[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
Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.
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