRUT cities continues to deteriorate. The National Clean Air Programme was launched in 2019 to address this, as AMRUT 2.0 focuses primarily on water and sewerage.
Issues with AMRUT
  • Project-Oriented Approach: The scheme lacked a holistic view, focusing narrowly on projects.
  • Lack of City Participation: Cities were not actively involved in the scheme’s design or implementation.
  • Bureaucratic and Private Dominance: Managed by bureaucrats and private companies, with minimal input from elected city officials.
  • Ineffective Water Management: Failed to consider local climate and infrastructure, resulting in inefficient sewage treatment systems.
  • Real Estate Focus: Urban planning was overshadowed by real estate development, leading to the disappearance of water bodies and poor storm water management.
Fact Box:  Other Government Schemes for Developing City Infrastructure in India
  • Smart Cities Mission: Launched in June 2015, the mission aims to promote sustainable and inclusive cities that provide core infrastructure, clean and sustainable environments, and a decent quality of life to their citizens.
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana: Launched in June 2015, this scheme aims to provide affordable housing for all poor.
  • HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana): Launched in January 2015, HRIDAY aims to preserve and revitalize the heritage character of cities.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban): Launched in October 2014, this mission aims to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management.
  • Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban): Launched in February 2021, this mission aims to ensure universal coverage of water supply and coverage of sewerage and septage.

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