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[op-ed snap] The Invisible Majority: Women form 80 per cent of urban migrants


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems and remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached stories

Mains level: The newscard discusses some women specific issues related to the Urban Migration. As women form 80 per cent of urban migrants, we need a public policy to address their issues.


UN report on urban migration in India

  1. The report says India is on the “brink of an urban revolution”, as its population in towns and cities are expected to reach 600 million by 2031
  2. Fuelled by migration, megacities of India (Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata) will be among the largest urban concentrations in the world

Women as urban migrants

  1. The 2011 Census reveals that women form almost 80 per cent of internal migration
  2. An Indiaspend analysis of Census shows that women migrating for work grew by 101 per cent — more than double the growth rate for men (48.7 per cent)
  3. However, both the Census and National Sample Survey Office have failed to capture this trend
  4. These continue to cite marriage as the primary reason for women migration
    The main issue
  5. Consequently, such surveys treat women as secondary earners and ignore her other motivations for migration and her labour participation post migration

The problems faced by women migrants

  1. They remain mostly discriminated in the workforce and invariably suffer economic exclusion
  2. Denied maternity benefits or special care and more vulnerable to sexual harassment, these women migrants are more likely to be paid less than male migrants and non-migrant women
  3. In addition to low pay and inhuman working conditions

Low-skilled women migrants often get work that is saddled with health hazards

  1. According to a study by Cividep, garment workers in Bengaluru, comprising 90 per cent women migrants
  2. They often suffer from respiratory illness, tuberculosis, ergonomic problems like back pain, mental health problems such as depression
  3. and reproductive health issues such as white discharge, irregular periods and excessive bleeding

What should be done?

  1. The first step should be better data collection
  2. Capturing the complex dynamics of gender-specific migration would improve the visibility of women as economic actors and help the state respond better to their needs
  3. Aadhaar card to women migrants can ensure her access to basic needs, opening of Jan Dhan accounts and availing benefits of the National Health Protection Mission

We can learn from other countries

  1. India can learn from countries such as Austria, Belgium, Norway, Romania, UK, etc which provide vocational training to improve employability of women migrants and access to support services
  2. The “We the Women” programme of Vietnam that helped create job opportunities for women migrants is also worth studying
    Indian Example
  3. States should emulate Kerala which provide insurance and free medical treatment for its 30 million migrant workers

The way forward

  1. Women migrants have a right to equal access to employment, adequate income and social protection
  2. An inclusive National Urban Policy should integrate migration and the needs of migrants(in particular women migrants)

[op-ed snap] Growing cities: Migration from rural areas


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems and remedies

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Mains Level: Specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.



  1. A fresh look at urban governance is necessary as migration from rural areas picks up pace

2018 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects: By the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

  1. Forecasting for the year 2050, the UN agency has estimated that the percentage of urban residents in India would be 52.8, compared to 34 today
  2. Delhi would edge past Tokyo as the world’s most populous city by 2028
  3. India, China and Nigeria are expected to lead other countries and account for 35% of the projected growth in urban population by mid-century

This forecast frames the challenge before developing countries, India in particular

The imperative before the Government

  1. The government should  come up with policies that provide adequate services in the villages
    (while investing in cities to ensure that their high levels of productivity and efficiency are not compromised)

Crucial issues in Indian Cities

  1. Housing deficits have led to the proliferation of slums,
  2. lack of enforcement of building norms has left the metros heavily congested, and
  3. poor investment in public transport has fuelled unsustainable levels of private vehicle use
  4. Most cities are also unable to collect and dispose of municipal waste scientifically, and simply dump them in the suburbs
  5. Such a dismal scenario can only get worse with higher population concentrations, unless city governments come into their own

What should be done?

  1. Now is the time to take a fresh look at urban governance
  2. While the Centre’s goal of homes for all by 2022 is laudable, it is unlikely to be realised without a push from the States
  3. Integrating green spaces, open commons and wetlands will make cities cleaner and aesthetically richer


The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)

  1. It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences, as well as services to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Second and Third Committees of the United Nations General Assembly
  2. UN DESA assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges
  3. It supports international cooperation to promote sustainable development for all, having as a foundation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015
  4. In providing a broad range of analytical products, policy advice, and technical assistance, UN DESA effectively translates global commitments in the economic, social and environmental spheres into national policies and actions and continues to play a key role in monitoring progress towards internationally agreed-upon development goals
  5. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group

[op-ed snap] A change in approach to make our cities liveable


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems and remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, HRIDAY and Housing For All, etc.

Mains level: The newscard comprehensively discusses some issues related to Urbanisation in India. And it also talks about some possible solutions for improving the condition of Indian cities.



  1. Our cities are in a mess and the quality of life they offer is either worsening, or improving painfully slowly, depending on where you live

Special attention for sustainable urbanisation

  1. In the last three years, we have seen historically unprecedented amounts of money being set aside for municipalities through
    (1) 14th Finance Commission grants and
    (2) the five central schemes of AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation), Smart Cities Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission, HRIDAY (Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana) and Housing For All

The Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS)

  1. The results of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2017 report, the fifth edition since 2013, dispels the notion that doing more of the same will transform our cities
  2. ASICS 2017 is an objective, facts-based study of the quality of governance in our cities and it shows an average improvement in the governance score of cities from 3.4 out of 10 in 2015 to just 3.9 out of 10 in 2017
  3. The scores of 23 cities across 20 states covered by ASICS 2017 are in the range of 3.0-5.1, with 12 of the 23 scoring less than 4 on 10
  4. ASICS evaluated these 23 cities on four city systems:
    (1) urban planning and design;
    (2) urban capacities and resources (mainly finance and staffing);
    (3) empowered and legitimate political representation; and
    (4) transparency, accountability and participation
  5. The overarching finding is that governance systems in our cities are broken
  6. The unequivocal message from ASICS 2017 (as also its previous editions) is that as a country we need to invest significantly in strengthening the municipality as an institution

What should be done?

  1. Chief ministers need to put in place city blueprints which have five components
  2. First, quantitative goals for a five-year period
  3. e.g. number of kilometres of walkable footpaths in the city or number of households for whom piped water supply would be extended
  4. Second, detailed activity road maps with quarterly milestones (comprising both reforms and projects),
  5. on how the quantitative goals are proposed to be achieved and how simultaneously institutional strengthening would happen
  6. Third, single owners at the city level to be appointed in whom accountability can be vested for sectors such as mobility, water supply, sanitation, housing, safety, etc.
    (rather than having multiple agencies handle parts of the same quality of life area)
  7. Fourth, performance dashboards which are published quarterly and show progress against quantitative goals and activity milestones
  8. Fifth, an institutional structure that overcomes the significant challenge of fragmentation of governance in a city across the municipality, the development authority, the water board, state departments such as traffic police, etc

The way forward

  1. City blueprints are not a pipe dream but are politically feasible
  2. Countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines have accomplished much in their cities through such means, led by state- and city-level political leaders
  3. We need a broad coalition of stakeholders to adopt a positive narrative on institution-building and better city systems along with the narrative on outcomes

Measurable development: When cities compete


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission, Swachh Survekshan, Liveability Index, Global Liveability Ranking

Mains level: Innovative methods to tackle urbanization problems


Rankings as a tool to gauge urban development

  1. The launch of the Smart Cities Mission in June 2015 spurred urban conurbations to compete for central grants for the first time
  2. The number of cities selected under the mission has risen to 99 already, with proposed investments of over Rs 2 lakh crore
  3. 2015 had also seen the launch of another such competitive development programme – the Swachh Survekshan – among cities to improve urban sanitation
  4. It covered 73 cities and has now been extended to all 4,041 cities in the country

Increasing use of such city rankings

  1. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has now decided to bring out a Liveability Index of 116 cities
  2. These include the 99 smart cities, state capitals, and cities with 1 million-plus population
  3. These cities will be ranked in order of the quality of life they offer
  4. For the 2018 survey, liveability standards with 79 indicators in 15 categories would be used for measuring institutional, social, economic, and physical aspects that affect the quality of life

Global rankings

  1. The Economist Intelligence Unit publishes an annual Global Liveability Ranking
  2. It ranks 140 cities by their urban quality of life based on assessments of stability, healthcare, culture, and environment, education and infrastructure
  3. Intergovernmental organizations such as the EU and UN-Habitat were among the first to try to compare outcomes in city and metropolitan areas

Pune tops quality of governance list


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems,

Mains level: Problems posed by urbanization in India


Quality of governance among Indian cities

  1. Pune, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, and Bhubaneswar have the best quality of governance among Indian cities in 2017, a study has found
  2. The cities were scored based on the quality of laws, policies, institutions and institutional processes that together help govern them, according to the report

Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems

  1. It spans 23 Indian cities and factors in answers to 89 questions
  2. It is undertaken by Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy
  3. ASICS groups questions into four categories: urban planning & design; urban capacities & resources; transparency, accountability & participation; and empowered & legitimate political representation
  4. The report addresses five major issues and suggests solutions at the local body, State, and Central government levels

Problems being faced by Indian cities

  1. A weak urban planning framework
  2. Stability of finances
  3. Lack of skilled staff and poor management of human resources
  4. Fragmentation of governance and low levels of empowerment of mayors and councilors

Smart City Mission: Resonating with global climate themes

Image source


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: One Planet City Challenge, World Wildlife Fund for Nature

Mains level: India’s efforts at tackling rising urbanization


3 cities enter ‘One Planet City Challenge’

  1. Three Indian cities — Panaji, Pune, and Rajkot have been selected as national finalists in the 2017-18 edition of World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF)’s One Planet City Challenge (OPCC)
  2. These are among the 99 cities under the Government of India’s Smart City Mission

More competition ahead

  1. The three cities have moved on to the next phase of the challenge and will now compete for the title of National and Global Winner
  2. Over the last four years, cities that have won global challenge include – Paris (2016), Seoul (2015) Cape Town (2014) and Vancouver (2013)


One Planet City Challenge (OPCC)

  1. The One Planet City Challenge, previously known as the Earth Hour City Challenge, invites cities in participating countries to report ambitious and innovative climate actions and to demonstrate how they are delivering on the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change
  2. Data is entered on the carbonn Climate Registry, and outreach and support is provided to cities in collaboration with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
  3. Final plans and data are then reviewed by an international jury of experts tasked with identifying the most outstanding cities
  4. Since the inception of the Challenge in 2011, WWF has engaged over 411 cities across 5 continents
  5. In 2017, 118 cities in 23 countries participated in the OPCC, which had a thematic focus on Sustainable transport and mobility as a major challenge facing cities everywhere

Image source

[pib] Indo-German MOU on technical cooperation under Sustainable Urban Development programme & Smart Cities in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart Cities mission

Mains level: Urban transformation and challenges involved


  • An Indo-German MOU has been signed for an “Implementation Agreement in Sustainable Urban Development and Smart Cities in India
  •  The target is to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’

Objective of the programme :

  •  To develop and apply concepts for sustainable urban development about the provision of urban basic services and housing in selected cities and Smart Cities in India

Focus Areas

  • Sustainable urban development in the area of integrated planning,
  • provision of affordable housing
  • and basic services with particular focus on water,
  • wastewater and solid waste management and mobility

Delhi, Mumbai to be among world’s 10 biggest cities by 2030: UN report


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects

Mains level: Growing urbanization and steps needed to provide better facilities for city residents


Delhi, Mumbai to be Megacities

  1. Delhi and Mumbai would be among the 10 largest cities in the world by 2030
  2. This was stated in a report released by the United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects

Changes till 2030

  1. As per the report, the population in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa is only going to increase by 2030
  2. At present, Tokyo is the most populated city in the world with a population of 38 million
  3. Delhi and Mumbai will be second and fourth largest cities in the world respectively

[op-ed snap] A pressing need for a national urban policy


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems and remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard discusses the importance of a National Urban Policy.


UN-Habitat “World Cities Report 2016”

  1. As per Census 2011, 377 million Indians comprising 31.1% of the total population lived in urban areas
  2. This is estimated to have risen to 420 million in 2015
  3. But India’s level of urbanization is lower than its peer group of developing countries: China (45%), Indonesia (54%), Mexico (78%) and Brazil (87%)
  4. India is in the midst of a major urbanization boom

Urbanisation: Challenges

  1. Indian cities face challenges in terms of deficits in infrastructure, governance and sustainability
  2. With rapid urbanization, these problems are going to aggravate, and can cumulatively pose a challenge to India’s growth trajectory

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut)

  1. The mission lays emphasis on creating infrastructure, improving service delivery, making cities smarter for improved livelihood and providing for faster and integrated mobility
  2. It envisages convergence across various initiatives such as Amrut, Smart Cities, Hriday (National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Swachh Bharat

Mobilization of resources: Budget 2018-19

  1. For 2018-19, the government increased the budget for the housing and urban affairs ministry by 2.8%, to Rs41,765 crore

What should be done?

  1. What is truly required is a comprehensive framework that takes a holistic approach to the interrelated challenges that have an impact on the growth of cities
  2. Sustainable urban development needs to be led by the central government working closely with state and local governments
  3. To address this, India needs to develop its own national urban policy (NUP)
  4. Globally, around one-third of countries have a NUP in place

How can a NUP help?

  1. First, such a policy will outline and highlight the importance and objectives of cities
  2. Second, urbanization in India is a complex issue, with the majority of city-related issues being state subjects
  3. States would have to take the lead in order to make cities vibrant economic centres
  4. However, there is a need to build adequate capacities at the state/urban local bodies level to prepare cities for future challenges
  5. The NUP would set the common minimum agenda, involving participation of all stakeholders
  6. Third, a NUP will provide a framework for states, which would be encouraged and nudged to adopt a state version of this policy

National Urban Policy: Single policy for multiple states


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Urban Policy, AMRUT, PMAY-Housing for All, Swachh Bharat, Habitat III, New Urban Agenda, SDGs

Mains level: Tackling urbanization challenges in India


Panel to develop framework for a comprehensive national policy

  1. The Union government is set to come up with India’s first National Urban Policy framework by March this year
  2. The housing and urban affairs ministry has appointed a panel, headed by Smart City Mission Director
  3. The panel, expected to submit its report by March 2018, also includes all mission directors (AMRUT, PMAY-Housing for All, Swachh Bharat), and urban experts from the National Institute of Urban Research, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, and UN-Habitat (India)

Urban planning a state subject

  1. There has never been a comprehensive national policy that spells out the country’s plan for urbanization
  2. This is because urban development is a state subject until now

Habitat III

  1. It is a bi-decennial United Nations (UN) conference on housing and sustainable urban development
  2. New Urban Agenda, released at Habitat III defines what nations are expected to do towards the cause of sustainable urban development in the period 2016-30


  1. Goal No. 11 of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals requires world leaders to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  2. As per UN estimates, urban India will have 583 mn people by 2030, with an addition of 65 mn to the current urban population base

Effect of India’s urbanization on world

  1. India will account for 18-19 percent of the global increase in urban population and therefore its urban development indicators such as water supply, sanitation, garbage management etc will affect global averages
  2. Indian cities currently contribute 63 percent of the country’s GDP

Paradigm shift in tackling urbanization challenges

  1. Taking urbanization as an opportunity rather than a challenge
  2. Citizen-centric approach to align the development agenda of the cities with people’s priorities and needs
  3. Cooperative federalism: Freedom and resources to states/urban local bodies (ULBs) to design and implement
    Focus on infrastructure that leads to delivery of services to citizens
  4. Renewed focus on integrated planning through convergence and qualitative improvements
  5. Commitment to environment sustainability
  6. Focus on inclusive growth
  7. Technology to enhance efficiency of services delivery

India’s vision of urbanization

It lays down 10 broad levers to make cities work towards greater efficiency, inclusion, sustainability, and safety

  1. Putting in place integrated urban policies consistent with principle of co-operative federalism
  2. Harmonise agglomeration economies
  3. Harnessing the rural-urban continuum
  4. Promoting inclusive urban development
  5. Recognise and actively promote the centrality of sustainability
  6. Empowering municipalities and other local level institutions
  7. Strengthening housing finance system
  8. Provision and financing of urban infrastructure and basic services
  9. Access to social justice and gender equity
  10. Robust urban information system

Govt plans liveability index of 116 cities


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Liveability index, Economist Intelligence Unit, Global Liveability Ranking, Liveability Standards

Mains level: Measures being undertaken to improve living conditions in Indian cities


Liveability index planned

  1. The ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has decided to bring out a liveability index of 116 cities, including the 99 smart cities already identified, state capitals, and cities with 1 million-plus population
  2. The cities, which together account for a total population of 13.4 crore people, will be ranked in order of the quality of life they offer

Modus Operandi

  1. The ministry has decided to involve the Economist Intelligence Unit, which brings out an annual liveability index of cities across the world, for the purpose
  2. The EIU of The Economist, the London-based weekly, in alliance with the IPSOS Research Private Limited and Athena Infonomics (India pvt ltd) are going to do an assessment of the liveability index
  3. The programme would be funded by the World Bank, and the assessment would be of relative nature

Global Liveability Ranking

  1. Currently, the EIU’s ‘Global Liveability Ranking’ for 140 cities includes only two Indian cities — Mumbai and Delhi
  2. As per the 2015 index, both cities fare poorly, with Delhi at 100th spot and Mumbai at 115th
  3. The ranking is based on parameters like stability, healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure

‘Liveability Standards’

  1. In June last year ministry had launched a set of ‘Liveability Standards’ relevant to Indian cities
  2. It included 79 indicators in 15 categories for measuring institutional, social, economic and physical aspects that affect quality of life
  3. These included education, healthcare, roads, mobility, jobs, grievance redressal, pollution, emergency response, green open spaces, as well as cultural and entertainment opportunities

Govt to provide ecosystem for raising municipal bonds


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Urbanization , their problems & remedies

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Municipal bonds, AMRUT and Smart cities mission

Mains level: Urban development and issues associated with it


10-year municipal bonds

  1. The ministry of housing and urban affairs is working on a plan to provide an ecosystem in which urban local bodies can raise money through municipal bonds
  2. ULBs will be able to raise money through 10-year municipal bonds backed by land holdings and infrastructure projects
  3. This is being done to resolve a cash crunch at ULBs for development of infrastructure in the cities

Centre’s intervention not desired

  1. Land is a state subject and no state wants centre to come in and design their cities
  2. Municipal bonds will help utilize land assets to raise money

Need of municipal bonds

  1. The government’s move to develop civic infrastructure across the country through the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Smart Cities Mission requires significant capital spending by ULBs
  2. These will have to be funded by market borrowings in addition to government grants
  3. ULBs will have to borrow around Rs15,000 crore to fund projects under AMRUT and the Smart Cities Mission through fiscal 2023


Municipal bonds

  1. Municipal bonds are bonds issued by urban local bodies- municipal bodies and municipal corporates (entities owned by municipal bodies) to raise money for financing specific projects specifically infrastructure projects
  2. Bangalore Municipal Corporation was the first ULB to issue Municipal Bond in India in 1997
  3. Municipal bonds in India has tax-free status if they conform to certain rules and their interest rates will be market-linked
  4. Both public issue and private issue can be adopted for municipal bonds
  5. SEBI has allowed urban local bodies to raise money through the issue of revenue bonds as well
  6. Municipal bonds where the funds raised are kept for one project are termed revenue bonds

[op-ed snap] Making Indian cities more competitive


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Effects of urbanisation on Indian Economy, drivers of city competitiveness and how they can benefit Indian Economy


Why is urbanization important for India?

  1. The growth potential through urbanization is huge, given that India is one of the most densely populated countries in the world
  2. But India is still at an early stage in this transformation, given that it is a lot less urbanized for its stage of development
  3. The 100 smart cities programme is an effort to address this gap

Understanding of what makes cities more competitive

  1. The understanding is still evolving
  2. With more than 600 districts in India, a deeper understanding of the drivers of competitiveness, and providing benchmarks to measure, monitor and improve performance will help local leaders to pursue city competitiveness agenda better

Several drivers of city competitiveness
Demographic traits:

  1. It includes age profile and population density of a city, provide insights into the size of local market, and the potential supply of local entrepreneurs
  2. Most entrepreneurs always start their businesses in their current local area

Structural traits: Physical and Human Infrastructure

  1. Two key structural traits of city competitiveness are its physical and human infrastructure
  2. Basic services like roads, electricity, and water supply are essential for all businesses
  3. But new and small enterprises are particularly dependent upon local infrastructure
  4. Human capital is becoming increasingly more important for city competitiveness
  5. Besides physical and human infrastructure, the overall connectivity of a city to major cities is also an important structural trait of competitiveness

Agglomeration economies: 

  1. A good city infrastructure enables entrepreneurs to benefit from agglomeration economies
  2. Agglomeration economies are the benefits that come when firms and people locate near one another together in cities and industrial clusters

Other drivers of city competitiveness

  1. Two key drivers of city competitiveness in India are education and physical infrastructure
  2. These two structural traits are true for both manufacturing and services
  3. The high population density of a city makes large-scale manufacturing enterprises less competitive, and forces them to move to rural settings to become more competitive
  4. Manufacturers avoid the high costs of urban areas, but they also avoid the most remote areas of India in favour of settings that are relatively near large population centres
  5. likely to access customers directly or to connect to shipping routes

Effects of population and education on different industries

  1. The size of local population of a district plays an important role for informal manufacturing
  2. This contrasts with large firms, where education matters more
  3. Organized manufacturing establishments have access to broader resources that reduce dependency on local infrastructure and household finance
  4. For the service industry, overall district population is as important as it is for the unorganized manufacturing industry

The way forward

  1. India’s urban transformation will take place at a 100 times faster pace than what developed countries have experienced
  2. India is at the forefront of this global transformation
  3. Cities raise special challenges in forming public-private partnerships in building physical and human infrastructure
  4. They also provide a quick opportunity to accelerate growth, create jobs, and promote shared prosperity

Centre mulls aerotropolis in Assam

  • The Centre is planning to build an aerotropolis in Assam and has sought 2,000 acres from the state for the
  • Centre proposed to build an aerotropolis in the state which would bring huge benefits to the region in terms of
    civil aviation and air connectivity.
  • Centre has requested state government to allot 2,000 acres an hour’s journey away from Guwahati city near
    Brahmaputra river.


  • An aerotropolis is a metropolitan subregion where the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered on
    an airport which serves as a multimodal “airport city” commercial core.
  • It is similar in form to a traditional metropolis, which contains a central city commercial core and commuterlinked suburbs.
  • The engine of the aerotropolis is the airport and its air routes which offer firms speedy connectivity to their
    distant suppliers, customers, and enterprise partners worldwide.
  • The aerotropolis encompasses aviation-dependent businesses and the commercial facilities that support
    them and the multitude of air travelers who pass through the airport annually.

[op-ed snap] Challenges of a rapidly urbanising world

  1. Context: Recently concluded UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, in Quito, Ecuador
  2. A once-in-a-generation event, the Habitat conference sets a guiding compass for member-countries for the next 20 years
  3. Central theme of 2016: Challenges of a rapidly urbanising world and of providing people with equal opportunities in cities
  4. Previous years themes: Reducing urban inequality, improving access to housing and sanitation, mobility, and securing the rights of women, children, older adults
  5. Importance for India? India’s ambition to harness science and data for orderly urbanisation is articulated in a set of policy initiatives, chiefly the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation
  6. UN Habitat plans to review country-level progress on its New Urban Agenda in Kuala Lumpur in 2018. India’s performance on improving the quality of life in its cities will be watched
  7. India’s ‘Housing for All’ policy: Low-cost, disaster-resistant, prefabricated constructions are the key

Govt announces 27 new Smart Cities

  1. Maharashtra tops the list with five cities- Aurangabad, Kalyan-Dombivli, Nagpur, Nashik and Thane
  2. Tamil Nadu and Karnatak come second with four cities each

More Smart Cities to be developed

  1. News: The Ministry of Urban Development has now allowed 9 more capitals to participate in the next round of the Smart Cities competition
  2. The total list of Smart Cities to be developed has increased from 100 to 109 after the addition
  3. 9 more capitals are proposed, including Patna, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Amaravati, Itanagar and Gangtok
  4. Context: As per the Urban Development Policy, only 100 cities are listed to be developed as Smart Cities in the next 5 years

What is an international arbitration centre?

  1. IAC is a centre where disputes arising out of commercial agreements from sectors like insurance, shipping, construction, private equity and other trades are handled
  2. Arbitration is different from court litigation and is typically less time-consuming
  3. Why? Because it is done in private between the lawyers representing the aggrieved parties

Singapore Arbitration Centre to open India office

  1. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) will establish a representative office at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City)
  2. Aim: To resolve international commercial disputes
  3. As per the the agreement, GIFTCL, GIFT SEZ and SIAC will collaborate to promote the use of arbitration, mediation and other dispute resolution mechanisms
  4. It also includes the innovative ‘Arb-Med-Arb’ service offered by the SIAC and the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC)
  5. Further, SIAC will establish a representative office at GIFT City to promote its international arbitration services to Indian users
  6. Indian parties are among the top five foreign users of SIAC in the last five years & India was the top foreign user of SIAC in 2013 and 2015

Pune makes it to Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities programme

  1. New York-based Rockefeller Foundation has included Pune it in its 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) programme
  2. Earlier: Pune was included in the first roster of the ‘Smart Cities’ project
  3. Pune’s inclusion will help enhance its ‘Smart City’ bid & will provide an international platform to exchange ideas and help to implement modern urban planning practices
  4. Pune, along with Jaipur, was included in the final tranche of 37 cities that were unravelled in Nairobi and includes rapidly growing megacities like Jakarta and Seoul

Lucknow, Warangal among 13 smart cities announced by govt

  1. Context: Centre announced the names of 13 more cities that will be developed under the Smart City Mission
  2. Cities: Lucknow in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh tops the list, followed by Warangal in Telangana and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh
  3. Chandigarh, Raipur (Chhattisgarh), New Town Kolkata, Bhagalpur (Bihar), Panaji (Goa), Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Imphal (Manipur), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Faridabad (Haryana)
  4. Selection process: These cities were chosen from the 23 that failed to get representation in the first round of a competition held in January, and participated in the fast-track competition

ADB offers loans for Smart City projects

  1. Context: The Asian Development Bank has agreed to extend a loan of $1 billion for the Smart City Projects
  2. The World Bank is also willing to give a loan of $0.5 billion
  3. Ratings: The cities should work toward achieving decent enough credit ratings from agencies approved by the SEBI
  4. Why? This is important for resource mobilisation and the creation of municipal- level bonds
  5. The process for the credit rating of 85 cities had already been initiated under AMRUT

Ensure project launch by June 25: Govt to first 20 smart cities

  1. News: Centre has asked the concerned states under the ‘Smart City Mission’ to ensure launch of their respective projects by June 25
  2. Govt. also urged the smart cities to ensure appointment of full-time CEOs for the SPVs
  3. Financing: The first batch of 20 selected smart cities have proposed a total investment of over Rs 48,000 crore over the next 4 years
  4. The central govt will provide an assistance of Rs 500 crore for each city and the respective states and urban local bodies will provide an equal amount

NITI Aayog to develop smart mobility planning kits

  1. Context: NITI Aayog has decided to come out with mobility planning tool kits to facilitate smart and sustainable urban transport solutions
  2. Need: Indian urban population expected to reach 600 million by 2030
  3. Kits will be developed with the help of experts, state governments and local urban body authorities
  4. Focus: Small (1 to 10 lakh) and medium (10 to 50 lakh) sized cities
  5. Benefits: Promote developing public transportation like city bus services and bus road transit (BRT)
  6. Also help make streets with provisions for people can walk, cycle and park

Germany focusses on 3 cities for Smart City project

  1. Context: India’s ambitious Smart Cities programme is receiving support from various countries
  2. News: Kochi, Bhubaneswar and Coimbatore would be the first three cities to receive Germany’s support under the Smart City project
  3. Reason: German companies have developed smart solutions to make smart cities
  4. Benefits: Germany has been involved in various fields related to Smart Cities such as sustainable urban mobility, water and waste-water management, renewable energies and energy efficiency

North East’s 1st Smart Village

  1. Context: Barsimaluguri, about 11 km from the Indo-Bhutan border, in Baksa district has been turned into a model smart village
  2. Geography: a remote nondescript, insurgency-ravaged village in Assam along Indo- Bhutan border
  3. Developments? 100% toilets, solar power and pure drinking water
  4. Initiative: by a few individuals under the aegis of Nanda Talukdar Foundation (NTF)
  5. 4 Main Verticals: alternative energy, drinking water, sanitation and skill development

Pact to develop Vizag as smart city

  1. Context: Pact between US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) & Andhra Pradesh Government
  2. Aim: To develop infrastructure, communications and data systems
  3. Smart city: Development is in line with its goal to become a Smart City
  4. Award: this cooperation is particularly timely as Vizag recently won 1st phase of Smart Cities Challenge by GoI
  5. Impact: Development and modernization efforts will be partially supported by the central government

U.K. firms keen to build hospitals in Smart Cities

Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu met a business delegation from the U.K. that advocated setting up hospitals in Indian smart cities

  1. Mr. Modi and Mr. Cameroon had agreed to support opening of 11 Indo-UK Institutes of Health in India with an investment of £1 billion
  2. Mr. Naidu also met delegation of U.S. businessmen and assured them that Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), one of the key administrative bodies for Smart Cities
  3. This would give ample powers to ensure timely execution of smart development projects
  4. The Smart Cities Trade Mission is keen to learn more about the market and new business opportunities
  5. By creating a forum to explore avenues for collaboration, the mission fosters commercial engagement between the 2 countries

Learn about HRIDAY scheme

With 32 UNESCO recognized natural and cultural heritage sites, ranking second in Asia and fifth in the world

  1. The National Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) aims to preserve and rejuvenate the rich cultural heritage of the country.
  2. Ministry: Urban Development
  3. It seeks to promote an integrated, inclusive and sustainable development of heritage sites
  4. This will focusing not just on maintenance of monuments but on advancement of the entire ecosystem including its citizens, tourists and local businesses
  5. The tourism potential of the country is still to be fully harnessed and this scheme will help in this regard
  6. The 12 cities selected for the scheme are Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Warangal, Puri, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Varanasi and Velankanni

Giving cities the smart edge

Make intelligent use of information technology to deliver better civic services.

  1. Rapid and poorly regulated urbanisation has overwhelmed urban governments, rendering them incapable of providing even basic services.
  2. Smart city is one that “enables a decent life to the citizens, and green and sustainable environment, besides enabling adoption of smart solutions”.
  3. Smart cities would create virtually new business districts in several cities, marking a departure from the disaggregated urban development witnessed in the past.
  4. This area-based development approach makes it imperative that the resulting demand for mobility to and from the ‘smart’ area be made an integral part of the plan.
  5. Emphasis should be on walkability, use of non-motorised transport and access to public transport.
  6. Care also needs to be taken that the effect is not to create gated communities of best practices.
  7. But ensuring that these urban enclaves cater to the housing, health, education and recreation needs of a wide cross section of society.

Centre hand-picks 20 smart cities for first phase of plan

Ministry to soon introduce credit rating to attract investors.

  1. The list of 20 cities that have qualified to build smart infrastructure with Rs. 200 crore each from the Central government’s first phase of funding.
  2. The Ministry has given top rating to Bhubaneswar for its robust Smart City plan.
  3. Mission promotes integrated city planning, where Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation complement each other.
  4. The Central government has created an outside agency named Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
  5. This will be headed by a CEO, and will be given powers to “execute” the proposed developments and projects.

What is Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation?

  1. AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
  2. AMRUT adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, transportation and development of green spaces.
  3. Under this mission, 10% of the budget allocation will be given to states and union territories as incentive based on the achievement of reforms during the previous year.
  4. AMRUT will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above.
  5. Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with >10 lakh population.

Biodiversity database for smart city initiative to be launched soon

A biodiversity database for urban India will be prepared for better species diversity management, dovetailed to the smart city initiative.

  1. The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, has made a proposal to its parent organisation, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which has given its consent.
  2. The core infrastructure of a smart city demands sustainable environment and health, and the portal will be helpful in this regard.
  3. The portal will help identify as to which species would be suitable for growing in a particular environment.
  4. To start with, the NBRI will upload the published database pertaining to the local biodiversity of each city, including the varieties of plants and trees that are endemic to it.

National Urban Information System (NUIS)

Within 1 year, after the completion of geospatial thematic database, NRSC has hosted the database on Bhuvan Geoportal and developed Bhuvan-NUIS application.

  1. NUIS is the project of Ministry of Urban Development with Survey of India as the focal point.
  2. At the behest of Ministry of Urban Development, National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO has prepared geospatial thematic database.
  3. For 152 towns on 1:10,000 scale and carried out Aerial survey of 132 towns at 1:2,000 scale for Survey of India.
  4. Under its Disaster Management Programme, ISRO has provided the flood inundation maps using satellite data extensively during the recent floods of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

Smart cities asked to provide for Piped Natural Gas supply and CNG stations

Govt. has asked the States and Urban Local Bodies(ULBs) to provide for PNG supply and CNG stations in the cities selected for development as Smart Cities.

  1. They were asked to ensure convergence of various schemes of the Central Govt aimed at enhancing energy supply.
  2. It urged the ULBs to ensure speedy approvals for laying City Gas Distribution(CGD) Pipelines in smart cities.
  3. It also asked them to ensure Roof Top based solar power generation as a part of measures to ensure that 10% of energy demand is met from solar power.
  4. They should make use of infrastructure being provided for enabling smart solutions for video-monitoring of crimes, effective management of water, power, traffic, solid waste etc.

Cities seek to address water logging problem under Atal Mission

Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Gujarat and Odisha take lead in constructing storm water drains

  1. 5 States to invest Rs.242 cr under Atal Mission action plans for 2015-16.
  2. With water logging in cities following rains being a recurrent problem, to address issue under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
  3. Construction of storm water drains prioritized after provision of basic infrastructure relating to water supply and sewerage connections.
  4. Central assistance to the extent of 50% of project costs, with a population of below 10 lakhs each and one-third of project cost if population is above 10 lakhs.

British financial aid to propel Pune’s ‘smart city’ dream

  1. David Cameron has announced British technical and financial aid to develop Pune, Amravati and Indore.
  2. U.K. would enter into a 5-year partnership to develop these cities.
  3. British companies with their world-class consulting, project management and engineering skills, will help plan, design and build these new cities.

Smart City: States keen on foreign expertise

  1. The officials of most of the 88 upcoming smart cities have expressed their wish to work with international consulting firms.
  2. The cities want to prepare robust development plan to win govt. funding.
  3. The plans shall contain area development action plans and financing plan for the complete life cycle of the proposal.
  4. These cities will compete with each other to secure a slot in top 20 positions that the govt. will finance for the coming financial year.

Smart City has to be compact: experts

  1. For the first time, Urban Development Ministry has organized the workshop on the Smart City Mission for mayors and commissioners.
  2. The govt. emphasized that urban renewal policies were designed to accommodate the urban poor.
  3. This is in contradiction to the model which largely relies on high property taxes and expensive public services.
  4. The cities have to be compact, spread on minimum of 500 acres with adequate water supply, assured electricity, sanitation and efficient urban mobility.
  5. To fill the financial gaps the government would have to increase taxes on property, entertainment, advertisements and parking lots.

Needed, smart solutions

  1. The corporate in the field of smart energy, surveillance, etc. have welcomed the clarity for industry players to engage with the cities administration.
  2. All the companies are looking to sell their high-tech products to the cities.
  3. But, govt. is yet to reveal what kind of technology it intends to procure and deploy.
  4. There is not much clarity on smart cities which seeks to integrate public transport, drinking water, solid waste mgmt., sanitation and sewerage which are similar in AMRUT.
  5. The smart cities in Europe and US are driven by IT, such as one massive control room would deliver public services.

Centre unveils list of 98 smart cities

  1. The largest share of developing 13 smart cities is with UP, followed by Tamil Nadu, which qualified to develop 12.
  2. The Smart City Mission promotes integrated city planning with an aim to achieve inclusive growth.
  3. The Ministry will impose fines on States that violate the timeline of 60 days of finalising the projects.
  4. The smart city mission will attract both national and international investors who are looking for opportunities.
  5. The mission will see govt. schemes re-enforcing each other, such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation.

Foreign investors express interest in Smart Cities project

  1. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) is anticipating private foreign investments worth at least Rs 4 lakh crore till 2020 in the 100 Smart Cities.
  2. This accounts for 80% of the estimated spending on the mission, with only the remaining 20% coming from the center and the states.
  3. Smart Cities initiative involves efficient provision of infrastructure and services, urban mobility and governance, mainly through use of digital technology.

Pact on smart cities likely during Modi’s visit to France

  1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get a first look at the future of his plan for “100 smart cities” during his visit to France.
  2. Puducherry and Chandigarh are top contenders.
  3. Main emphasis is on preserving traditional architecture in India while modernising connectivity, sewerage and other amenities.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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