3rd JANUARY 2017
Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.
Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.
GS III: INFRASTRUCTURE – URBAN PLANNING
1. Urban planning has witnessed a major upthrust in the past few years. Discuss.
- The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched in 2005 was no doubt the first concerted effort to make a difference to the urban chaos. However, by the time it was wound up in March 2014, the JNNURM fell much short of intentions.
- Under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart Cities Mission meant for improving urban infrastructure, there shall be a comprehensive assessment of infrastructure deficit before drawing up city-level action plans. Cities have been empowered to add to their technical capabilities. And now there is clear evidence that cities are rising to the occasion by rediscovering themselves.
- Citizen participation in urban planning and project prioritisation are made mandatory. About one crore citizens contributed to the making of ‘smart city’ plans. Urban planning is now made ‘bottom up’ and the results are showing.
- The first priority under AMRUT is to ensure water supply connections to the 2.25 crore urban households that are deprived of them, followed by improving sewerage networks, drainage and non-motorised urban transport. Developing one park in each city every year is mandatory.
- The Smart Cities Mission seeks to ensure core infrastructure, including health care and education, in an identified area besides improving service delivery across the city through information and communications technology-based solutions. The focus has shifted from a project-based approach to area-based outcomes.
- Under AMRUT, 86 per cent of mission investments stand approved and a large number of projects are off the ground.
- Since the announcement of the first batch of smart cities in January 2016, a large number of projects have already come to be implemented.
- Objectivity and transparency in selection of cities and allocation of central resources under new urban missions are the rule of law. This is based on urban population and the number of statutory urban local bodies in each State.
- After long years of neglect and alienation, cities are now vying for credit rating, which encompasses the entire gamut of urban governance, including the mindset of politicians and the city officials.
- Pune and Ahmedabad are set to issue municipal bonds soon. Release of funds is now linked to progress of mandated governance reforms under all new urban missions including the housing mission. Online integrated single-window clearance for construction permits is being put in place to improve ease of doing business. Cities are now looking at public-private partnership and value capture financing with a changed mindset.
- Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), construction of about 15 lakh affordable houses is being financed.
- Over 500 cities and towns have already become open defecation-free. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Sikkim have already declared all cities and towns as open defecation-free as the Swachh Bharat Mission gains momentum as a people’s movement.