Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

An Overview of the Smart Cities Mission | Explained

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: Why is the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) considered exclusionary to many?

Why in the news? 

The Smart Cities Mission (SCM), a key initiative of the previous NDA-1 government, has received less emphasis in this year’s lineup of electoral pledges and accomplishments.

How are smart cities defined by the government? 

  • Since 2009, following the significant financial crash, the term ‘Smart City’ has gained widespread usage.
  • Urban practitioners have defined smart cities as innovative urban hubs akin to new Silicon Valleys, characterized by robust integration of transportation networks, including airports, highways, and various communication infrastructures, thereby fostering intellectual environments enhanced by advanced information and communication technologies (ICT).
  • The Smart Cities Mission is a key urban renewal and retrofitting program launched by the Government of India in 2015 to develop 100 cities across the country, making them citizen-friendly and sustainable.

The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) comprises two primary components:

  1. Area-Based Development:

This aspect focuses on three components:

  • Redevelopment (city renewal): Revitalizing existing urban areas to improve infrastructure, amenities, and quality of life.
  • Retrofitting (city improvement): Upgrading infrastructure and services in already developed areas to meet contemporary urban needs and standards.
  • Greenfield projects (city extension): Developing new urban areas or expanding existing cities with sustainable and modern infrastructure.
  1. Pan-City Solutions based on ICT:

This facet involves implementing integrated solutions across various sectors using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). These solutions typically fall under six categories:

  • E-governance: Utilizing digital platforms for efficient and transparent governance processes.
  • Waste management: Implementing systems for effective waste collection, segregation, and disposal.
  • Water management: Enhancing water supply infrastructure and promoting conservation measures.
  • Energy management: Implementing energy-efficient technologies and promoting renewable energy sources.
  • Urban mobility: Improving transportation systems to enhance connectivity and reduce congestion.
  • Skill development: Promoting programs to enhance the skills and employability of the urban workforce.

Why is the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) considered exclusionary to many?

  • Limited Geographical Scope: Only a small portion of a city’s area, often not more than 1%, was selected for development under the SCM. For example, in Chandigarh, the funds were concentrated in sector 43, focusing on projects like smart water meters and Wi-Fi zones, leaving other areas untouched.
  • Mismatch with Urban Realities: The competitive selection process did not account for the diverse and dynamic nature of urbanization in India. The approach was more suitable for static urban environments found in the West, not the evolving urban landscapes of Indian cities.
  • Displacement and Disruption: Implementation of smart city projects often led to the displacement of people living in poorer localities and street vendors.
  • Inadequate Funding: The total funding allocated for the SCM was significantly less than the estimated requirement for making Indian cities livable. Reports suggested a capital expenditure need of $1.2 trillion by 2030, while the SCM’s allocation was less than $20 billion over nine years.

Did the SCM override the 74th Constitutional Amendment?

  • Reduced Role of Elected Councils: The governance structure under the SCM limited the role of elected municipal councils.This was seen as bypassing the decentralized, participatory governance model envisaged by the 74th Constitutional Amendment, which aimed to empower local urban bodies.
  • Top-Down Approach: Critics argued that the SCM’s design was too top-down, not aligning with the bottom-up approach promoted by the 74th Constitutional Amendment.

Way forward:

  • Contextual Planning: Develop flexible and adaptive plans that consider the unique and dynamic nature of Indian urbanization, rather than applying a one-size-fits-all model.
  • Community Involvement: Engage local communities in the planning process to ensure that projects reflect the needs and realities of different urban areas.

Mains PYQ:

Q What are ‘Smart Cities’? examine their relevance for urban development in India. Will it increase rural-urban differences? Give arguments for ‘Smart Villages’ in the light of PURA and RURBAN Mission. (UPSC IAS/2016)

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Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Urbanization, no liberating force for Dalits

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: The reason behind the Urbanisation is not a liberating force for Dalits

Why in the News?

The Indian cities have failed with the aspirations and expectations of the Dalit liberation movement in urbanization.

View of Ambedkar and  Jyotirao Phule on Urbanisation:

  • Urbanization as an Opportunity for Dalit Liberation: Both Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule saw urbanization as an opportunity for Dalit liberation. They believed that the systems of caste oppression that were prevalent in Indian villages would weaken in cities.
  • City Life as Liberating and Liberal: Phule admired city life for its liberal atmosphere and the opportunity it provided him to earn a living. Similarly, Ambedkar saw cities as places where one could become anonymous, breaking free from the constraints of caste-based identities.
  • Transition from Caste to Class: Cities offered the potential for individuals to transition from a caste-based order to a class-based order. In cities, one’s status would be determined more by their accumulation of resources or capital rather than their caste background.

Why Urbanisation is not a liberating force for Dalits?

  • Extension of Caste in City: The logic of purity-pollution extends to the broader urban environment, where Dalits carry the stigma of their ghettoized identity into public spaces. This perpetuates the association of Dalit identity with impurity and reinforces caste-based discrimination.
  • Meat as impure by the State: Governments impose Brahminical regulations on public spaces, reinforcing the perception of meat as impure. For example, it includes Regulations on meat shops and bans on meat-based street food in certain areas, often justified by citing religious sentiments.
  • Secular and Religious Spaces: The state’s regulations to maintain purity in both secular and religious public spaces, even extending to what pedestrians can visually encounter.
  • Poor Sanitation: A large-scale study also found that public services and access to Municipal Infrastructure such as clean drinking water are the worst in Dalit and Muslim ghettos
  • Issue of Sacrifice Zone: Research in sacrifice zones regions marked for severe environmental pollution such as landfills shows that such areas are overwhelmingly inhabited by Dalits and Muslims.
  • Statistics: A recent report by the ‘Housing and Land Rights Network’ on forced evictions in India also shows that Dalits and Muslims are the most impacted by slum demolition drives.

Suggestive Measures:

  • Community Empowerment: Empower Dalit and Muslim communities through grassroots initiatives, community organizations, and advocacy groups.
  • Awareness and Sensitization: Conduct awareness campaigns and sensitization programs aimed at challenging caste-based stereotypes and prejudices in urban society.
  • Infrastructure Development: Prioritize investment in infrastructure development in Dalit and Muslim ghettos to improve access to basic amenities such as clean water, sanitation, healthcare, and education.

Conclusion: Urbanization hasn’t fulfilled Dalit liberation hopes. Ambedkar and Phule envisioned cities as liberating, but caste persists. Measures include community empowerment, awareness campaigns, and infrastructure development to combat discrimination and improve living conditions.

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Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

In news: Cantonment Boards

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cantonments, Cantonment Board

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Centre has reportedly initiated measures to reduce the land jurisdiction of 10 major cantonment boards across five states.
  • In May 2023, the Centre had kicked off a plan to abolish all 62 colonial-era Cantonments across the country.

What are Cantonments?

  • Cantonments are Permanent military stations where a group of military personnel are stationed for administrative purposes.
  • They are governed by the Cantonments Act, 2006, which provides for municipal administration and control of these areas.
  • India currently has 62 cantonments spread across various states, with some areas known for their better infrastructure and facilities compared to other parts of the country.
  • Cantonments are managed by Cantonment Boards, which are democratic bodies comprising elected and nominated members.
  • The Station Commander of the Cantonment serves as the ex-officio President of the Board.

Historical Background

  • The Cantonments Act, 1924, was enacted by the British to regulate the municipal administration of cantonments.
  • After India’s independence, the Cantonments Act was modified to suit the democratic setup of the country.
  • The current Cantonments Act, 2006, replaced the previous version, aiming to provide greater autonomy and accountability to the Cantonment Boards.

Categories of the erstwhile Cantonments

Cantonments are categorized based on the population size residing within them:

  1. Category I: Cantonments with a population of over 50,000.
  2. Category II: Cantonments with a population of 10,000 to 50,000.
  3. Category III: Cantonments with a population of less than 10,000.
  4. Category IV: Industrial or training Cantonments, irrespective of their population size.

Centre’s plan to re-regulate Cantonments

  • Conversion to Exclusive Military Stations: Under the plan, military areas within all cantonments will be carved out and designated as “exclusive military stations.” The Army will exercise “absolute control” over these areas, streamlining their administration and operations.
  • Merger with Local Municipalities: The civilian areas of cantonments will be integrated with the respective local municipalities. These municipalities will take up the responsibility of maintaining these areas, along with providing essential services and infrastructure.
  • Move Away from Traditional Cantonment Concept: Post-independence, the Indian Army moved away from the traditional cantonment concept, primarily due to friction between military and civilian authorities. However, certain major cantonments continued to exist, such as Pune Cantonment and Agra Cantonment.

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Nazool Land: Behind the Violence in Haldwani

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nazool Land, Laws governing it

Mains level: Issues with anti-encroachment drives

nazool

Introduction

  • Violence erupted in Uttarakhand’s Haldwani district after the administration conducted a demolition drive at the site allegedly on Nazool Land.

What is Nazool Land?

  • Definition: Nazool land refers to government-owned land that is often leased out to entities for specific purposes, rather than being directly administered as state property.
  • Lease Terms: Entities leasing Nazool land typically hold it for a fixed period, ranging from 15 to 99 years, with the option to renew the lease upon expiration.

Historical Context  

  • Origins: Nazool land emerged during British rule in India when lands confiscated from opposing kings and kingdoms were designated as state property.
  • Post-Independence: After Independence, these lands were transferred to the respective state governments due to a lack of proper documentation to prove prior ownership by the former royal families.

Governance of Nazool Land

  • Legal Framework: While various states have implemented government orders to regulate Nazool land, the Nazool Lands (Transfer) Rules, 1956, are frequently utilized for adjudication.
  • Lease Renewal Process: The renewal or cancellation of leases for Nazool land is typically managed by the Revenue Department of the local development authority.

Utilization of Nazool Land

  • Public Purposes: Nazool land is commonly used by the government for public infrastructure projects such as schools, hospitals, and Gram Panchayat buildings.
  • Housing Societies: In urban areas, Nazool land is often leased out for housing societies and other residential developments.

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Atal Setu is bad for Mumbai — its people and ecology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Na

Mains level: Rapid urbanization

Atal Setu news: You will not be allowed on Mumbai Trans Harbour Link if you  are on… | Mint

Central Idea:

The article discusses the recent inauguration of Mumbai’s Atal Setu, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, it critically analyzes this development within the context of outdated urban planning principles from the 1960s. The slow implementation of city plans is viewed positively, as it has preserved essential open spaces and ecological features crucial for climate mitigation and adaptation.

Key Highlights:

  • Inauguration of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge, Atal Setu, symbolizing development.
  • Critique of urban development rooted in 1960s planning ideologies.
  • Slow plan implementation seen as advantageous, preserving open spaces and ecological features.
  • Rapid infrastructure construction causing environmental problems and neglect of urban ecology.
  • Failure to account for the city’s dependence on ecology leading to air quality and water runoff issues.

Key Challenges:

  • Adherence to outdated planning ideologies despite advancements in urban ecology.
  • Rapid concretization and infrastructure projects causing environmental problems.
  • Lack of consideration for the city’s dependence on ecology in current infrastructure development.
  • Slow and contentious realization of development plans in Mumbai.
  • Air quality crisis and increased rainwater runoff due to insufficient planning for urban ecology.

Key Terms:

  • Urban ecology
  • Concretization
  • Infrastructure construction
  • Climate crisis
  • Development plans
  • Slow plan implementation
  • Open spaces
  • Wetlands
  • Rapid urbanization
  • Ecological context

Key Phrases:

  • “Dated and problematic mode of city-making.”
  • “Failures to account for the city and its citizens’ dependence on ecology.”
  • “Preservation of open spaces, wetlands, and gardens for climate mitigation.”
  • “Toxic air quality levels and increasing rainwater runoff as evidence of planning failures.”
  • “Reimagine infrastructure planning for the climate-changed city of the present and future.”

Key Quotes:

  • “Planners and engineers alike have simply not accounted for the fact that the city and all its citizens depend on an ecology to live.”
  • “Rather than rush to complete these outdated intentions of the past… this is a good time to reimagine infrastructure planning for the climate-changed city of the present and future.”

Key Statements:

  • The bridge and coastal road represent a dated mode of city-making from the 1960s.
  • Slow plan implementation has preserved open spaces and ecological features vital for climate mitigation.
  • Rapid concretization and infrastructure construction have led to environmental problems in the city.

Key Examples and References:

  • Inauguration of Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge, Atal Setu.
  • Mumbai CityLabs event on January 13 highlighting slow and contentious realization of development plans.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Completed 60 years after initial design, the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link bridge is portrayed as a symbol of development.
  • Preservation of open spaces, wetlands, and gardens due to slow plan implementation.

Critical Analysis:

The article criticizes the persistence of outdated planning ideologies, emphasizing the need for a shift towards contemporary urban ecology principles. It highlights the negative environmental impacts of rapid infrastructure construction and calls for a reimagining of infrastructure planning to address current and future climate challenges.

Way Forward:

  • Reimagine infrastructure planning in line with contemporary urban ecology principles.
  • Prioritize the preservation of open spaces, wetlands, and green areas for climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • Consider the urban social and ecological context of the 21st century in planning.
  • Learn from past failures and avoid rushing into completing outdated infrastructure projects.
  • Encourage sustainable and ecologically sensitive development in Mumbai.

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Breaking new ground the Kerala way

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: 74th Constitutional Amendment

Mains level: The Kerala Urban Commission

Kerala Cabinet decides to constitute Kerala Urban Policy Commission - The  Hindu

Central Idea:

  • The article discusses the formation of the Kerala Urban Commission in the context of global urbanization trends and the need for a comprehensive approach to urban development.
  • It highlights the challenges faced by urban areas in India and emphasizes the significance of revisiting and re-evaluating urban policies.

Key Highlights:

  • The article reflects on the historical development phases of urbanization in post-independent India, noting the failures of both Nehruvian centralized planning and the subsequent privatization trends in the 1990s.
  • It underscores the necessity of understanding objective patterns of urbanization, focusing on migration, settlement patterns, and the role of information technology.
  • Governance issues in cities, such as delayed transfer of subjects to municipalities and the debate on having managers instead of elected officials, are highlighted.
  • The article suggests that existing urban missions, like Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities, have failed to produce desired results and may continue to do so.

Key Challenges:

  • Piecemeal approaches to urban development are criticized for their failure to address the complex realities of urbanization.
  • Governance issues, including the delay in transferring subjects to municipalities and the debate on city affairs management, pose challenges to effective urban governance.
  • The article suggests that existing urban missions, like Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities, have failed to produce desired results and may continue to do so.

Key Terms:

  • Urban Commission: Refers to the proposed or existing bodies tasked with addressing the challenges and complexities of urban development.
  • Urbanization: The process of population migration from rural to urban areas, leading to the growth and development of cities.
  • Nehruvian Period: Refers to the development era influenced by Jawaharlal Nehru’s centralized planning approach.
  • Privatization: The transfer of control or ownership of public services or assets to private entities.
  • Fifteenth Finance Commission: A reference to the commission responsible for recommending the distribution of financial resources between the central and state governments.

Key Phrases:

  • “Holistic city approach”: Refers to a comprehensive and integrated strategy for urban development.
  • “Engines of growth”: Describes the shift in cities’ perception from spaces of enlightenment to centers focused on economic development.
  • “Mission mode of development”: Refers to project-oriented approaches like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and Smart Cities Mission.
  • “Complex processes unfolding”: Highlights the intricate nature of governance and financial structures in urban areas.

Key Quotes:

  • “Cities were made competitive and termed as ‘engines of growth’ — not spaces of enlightenment, future of dreams, and habitat.”
  • “The urbanisation process cannot be reduced to some mission approaches…”
  • “Kerala Urban Commission can be the lighthouse for other States…”

Key Statements:

  • “An urban commission is required at the national and State levels to understand some of the interesting objective patterns of urbanisation.”
  • “The period of the 1990s is the one where the abject privatization of cities began…”

Cabinet clears formation of urban commission- The New Indian Express

Key Examples and References:

  • Mention of the National Commission on Urbanisation formed by Rajiv Gandhi and its recommendations.
  • Reference to global urbanization trends, including the impact on climate change and unequal city spaces.
  • Examples of failed urban missions like Swachh Bharat and Smart Cities.

Key Facts:

  • More than half of the world’s population (56%) currently lives in cities.
  • Kerala’s urbanized population is estimated to be around 90%.
  • The Nehruvian period witnessed the construction of around 150 new towns with a centralized planning approach.

Key Data:

  • The 74th Constitutional Amendment marked a shift towards more private initiative and investment in urban development.
  • The Kerala Urban Commission has a 12-month mandate to address urbanization challenges and lay a roadmap for 25 years of urban development.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article critically examines the historical phases of urban development in India and highlights the shortcomings of past approaches.
  • It questions the effectiveness of existing urban missions and emphasizes the need for a holistic understanding of urbanization processes.
  • Governance issues and financial centralization are critically discussed as impediments to successful urban development.

Way Forward:

  • The article suggests that the formation of the Kerala Urban Commission could serve as a model for other highly urbanized states.
  • It advocates for a comprehensive and objective approach to urban development, emphasizing the importance of addressing challenges such as migration, settlement patterns, and information technology.
  • The need for revisiting and relooking at urban policies is underscored for a more successful and sustainable urban future.

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India’s Transition in Slum Definitions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Slums rehabilitation in India

slum

Central Idea

  • Research Citation: Nipesh Narayanan’s research, published in the Economic & Political Weekly on October 21, 2023, delves into the changing conceptualization of slums in Indian parliamentary debates from 1953 to 2014.
  • Policy on Slums: These shifting narratives have significantly influenced government policies and approaches towards slums.

Evolution of Discourses on Slums

  • Parliamentary Debates Analysis: Narayanan analyzed 1,228 debates in the Rajya Sabha and various policy documents, including Five-Year Plans, to trace the evolution of discourses surrounding slums.
  • Dynamic Definitions: The study highlights the fluid nature of slum definitions and the tendency to overlook urban disparity as a causal factor in slum formation.

Eras of Changing Perspectives

  1. 1950s-1960s: Initially, slums were seen as a by-product of partition and rapid urbanization. The focus was on eradication due to health concerns and spatial constraints, side-lining socio-economic factors like migration. The Slum Areas Act of 1956 marked a significant shift, allowing government intervention in slum areas.
  2. Early 1970s-Mid-1980s: The narrative shifted to viewing slums as necessary evils requiring development rather than eradication. Town planning emerged as a key tool, pushing slums to city peripheries and prioritizing basic amenities over demolition.
  3. Mid-1980s-Late 1990s: With the National Commission on Urbanisation’s report in 1985, cities and slums began to be seen as economic assets. This era saw a focus on housing policies and infrastructure development, with economic reasoning driving interventions.
  4. 2000s-2014: The 2001 Census provided comprehensive data on slums, leading to targeted schemes. Slums transitioned from social concerns to technical, economic objects. The focus was on upgradation strategies, legal rights, and property rights for slum dwellers.

Slum Formation and Government Response

  • Causality and Complexity: The research identifies urban planning issues, population growth, land pressure, and housing affordability as key factors in slum formation.
  • Government Role: The Union government’s role shifted to funding State governments for urban improvement, with a focus on data-driven policies.

Technocratic Solutions and Challenges

  • Technological Reliance: The increasing dependence on technological solutions for urban issues is evident in current government policies.
  • Critical Examination: The article warns against using slums merely as a tool for anti-poverty policies and emphasizes understanding slum formation beyond numerical data.

Conclusion

  • Historical Insights: Narayanan’s analysis provides valuable insights into the historical shifts in government perceptions and actions towards slums.
  • Significance for Urban Studies: This research contributes significantly to the understanding of urban dynamics, socio-economic inequalities, and the complexities of slum life in India.

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[pib] AAINA Dashboard for Cities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AAINA Dashboard

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has introduced the ‘AAINA Dashboard for Cities’ portal (aaina.gov.in).

About AAINA Dashboard

  • The AAINA Dashboard is envisioned as a permanent platform for ULB-related data, with regular updates.
  • It invites Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) across India to voluntarily share their key data regularly through a user-friendly data entry form on the portal.
  • The primary objectives of the AAINA Dashboard are:
  1. City Benchmarking: Enable cities to assess their performance relative to other cities.
  2. Inspiration: Inspire cities by identifying areas for improvement and showcasing possibilities.
  3. Peer Learning: Promote peer learning and engagement among cities.

Dashboard Structure

The AAINA Dashboard will categorize data submitted by ULBs into five key pillars:

  1. Political & Administrative Structure
  2. Finance
  3. Planning
  4. Citizen-Centric Governance
  5. Delivery of Basic Services

Data Submission Process

  • ULBs will contribute their data, including audited accounts and self-reported performance metrics, by logging into the dashboard’s portal.
  • ULBs will have the flexibility to update their information as needed, ensuring that the dashboard remains a dynamic and up-to-date resource.https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1976720

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Amplifi 2.0 Portal for Data-Driven Urban Policymaking  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Amplifi 2.0 Portal

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in India has taken a significant step towards fostering data-driven policymaking by launching the Amplifi 2.0 portal.

Amplifi 2.0 Portal

  • Amplifi 2.0 stands for Assessment and Monitoring Platform for Liveable, Inclusive, and Future-Ready Urban India portal.
  • It was introduced by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • This platform aims to provide easy access to raw data from Indian cities, facilitating researchers, academics, and stakeholders in their efforts to formulate informed urban policies.
  • Currently, 258 urban local bodies have been onboarded, and data for 150 cities is accessible on the platform.
  • Objectives:
  1. To make data from all 3,739 municipal corporations accessible through the portal.
  2. Offer a wide range of data, including total consumption, water quality testing, healthcare expenditure, slum population statistics, and road accident fatalities.

Significance

  • Previously, the Ministry used data provided by civic bodies to rank cities based on four indices.
  • These indices encompassed ease-of-living, municipal performance, climate smart cities assessment, and data maturity assessment.
  • The government plans to release various reports based on subsets of these four indices, shifting towards a more data-centric approach.

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Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS): Connecting Cities at High Speed

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

Mains level: Read the attached story

rrts

Central Idea

  • PM Modi is set to inaugurate the first segment of India’s groundbreaking Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS), a high-speed rail network aimed at enhancing regional connectivity.

Understanding the RRTS Project

  • Integrated Mass Transit Network: The RRTS is an integrated mass transit network aimed at promoting balanced and sustainable urban development by enhancing connectivity and accessibility across the NCR.
  • Origin of the Idea: The concept of RRTS emerged from a study commissioned to Indian Railways in 1998-99, envisioning fast commuter trains connecting various NCR locations.
  • National Capital Region Planning: The National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) adopted the RRTS concept while developing its “Functional Plan on Transport for NCR-2032” and recommended eight RRTS corridors to connect NCR towns.

Development Agency

  • Nodal Agency: NCRTC, a joint venture of the Central government, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, is responsible for building the RRTS, also known as “Namo Bharat.” It operates under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • Scope of the Project: The RRTS project spans across the vast NCR, covering approximately 55,000 square kilometers and serving a population of over 46 crore with a combined GDP of an estimated $370 billion.

How RRTS differ from existing Systems?

  • Impressive Speed: RRTS trains are designed to operate at speeds of 160 km/hour, with the capability to reach a maximum speed of 180 km/hour.
  • Comparatively faster: In comparison, Delhi Metro trains typically operate at speeds of 100 km/hour to 120 km/hour.
  • Coverage: Compared to existing metro systems, the RRTS offers higher speeds, making it ideal for covering relatively longer distances across the NCR swiftly.
  • Frequency and Comfort: In contrast to Indian Railways, while RRTS covers shorter distances, it operates at higher frequencies and provides enhanced passenger comfort.
  • International Models: The RRTS draws inspiration from successful international models like the RER in Paris, Regional-Express trains in Germany and Austria, and the SEPTA Regional Rail in the United States, among others.

Objectives of the RRTS Project

  • Enhancing Connectivity: The RRTS aims to unlock the NCR’s potential by improving multi-modal connectivity at existing transportation hubs.
  • Decongesting Roads and Rails: One of the primary goals is to encourage public transportation, thus alleviating congestion on roads, highways, metro, and railway networks.
  • Economic Growth: By facilitating shorter travel times, the RRTS seeks to boost economic productivity in the region, allowing more economic activity to thrive around suburban locations in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana.

Corridors under the RRTS Project

  • Eight Corridors: The RRTS project encompasses eight corridors, with three being developed under Phase I:
    1. Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut (82 km)
    2. Delhi-Gurugram-SNB-Alwar (164 km)
    3. Delhi-Panipat (103 km)
  • Future Development: Future corridors include routes like Delhi – Faridabad – Ballabgarh – Palwal, Ghaziabad – Khurja, Delhi – Bahadurgarh – Rohtak, Ghaziabad-Hapur, and Delhi-Shahadra-Baraut.
  • Sarai Kale Khan Hub: The RRTS station at Sarai Kale Khan will serve as the project’s central hub, connecting all three Phase I corridors, bridging the gap between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Rajasthan.

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YashoBhoomi: India’s Premier Convention and Expo Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: YashoBhoomi

Mains level: Not Much

YashoBhoomi

Central Idea

  • PM inaugurated the first phase of the world-class ‘YashoBhoomi’ India International Convention and Expo Centre (IICC) in Dwarka, Delhi.

About YashoBhoomi

  • YashoBhoomi is the second convention facility to offer top-notch amenities for exhibitions and conferences, following the Bharat Mandapam, which hosted world leaders during the recent G20 Summit.
  • It represents PM’s vision to create world-class infrastructure in India for hosting conventions, meetings, and exhibitions, greatly benefiting from its operational status in Dwarka.

Key Features of YashoBhoomi

  • Expansive Project: Also known as the India International Convention and Expo Centre, YashoBhoomi spans an impressive 8.9 lakh square meters, with a built-up area exceeding 1.8 lakh square meters.
  • Capacity and Facilities: This conference center boasts a remarkable capacity of accommodating 11,000 guests. It comprises 15 convention rooms, including the main auditorium, the grand ballroom, and 13 meeting rooms.
  • Auditorium and Ballroom: The main auditorium can seat 6,000 people, while the grand ballroom can accommodate an additional 2,500. There is also seating for up to 500 people in a large open space.
  • Exhibition Hall: A massive exhibition hall, spanning over 1.07 lakh square meters, is a prominent feature of YashoBhoomi.
  • Metro Connectivity: On the same day as the inauguration of the new metro station in Dwarka Sector 25, YashoBhoomi will be connected to the Delhi Airport Metro Express line.
  • Architectural Splendor: The conference center incorporates elements inspired by Indian civilizations, including terrazzo floors with brass inlays resembling rangoli patterns, suspended sound-absorbing metal cylinders, and illuminated pattern walls.
  • Sustainability Focus: YashoBhoomi is committed to sustainability, featuring rooftop solar panels, a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system enabling 100% wastewater reuse, rainwater harvesting, and Green Cities Platinum certification from CII’s Indian Green Building Council (IGBC).

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Nation First Transit Card for digital fare payments

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Nation First Transit Card

Mains level: Not Much

nation first transit card

Central Idea

  • State Bank of India (SBI) unveiled the ‘Nation First Transit Card’ for seamless and convenient digital fare payments.
  • The card is designed to enhance the commuting experience by facilitating digital ticketing across various modes of transport and parking, all within one card.

Nation First Transit Card

  • Aims to streamline customer commuting and digital fare payments for metro, buses, water ferries, and parking through a single card.
  • Provides versatility by enabling retail and e-commerce payments.
  • Powered by RuPay and National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) technology.

Key Facts about the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC)

  • Launched on March 4, 2019.
  • Enables SBI customers to use their Debit Cards as travel cards for metro rail and buses in enabled locations.
  • The concept originated from the Nandan Nilekani committee, established by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
  • An initiative by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in India, promoting cashless transactions and a unified payment platform for commuters.
  • Offers a unified contactless transport solution via the RuPay platform, developed by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI).
  • Functions as an automatic fare collection system, transforming smartphones into interoperable transport cards for metro, bus, and suburban railway services.

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Role of Urban Form in Heat Resilience

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Urban Form

Mains level: Urban Heating

urban form

Central Idea

  • A study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2022 examines the relationship between diverse urban forms and their reactions to heat, offering insights that could guide India’s urban centers in combatting heat-related challenges.

Distinct Urban Forms and Heat Resilience

  • Crucial Consideration: Urban form encompasses a city’s unique blend of natural and built components, shaping its activities and infrastructure.
  • Diverse Parameters: Urban form’s defining elements include urban morphology, aspect ratio, sky view factor (SVF), blue/green infrastructure (B/GI), floor space index (FSI), and street orientation.
  • Localized Study: CSE’s ongoing study focuses on 10 cities, such as Pune, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Jaipur, each revealing trends that could inform heat mitigation strategies.

Unveiling Key Parameters and Findings

  • Urban Morphology: Varied urban morphologies, from open highrise to compact midrise, demonstrate lower land surface temperatures (LST) among heat pockets. Lowrise areas exhibit higher LST due to sparse vegetation and heat-trapping roofing materials, suggesting the potential for improvement.
  • Aspect Ratio: The ratio of building height to street width impacts heat retention. Higher aspect ratios correlate with lower LST, indicating the significance of narrower streets for reduced heat gain.
  • Sky View Factor: The visibility of sky between buildings influences heat dissipation. Elevated sky view factors increase LST by up to 10°C, highlighting the role of factors like road intersections and open parking lots.
  • Blue/Green Infrastructure: Vegetation significantly impacts microclimates. Effective vegetation cover (EVC), with a focus on trees, grass, and shrubs, can reduce LST by 2-4°C, demonstrating the need to prioritize tree-heavy greens.

Policy Implications for Enhanced Heat Resilience

  • FSI and Urban Cooling: Higher floor space index (FSI) inversely correlates with LST, suggesting that denser urban configurations can alleviate heat.
  • Street Orientation: The orientation of streets affects sun exposure and wind, leading to differences in thermal comfort. North-south streets expose higher LST due to east-west sun exposure.
  • Contextual Cooling Solutions: Urban form-based codes can offer targeted cooling solutions. Diverse zones with customized regulations—shaded walkways, cool roofs, or high EVC—can cater to varied needs.

Way Forward

  • Incorporating Learning: Urban planning must integrate findings from the study into building by-laws and master plans. Pune’s experience showcases the impact of SVF, aspect ratio, EVC, and urban morphology on heat gain.
  • Adaptation for Other Cities: Each city may face distinct drivers influencing heat resilience, necessitating customized solutions and urban planning modifications.
  • Economic Benefits: A 1°C temperature reduction corresponds to a 2% drop in the city’s power consumption, highlighting the financial advantages of heat mitigation strategies.

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Excision and Merger of Civil Areas in Cantonments

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cantonments

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has put forward a proposal to excise civil areas in 58 cantonments across the country, intending to merge them with State municipalities.
  • Earlier in May, the centre kicked off a plan to abolish the 62 cantonments around the country as “archaic colonial legacies”.

What are Cantonments?

  • Definition: Cantonments are permanent military stations where a group of military personnel are stationed for administrative purposes. They are governed by the Cantonments Act, 2006, which provides for municipal administration and control of these areas.
  • Number and Locations: India currently has 62 cantonments spread across various states, with some areas known for their better infrastructure and facilities compared to other parts of the country.
  • Cantonment Boards: Cantonments are managed by Cantonment Boards, which are democratic bodies comprising elected and nominated members. The Station Commander of the Cantonment serves as the ex-officio President of the Board.

Historical Background

  • The Cantonments Act, 1924, was enacted by the British to regulate the municipal administration of cantonments.
  • After India’s independence, the Cantonments Act was modified to suit the democratic setup of the country.
  • The current Cantonments Act, 2006, replaced the previous version, aiming to provide greater autonomy and accountability to the Cantonment Boards.

Categories of the erstwhile Cantonments

Cantonments are categorized based on the population size residing within them:

  1. Category I: Cantonments with a population of over 50,000.
  2. Category II: Cantonments with a population of 10,000 to 50,000.
  3. Category III: Cantonments with a population of less than 10,000.
  4. Category IV: Industrial or training Cantonments, irrespective of their population size.

Broader plan

  • Conversion to Exclusive Military Stations: Under the plan, military areas within all cantonments will be carved out and designated as “exclusive military stations.” The Army will exercise “absolute control” over these areas, streamlining their administration and operations.
  • Merger with Local Municipalities: The civilian areas of cantonments will be integrated with the respective local municipalities. These municipalities will take up the responsibility of maintaining these areas, along with providing essential services and infrastructure.
  • Move Away from Traditional Cantonment Concept: Post-independence, the Indian Army moved away from the traditional cantonment concept, primarily due to friction between military and civilian authorities. However, certain major cantonments continued to exist, such as Pune Cantonment and Agra Cantonment.

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City Investments to Innovate, Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS) Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CITIIS 2.0, Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: Not Much

cities city

Central Idea

  • The Union government has approved the second phase of the City Investments to Innovate, Integrate, and Sustain (CITIIS) project.

What is CITIIS 2.0?

  • It is a part of the Smart Cities Mission and aims to promote integrated waste management and climate-oriented reform actions.
  • The project will be implemented in 18 cities selected through a competition process.
  • The project will span over a period of four years, from 2023 to 2027.

Objectives of the project

  • CITIIS 2.0 supports competitively selected projects focusing on circular economy and integrated waste management at the city level.
  • It also emphasizes climate-oriented reform actions at the State level and aims to strengthen institutions and disseminate knowledge at the national level.

Implementation Partners

  • The project is implemented in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD), Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KfW), the European Union (EU), and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA).

Components

The project consists of three major components:

  1. Financial and technical support for developing climate-resilient projects in up to 18 smart cities.
  2. Interventions at the center, state, and city levels to enhance climate governance.
  3. Promotion of climate adaptation and mitigation measures.

Back2Basics: Smart Cities Mission

  • The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry that was launched in 2015.
  • Cities across the country were asked to submit proposals for projects to improve municipal services and to make their jurisdictions more liveable.
  • Between January 2016 and June 2018 (when the last city, Shillong, was chosen), the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission over five rounds.
  • The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city, but in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was earlier the deadline for Shillong alone.
  • With an increase on urban population and rapid expansion of areas, government is looking at smarter ways to manage complexities, increase efficiencies and improve quality of life.
  • The mission will cover 100 cities that have been distributed among the States /Union Territories (UT) on the basis of an equitable criteria.
  • The formula gives equal weightage (50:50) to urban population of the State/UT and the number of statutory towns in the State/UT.

 

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73% projects completed under Smart Cities Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: Urban transformation initiatives

Smart Cities Mission

Central Idea

  • The Union Urban Affairs Ministry announced that significant progress has been made under the Smart Cities Mission, with more than 90% of the allocated funds being utilized and 73% of the projects already completed.

Why discuss this?

  • The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city.
  • However, in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was earlier the deadline for Shillong alone.

What is Smart Cities Mission?

  • The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry that was launched by PM on June 25, 2015.
  • Cities across the country were asked to submit proposals for projects to improve municipal services and to make their jurisdictions more liveable.
  • Between January 2016 and June 2018 (when the last city, Shillong, was chosen), the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission over five rounds.

How does it work?

  • Each smart city has created a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) responsible for planning, appraising, approving, releasing funds, implementing, and managing, operating, monitoring, and evaluating development projects.
  • The SPV is led by a full-time CEO and includes nominees from the Central and State governments, as well as the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) on its Board.

Monitoring and Reporting

  • The implementation of the SCM is overseen by an Apex Committee, led by the Secretary of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
  • The committee utilizes the Real Time Geographical Management Information System (GMIS) to provide regular reports on project progress.

Features of the mission

  • Smart Infrastructure: Upgrading urban systems, including transportation, water, and waste management.
  • E-Governance: Digital platforms for transparent government services and citizen engagement.
  • Smart Solutions: Integration of IoT and data analytics to optimize urban systems.
  • Sustainability: Green initiatives, renewable energy, and eco-friendly practices.
  • Social and Economic Development: Affordable housing, healthcare, and fostering entrepreneurship.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Utilizing data for evidence-based planning and resource allocation.

Progress status

(1) Funds Utilization

  • As of May 1, a total of ₹38,400 crore was released for the Smart Cities Mission.
  • Out of this amount, ₹35,261 crore has already been utilized for various projects.
  • The utilization of funds accounts for over 90% of the allocated budget.

(2) Project Completion

  • The Smart Cities Mission encompasses approximately 7,800 projects, valued at ₹1.8 lakh crore.
  • Among these projects, more than 5,700, valued at ₹1.1 lakh crore, have been completed.
  • The remaining projects are expected to be completed by June 30, 2024.
  • Currently, only 22 out of the 100 designated cities have successfully concluded all projects under the mission.

Conclusion

  • By emphasizing effective funds utilization and project completion, the government intends to transform cities into smarter, more sustainable, and citizen-centric urban spaces.

 

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[pib] Meri LiFE Mera Swachh Shehar Campaign launched

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Meri LiFE Mera Swachh Shehar

Mains level: LiFE Initiative

life

Central Idea: The Union Ministry for Housing and Urban Affairs has launched the ‘Meri LiFE, Mera Swachh Shehar’ campaign.

Meri LiFE Mera Swachh Shehar

  • The campaign focuses on waste management and promotes the principles of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (RRR).
  • It aims to create awareness and encourage individuals to adopt sustainable daily habits for environmental protection.
  • The campaign strengthens citizens’ commitment to reducing, reusing, and recycling under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban 2.0.
  • It aligns with Mission LiFE’s objective of adopting sustainable daily habits for environmental conservation.

Objectives of the Campaign

  • The campaign involves setting up RRR Centres where citizens can contribute items such as clothes, shoes, books, toys, and plastic for reuse or recycling.
  • The collected items will be refurbished or transformed into new products, aligning with the vision of a circular economy.
  • The RRR approach empowers craftsmen, recyclers, Self Help Groups, entrepreneurs, and startups to convert waste into various products.

Key initiatives: RRR Centres and Circular Economy

  • The RRR Centres to be launched nationwide will serve as one-stop collection centers for various unused or used items.
  • Citizens, institutions, and commercial enterprises can deposit plastic items, clothes, shoes, books, and toys at these centers.
  • The collected items will be refurbished for reuse or transformed into new products, promoting the government’s vision of a circular economy.

Back2Basics: Lifestyle for the Environment (LiFE)

  • The LiFE movement was introduced by India during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in 2021.
  • It aims to promote an environmentally conscious lifestyle that emphasizes mindful and deliberate utilization rather than mindless and wasteful consumption.
  • The movement seeks to replace the prevailing “use-and-dispose” economy with a circular economy characterized by conscious and deliberate consumption.
  • The objective of the LiFE Movement is to leverage the power of social networks to influence social norms related to climate change.
  • It plans to create and nurture a global network of individuals known as ‘Pro-Planet People’ (P3) who are committed to adopting and promoting environmentally friendly lifestyles.
  • Through the P3 community, the mission aims to establish an ecosystem that supports and sustains environmentally friendly behaviours.

 

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Aspirational Cities Programme (ACP): A Step in the Right Direction

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Maharashtra's Aspirational Cities Programme

Mains level: Urbanization challenges and measures

ACP

Central Idea

  • Maharashtra’s Aspirational Cities Programme (ACP) aims to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation by adopting a holistic approach to urban governance. The ACP is set to focus on improved governance, address persistent civic issues, and increase funding avenues for the urban local bodies. The success of the ACP could have a significant impact on Maharashtra’s economy and lead to ease of living in urban areas.

Urban population of India

  • According to the Census of India 2011, the urban population of India was 377 million, which accounted for 31.16% of the total population. Around 590 million people would live in the cities by 2030.
  • While cities constitute about 3 per cent of the land in the country, they generate 70 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and contribute substantially to economic growth and opportunities.
  • There is a robust relationship between the index of cities’ liveability and the country’s GDP per capita suggesting that long-term growth is only feasible if the city attributes in terms of providing equitable access to basic services, residences, and improved economic management are woven seamlessly through digital service delivery platforms.

Challenges of urbanization in Maharashtra

  • Deficient Infrastructure: Maharashtra’s cities are grappling with issues of deficient infrastructure, such as inadequate roads, public transport, water supply, and waste management systems.
  • Air Pollution: Urbanization has led to an increase in air pollution in Maharashtra’s cities, primarily due to vehicular emissions and industrial activities.
  • Social Inequities: The growth of informal settlements and slums in Maharashtra’s cities has led to social inequities, with the urban poor lacking access to basic services, such as healthcare, education, and housing.
  • Mobility and Migration: Maharashtra’s cities continue to face the challenge of frequent mobility and migration, with an inward net movement of people for better livelihood opportunities.
  • Vulnerabilities to Disasters and Climate Change: Rapid urbanization has increased the vulnerability of Maharashtra’s cities to disasters and climate change, such as floods and heatwaves.
  • Poor Urban Planning: Many of the challenges faced by Maharashtra’s cities are a result of poor urban planning, with a lack of coordination between various government departments and inadequate implementation of policies and programmes.

What is Aspirational Cities Programme (ACP)?

  • The Aspirational Cities Programme (ACP) is an initiative of the Government of Maharashtra aimed at addressing the challenges of rapid urbanization in the state by adopting a holistic approach to urban governance.
  • The ACP has identified 57 cities that have been proposed for the programme. Service level benchmarking will be done for the cities based on the data collected on the Performance Assessment System of the Government of Maharashtra.
  • The performance of the 57 selected cities would be monitored and ranked quarterly through a standard digital monitoring platform with indicators on the themes of urban infrastructure, education, urban services, skill development, and climate change.
  • The ACP is based on three priority areas: inclusive urban development, scientific data methods for assessing and monitoring outcomes, and citizen participation in civic affairs.

ACP

The Maharashtra government’s Aspirational Cities Programme (ACP) focuses on three priority areas

  1. Inclusive Urban Development: The ACP aims to bring an integrated approach to urban programming that involves all development sectors. This is aimed at ensuring that the benefits of urban development reach all sections of society, including the most vulnerable.
  2. Scientific Data Methods: The ACP seeks to adopt scientific data methods for assessing and monitoring the outcomes of both state and central schemes. This will provide a better understanding of the impact of various policies and programmes on the ground.
  3. Citizen Participation: The ACP aims to enhance the voice and participation of citizens in civic affairs through physical and digital means. This is aimed at ensuring that governance is citizen-centric and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people.

Other key features of Maharashtra’s ACP

  • Improved Governance: The ACP is set to focus on improved governance, address persistent civic issues, and increase funding avenues for the urban local bodies. This is aimed at ensuring that the governance of cities is efficient, transparent, and accountable.
  • Service Level Benchmarking: Service level benchmarking will be done for the cities based on the data collected on the Performance Assessment System of the Government of Maharashtra. This will enable the state government to monitor and rank the performance of the 57 selected cities quarterly through a standard digital monitoring platform.
  • Provision of Adequate Potable Tap Water: The ACP agenda includes provisioning adequate potable tap water to all households by taking advantage of the ambitious Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • Reformed Property Tax: The ACP aims to reform property tax by delinking it from the reasonable rental value method and adopting the market value of the property as a base for assessment.

Facts for prelims

What is Urban 20 (U20)?

  • Within the G20 ecosystem, a city diplomacy initiative called the Urban 20 (U20) was launched in December 2017.
  • As one of the formal Engagement Groups under G20, the U20 forum was meant to collectively raise critical urban issues of G20 cities during the G20 negotiations.
  • Despite U20’s concerted efforts to run parallel to G20, the absence of any written constitution, procedures, or formal agreement has made U20 unable to effectively address the aspirations and concerns of cities.

Conclusion

  • It is time to accept the reality that New India is moving from its villages to the cities, and therefore, the need for renewed thinking and policies that are citizen-centric. The ACP is an example of a policy that puts people first as part of urban development. This effort by the Government of Maharashtra is strategically contextualised with the Viksit Bharat vision for India in 2047.

Mains Question

Q. New India is moving from its villages to the cities which highlights the need for renewed thinking and policies that are citizen-centric. In light of this discuss how Maharashtra’s Aspirational Cities Programme (ACP) could help to address the challenges of urbanization

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All Cantonments to be disbanded: Centre

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Cantonments

Mains level: ULBs in India

cantonment

Central Idea: The Union government has kicked off a plan to abolish the 62 cantonments around the country as “archaic colonial legacies”. The first cantonment to be renamed a military station is Yol in Himachal Pradesh.

What is the plan?

  • The plan is to carve out the military areas in all cantonments and convert them into “exclusive military stations” with the Army exercising “absolute control” over them.
  • The civilian areas, in turn, will be merged with the local municipalities, which will be responsible for their maintenance among other things.
  • The Army moved away from the concept of cantonments after independence, mainly due to the friction between military and civilian authorities.
  • But some major cantonments continued to exist. Ex. Pune Cantonment, Agra Cantonment etc.

What are Cantonments?

  • Cantonments in India are permanent military stations where a group of military personnel are stationed for administrative purposes.
  • These cantonments are governed by the Cantonments Act, 2006 which provides for municipal administration and control of these areas.
  • There are 62 cantonments in India which are located in various states across the country.
  • These areas are maintained by the Defence Estates Organization (DEO) under the Ministry of Defence, and are distinct from military bases or barracks which are temporary locations for military personnel.
  • Cantonments are generally considered to be areas with better infrastructure and facilities compared to other parts of the country.

Their features

  • Cantonment Boards are democratic bodies comprising elected and nominated members.
  • In terms of Entry 3 of the Union List (Schedule VII) of the Constitution of India, Urban Self Governance of the Cantonments and the Housing Accommodation therein is the subject matter of the Union.
  • The Station Commander of the Cantonment is the ex-officio President of the Board, and an officer of the IDES or Defence Estates Organisation is the Chief Executive Officer who is also the Member-Secretary of the Board.
  • They have equal representation of elected and nominated/ex-officio members to balance official representation with democratic composition.
  • They maintain ecological balance while providing better civic facilities to the residents.

History of establishments

  • The Cantonments Act, 1924 was enacted by the British to regulate the municipal administration of Cantonments.
  • After India’s independence, the Cantonments Act, 1924, was modified to suit the democratic setup of the country.
  • The Cantonments Act, 2006, replaced the Cantonments Act, 1924, and aims to provide greater autonomy and accountability to the Cantonment Boards.

Categories

There are four categories of Cantonments, depending on the size of the population residing inside a Cantonment:

  1. Category I: Cantonments having a population of more than 50,000.
  2. Category II: Cantonments having a population of 10,000 to 50,000.
  3. Category III: Cantonments having a population of less than 10,000.
  4. Category IV: Industrial or training Cantonments, irrespective of their population size.

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Smart Cities Mission: With 2023 deadline looming, a status check

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: Not Much

smart-cities

Central idea: The Govt asks 20 worst-performing cities to improve as June 2023 Smart Cities Mission deadline nears.

What is the Smart Cities Mission?

smart cities

  • The Smart Cities Mission is an initiative of the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry that was launched by PM on June 25, 2015.
  • Cities across the country were asked to submit proposals for projects to improve municipal services and to make their jurisdictions more liveable.
  • Between January 2016 and June 2018 (when the last city, Shillong, was chosen), the Ministry selected 100 cities for the Mission over five rounds.

Deadline of the project

  • The projects were supposed to be completed within five years of the selection of the city.
  • However, in 2021 the Ministry changed the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was earlier the deadline for Shillong alone.

What kinds of projects were proposed?

  • Project proposals ranged from making certain stretches of roads more accessible and pedestrian-friendly to more capital-intensive ones like laying water pipelines and constructing sewage treatment plants.
  • All 100 cities have constructed Integrated Command and Control Centres.
  • These centres monitor all security, emergency and civic services.
  • During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of these centres were converted into emergency response units by the cities.

What is the status of the projects?

  • As of March 3, 100 cities have issued work orders for 7,799 projects worth Rs 1.80 lakh crore.
  • Out of these, 5,399 projects worth Rs.1.02 lakh crore have been completed, and the rest are ongoing.
  • Only around 20 cities are likely to meet the June deadline. The rest will need more time.
  • Shillong has completed just one of its 18 proposed projects.

 

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City Finance Rankings, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: City Finance Ranking

Mains level: Not Much

The Centre launched City Finance Rankings 2022 and City Beauty Competition aimed at incentivising urban local bodies for improving cities’ public infrastructure and strengthening them on basis of key financial parameters.

What is City Finance Rankings?

  • It aims to evaluate, recognise, and reward urban local bodies on the basis of their strength across key financial parameters.
  • City Finance Rankings aim to motivate city and state officials and decision makers, to implement municipal finance reforms.
  • The participating urban local bodies will be evaluated on 15 indicators across three key municipal finance assessment parameters like resource mobilisation, expenditure performance, and fiscal governance.
  • The cities will be ranked at the national level on the basis of their scores under any one of the following four population categories:
  1. Above 40 lakh
  2. Between 10-40 lakh
  3. 1 lakh to 10 lakh and
  4. Less than one lakh
  • The top three cities in each population category will be recognised and rewarded at the national level as well as within each state and state cluster

About City Beauty Competition

  • Wards and public places of cities would be judged against the five broad pillars (i) accessibility (ii) amenities (iii) activities (iv) aesthetics and (v) ecology.
  • It would felicitate most beautiful wards and beautiful public places at the city level.
  • It aims to encourage and recognise the transformational efforts made by cities and wards in India to create beautiful, innovative and inclusive public spaces

 

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Urban planning can change the future of cities to happy cities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Urbanization issues

Urban planningContext

  • In the recent few years, the growth of the economy and urbanization have accelerated. Rapid unplanned urbanization has put extreme pressure on natural resources.
  • Unplanned urbanization, however, exerts great strain on our cities. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the dire need for the planning and management of our cities.

What does urban planning mean?

  • Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks and their accessibility.

What are ‘Happy Cities’?

  • A term that follows the Green City, Sustainable City, Liveable City, in the lingo of urban planning

What is a smart city?

  • A smart city is one that uses information and communication technologies to enhance citizen engagement. It is a neo-vision which seeks to improve the delivery of services in urban areas. The following story maps out the steps being taken by India to explore this concept in practice.

What is the Smart Cities Mission?

  • Sustainable cities: The Smart Cities Mission aims at developing 100 cities, which were shortlisted, into self-sustainable urban settlements.
  • Chronology: The mission was launched on June 25, 2015 and was projected as one aimed at transforming the process of urban development in the country.
  • Comprehensive revamp: Among its strategic components is ‘area-based development’, which includes city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (Greenfield development), plus a pan-city initiative in which ‘smart solutions’ are applied covering larger parts of the city.

Fast Facts – Urbanization in India

  • Most Urbanized States: Tamil Nadu 43.9%; Maharashtra 4%; Gujarat  37.4%
  • 3 out of world’s 21 mega cities: Mumbai (19 mill); Delhi (15 mill); Kolkata (14 mill)

Urban planningUrban planning challenges

Planning

  • Many urban governments lack a modern planning framework
  • The multiplicity of local bodies obstructs efficient planning and land use
  • Rigid master plans and restrictive zoning regulations limit the land available for building, constricting cities’ abilities to grow in accordance with changing needs.

Housing

  • Building regulations that limit urban density – such as floor space indexes – reduce the number of houses available, thereby pushing up property prices
  • Outdated rent control regulations reduce the number of houses available on rent – a critical option for the poor
  • Policy, planning, and regulation deficiencies lead to a proliferation of slums

Service delivery

  • There is a strong bias towards adding physical infrastructure rather than providing financially and environmentally sustainable services

Infrastructure

  • Most urban bodies do not generate the revenues needed to renew infrastructure, nor do they have the creditworthiness to access capital markets for funds
  • Urban transport planning needs to be more holistic – there is a focus on moving vehicles rather than meeting the needs of the large numbers of people who walk or ride bicycles in India’s towns and cities.

Environment:

  • The deteriorating urban environment is taking a toll on people’s health and productivity and diminishing their quality of life.

Urban planningSolution offered by NITI ayog committee report on urban planning

  • Demystifying Planning and Involving Citizens: While it is important to maintain the master plans’ technical rigour, it is equally important to demystify them for enabling citizens’ participation at relevant stages. Therefore, the committee strongly recommends a ‘Citizen Outreach Campaign’ for demystifying urban planning.
  • Steps for Enhancing the Role of Private Sector: The report recommends that concerted measures must be taken at multiple levels to strengthen the role of the private sector to improve the overall planning capacity in the country.
  • Revision of Town and Country Planning Acts: Most States have enacted the Town and Country Planning acts, that enable them to prepare and notify master plans for implementation. However, many need to be reviewed and upgraded.
  • Revision of Town and Country Planning Acts: Most States have enacted the Town and Country Planning Acts, that enable them to prepare and notify master plans for implementation. However, many need to be reviewed and upgraded.

Interesting fact

India is home to 11% of the total global urban population.

Government initiatives

  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT);
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) – Housing for all (Urban),
  • Smart Cities Mission (SCM),
  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM),
  • Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY);
  • Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM).

Conclusion

  • What is now increasingly understood, is that urban planning and design can be a powerful contributor to the happiness of citizens. The structure and layout of our streets, the availability of green spaces, the possibility of using urban spaces freely, the inclusion of beauty in public space.
  • It is safe to assume that when there are avenues for a community to come together in a pleasant environment, which is accessible to everyone, it can only increase well-being.

Mains question

Q. Can urban planning and design change Indian cities to be happy cities? Express your views by addressing the roadblocks in the same.

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Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Why our urban centres need to be better planned

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: smart city mission

Mains level: urban planning

urban centres Context

  • Indian urban centres need to plan for migration, climate change. Healthcare, affordable housing, sustainability and inclusion hold the key reimagining them.

What does urban planning mean?

  • Urban planning encompasses the preparation of plans for and the regulation and management of towns, cities, and metropolitan regions. It attempts to organize socio-spatial relations across different scales of government and governance.

What are ‘Happy Cities’?

  • A term that follows the Green City, Sustainable City, Liveable City, in the lingo of urban planning

urban centres What is a smart city?

  • A smart city is one that uses information and communication technologies to enhance citizen engagement. It is a neo-vision which seeks to improve the delivery of services in urban areas. The following story maps out the steps being taken by India to explore this concept in practice.

Fast Facts -Urbanization in India

Most Urbanized States: Tamil Nadu 43.9%; Maharashtra 4%; Gujarat  37.4%.

3 out of world’s 21 mega cities: Mumbai (19 mill); Delhi (15 mill); Kolkata (14 mill)

Global best practices in urban planning

  • The Garden City movement: In the West, the Garden City movement (initiated by Ebenezer Howard in 1898) sought to decentralise the working environment in the city centre with a push for providing healthier living spaces for factory workers. The ideal garden city was planned on a concentric pattern with open spaces, public parks and boulevards, housing 32,000 people on 6,000 acres, linked to a central city with over 50,000 people. Once a garden city reached maximum capacity, another city would be developed nearby.
  • Neighbourhood concept: In the US, the garden city movement evolved into the neighbourhood concept, where residential houses and streets were organised around a local school or community centre, with a push for lowering traffic and providing safe roads. London has a metropolitan green belt around the city, covering 5,13,860 hectares of land, to offset pollution and congestion and maintain biodiversity. Why can’t Indian cities have something similar, instead of ring roads and urban sprawls?
  • La ville du quart d’heure: Paris has taken this forward with the “15-minute city” (‘la ville du quart d’heure’). The idea is rather simple, every Parisian should be able to do their shopping, work, and recreational activities and fulfil their cultural needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride this means that the number of vehicular trips gets reduced significantly.
  • Investment in pedestrian infrastructure and non-motorised transport zones: A city would then be planned for pedestrians, instead of cars and motors. This requires an extensive usage of mixed-use developments, along with investment in pedestrian infrastructure and non-motorised transport zones. Instead of widening highways, this approach would push for widening pedestrian walkways.

urban centres

What should be adopted for India?

  • Every Indian city should ideally have a Master Plan: A strategic urban planning document which would be updated every decade or two. The document would entail how a city is supposed to grow, vertically and horizontally, across zones, while offering a high quality of life in a sustainable manner. Such plans would also consider poverty mitigation, affordable housing and liveability for urban migrants.
  • Urban land use needs to be better: One look at satellite map imagery will show that India’s urban growth is increasingly haphazard, with informal, unplanned and sprawling neighbourhoods developing in paddy fields and along linear infrastructure (arterial roads, open spaces). India’s hidden urbanisation, driven partly by our stringent definition of the word, along with weak enforcement of building codes, has meant that the local government is often playing catch-up, unable to provide urban services and infrastructure to keep up with growth.
  • Public land availability: Meanwhile, in places where there are formally recognised towns and urban neighbourhoods, outdated planning practices have meant that land utilisation is poor. Consider the case of Mumbai, where almost 1/4th of the land is open public space while over half of it is the underutilised space around buildings, which is enclosed by walls and hived off from public access. Such open spaces, if available, would help cities like Mumbai achieve similar ratios as globally benchmarked cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona) in public land availability (typically above 40 per cent).
  • India’s urban density will also need to be thought through: Dense construction on the peripheries of our major cities (for instance, dense construction in Delhi’s suburbs, like Noida and Gurugram) will inevitably mean that public services are stretched and emissions (due to transportation to the main city) remain high. Such urbanisation will unavoidably lock India into a high emissions future while making our cities prone to extreme heat and flooding.
  • Then there is climate change: According to the World Bank, climate change may reduce India’s GDP by 3 per cent, while depressing the living standards of its citizens by 2050. Many urban experts cite technological solutions that may save our cities a chain of sea walls, river embankments and reclamations, for instance from such potential calamities. However, structural engineering simply may not be an economically and environmentally feasible option everywhere instead, our focus must be on conservation.
  • Climate resilience perspective Bengaluru, with its network of interconnected lakes, could have considered Bangkok-style ferries instead of draining out its lakes. All ongoing and upcoming urban infrastructure projects must be reconsidered from a future climate resilience perspective does the ongoing sea reclamation for the upcoming coastal road in Mumbai make sense if sea levels are rising?
  • Establishing a sense of cityhood: By making a push for a city as a co-created space will also require building up institutional capacity.
  • Addressing lack of town planning education: India would ideally require 3,00,000 town and country planners by 2031 (there are just 5,000 town planners currently). Much of this problem is fundamentally due to a lack of town planning education in the country there are just 26 institutes that provide this course, producing 700 town planners each year. We already have a shortage of 1.1 million planners. More schools are needed, with a push for local IITs and NITs to have a standalone planning department. With over 8,000 towns and cities, there is a clear unmet need.

urban centresConclusion

  • Our policymakers also need to be cognisant of the historical context of our urban development a push for glass buildings or utilising granite may not always be suitable for our cities. Why can’t our cities look distinctly Indian, inspired by our historical architecture? Renewing our cities will require us to rethink various urban topics, including urban design, urban healthcare, affordable housing, sustainability and inclusion among others. Our urban future depends on getting this right.

Mains question 

Q. Renewing our cities will require us to rethink various urban topics, including urban design, urban healthcare, affordable housing, sustainability and inclusion among others. Elaborate.

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Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

What is the Dharavi Redevelopment Project?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dharavi

Mains level: Slum rehabilitation

The Maharashtra government gave the go-ahead for fresh tenders in the Dharavi redevelopment project, almost two decades after it was first proposed.

About Dharavi

  • Dharavi, infamous as one of the world’s largest slums, is located in the heart of India’s financial capital – Mumbai.
  • A city within a city, it is one unending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts.
  • While the land (area of 535 acres) is owned by the government, the houses are maintained by individuals.
  • The Dharavi slum came into being in 1884. It was originally inhibited by fisherfolk when the area was still creeks, swamps.
  • It became attractive to migrant workers from South Mumbai and others when the swamp began to fill in due to natural and artificial causes.
  • The area grew as poor rural Indians migrated to urban Mumbai.
  • Today, an estimated 600,000 to 1 million people live crammed in Dharavi.

Economic significance of Dharavi

  • Dharavi stands near to India’s richest business district, the Bandra-Kurla Complex, where commercial office premiums are among the highest in the country.
  • The slum sprawl, spread over 2.8 sq.km. is home to an informal leather and pottery industry which employs over a lakh people.

What is the Dharavi Redevelopment Project all about?

  • The state had envisaged this sprawl be transformed into a cluster of high-rises with improved urban infrastructure.
  • It entailed resettling 68,000 people, including slum dwellers and those with commercial establishments.
  • The state was to provide 300-sqft houses for free to residents with proof that their slum structure was in existence before January 1, 2000.
  • The project was initially mooted in 2004, but never got off the ground due to various reasons.

When redevelopment was first proposed?

  • In 1999, the government first proposed to redevelop Dharavi.
  • Thereafter, the government of Maharashtra in the year 2003-04 decided to redevelop Dharavi as an integrated planned township.
  • An action plan for redevelopment was approved by issuing a government resolution.
  • It was decided to develop Dharavi by using land as a resource to cross-subsidie the cost of development through a sale component on the basis of the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme.
  • The government also decided to notify the whole of Dharavi as an undeveloped area and to appoint a Special Planning Authority for its development.
  • In 2011, the government cancelled all tenders and drew up a master plan.

 

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The road to productivity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Labour productivity and roads

Context

The commute time for the labour force to the workplace plays a very important role in determining their productivity in cities.

Issue of long travel time to work

  • Labour market: Cities are labour markets where the labour force exchanges their labour and creates knowledge spillovers.
  • Relation between commute time and productivity: The commute time for the labour force to the workplace plays a very important role in determining their productivity in cities.
  •  The longer the commute time in a city, the smaller is its effective labour market and vice-versa.
  • Difference between nominal and effective labour market: While the nominal labour market of the city refers to all jobs created in the metropolitan area, the effective labour market refers to the jobs accessible within a certain commute.
  • Importance of effective labour market: The larger a city’s effective labour market, the greater its agglomeration economies and knowledge spillovers will be.
  • From the viewpoint of enlarging a city’s effective labour market and economic output, it is therefore very important to keep the commute time short and commuting cost cheap within a city as it keeps growing in population.

Way forward

  • One way in which urban local bodies (ULBs) directly impact the city’s economic output is through their infrastructure.
  • Increase in tax base: Road length has a positive effect on the city’s tax base.
  • Motivation to pay texes: This is because roads lead to easy access to jobs and increased economic activity; that also gives the public more confidence and motivation to pay taxes.
  • Cities should not view investment in road networks as expenditure; rather, roads add to the city’s revenue base which the city can use to improve infrastructure and public services.

Conclusion

Investing in roads not only reduces travel time and enlarges effective labour markets of cities and their economic output, but also improves access to schooling for children as well as healthcare, thereby upgrading human development. This is indeed the road to the $5 trillion economy along with improvement in human well-being.

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Understanding the Olga Tellis Judgment

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Encroachment of Public Spaces

A 37-year-old Constitution Bench judgment of the Supreme Court which held that pavement dwellers are different from trespassers. This may become a game-changer in the Jahangirpuri case.

What is the Olga Tellis judgment?

  • The judgment, Olga Tellis vs. Bombay Municipal Corporation, was given in 1985 by a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Y.V. Chandrachud (F/O Justice D.Y Chandrachud).
  • It is agreed that pavement dwellers do occupy public spaces in an unauthorized manner.

Key takeaways of the Judgment

  • Opportunity to depart: The court maintained they should be given a chance to be heard and a reasonable opportunity to depart before force is used to expel them.
  • No use of force: The Supreme Court reasoned that eviction using unreasonable force, without giving them a chance to explain is unconstitutional.
  • Right to life: Pavement dwellers, too, have a right to life and dignity. The right to life included the right to livelihood. They earn a meagre livelihood by living and working on the footpaths.
  • No misuse of powers of eviction: A welfare state and its authorities should not use its powers of eviction as a means to deprive pavement dwellers of their livelihood.

What led to the judgment?

  • Sometime in 1981, the State of Maharashtra and the Bombay Municipal Corporation decided that pavement and slum dwellers in Bombay city should be evicted and “deported to their respective places of origin or places outside the city of Bombay.”
  • Some demolitions were carried out before the case was brought to the Bombay High Court by pavement dwellers, residents of slums across the city, NGOs and journalists.
  • While they conceded that they did not have “any fundamental right to put up huts on pavements or public roads”, the case came up before the Supreme Court on larger questions of law.

What were the questions discussed before the Supreme Court?

  • One of the main questions was whether eviction of a pavement dweller would amount to depriving him/her of their livelihood guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • The Article mandates that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty EXCEPT according to procedure established by law.”
  • The Constitution Bench was also asked to determine if provisions in the Bombay Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, allowing the removal of encroachments without prior notice, were arbitrary and unreasonable.
  • The Supreme Court also decided to examine the question whether it was constitutionally impermissible to characterise pavement dwellers as trespassers.

What was the State government’s defence?

  • The State government and the corporation countered that pavement dwellers should be estopped (estoppel is a judicial device whereby a court may prevent or “estop” a person from making assertions.
  • Estoppel may prevent someone from bringing a particular claim from contending that the shacks constructed by them on the pavements cannot be demolished because of their right to livelihood.
  • They cannot claim any fundamental right to encroach and put up huts on pavements or public roads over which the public has a ‘right of way.’

How did the Supreme Court rule?

  • The Bench threw out the government’s argument of estoppel, saying “there can be no estoppel against the Constitution.”
  • The court held that the right to life of pavement dwellers were at stake here.
  • The right to livelihood was an “integral component” of the right to life. They can come to court to assert their right.
  • If the right to livelihood is not treated as a part of the constitutional right to live, the easiest way of depriving a person of his right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood to the point of abrogation.
  • Any aggrieved person can challenge the deprivation as offending the right to life.
  • Removal of encroachments without prior notice was arbitrary; the court held that such powers are designed to operate as an “exception” and not the “general rule.
  • The procedure of eviction should lean in favour of procedural safeguards which follow the natural principles of justice like giving the other side an opportunity to be heard.
  • Finally, the court emphatically objected to authorities treating pavement dwellers as mere trespassers.
  • The encroachment committed are involuntary acts in the sense that those acts are compelled by inevitable circumstances and are not guided by choice.

Way ahead

  • It is not a free choice to exercise as to whether to commit an encroachment and if so, where.
  • Trespassers should not be evicted by using force greater than what is reasonable and appropriate.
  • He/she should be asked and given a reasonable opportunity to depart before force is used to expel him.

 

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Explained: Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Smart City Mission

Mains level: Significance of Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs)

The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister has announced that 80 Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs), an integral component of the Smart Cities Mission, have already been set up.

What is the Smart Cities Mission?

  • The Smart Cities Mission aims at developing 100 cities, which were shortlisted, into self-sustainable urban settlements.
  • The mission was launched on June 25, 2015 and was projected as one aimed at transforming the process of urban development in the country.
  • Among its strategic components is ‘area-based development’, which includes city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) and city extension (greenfield development), plus a pan-city initiative in which ‘smart solutions’ are applied covering larger parts of the city.

Focus areas

  • Key focus areas of the scheme include the construction of walkways, pedestrian crossings, cycling tracks, efficient waste-management systems, integrated traffic management and assessment.
  • The scheme also assesses various indices to track urban development such as the Ease of Living Index, Municipal Performance Index, City GDP framework, Climate-Smart Cities assessment framework, etc.

What is an Integrated Command and Control Centre?

  • The Smart Cities Mission includes setting up ICCCs for each such city as a vital step.
  • These ICCCs are designed to enable authorities to monitor the status of various amenities in real time.
  • Initially aimed at controlling and monitoring water and power supply, sanitation, traffic movement, integrated building management, city connectivity and Internet infrastructure, these centres have since evolved to monitor various other parameters.
  • The ICCCs are now also linked to the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems) network under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The ICCC acts of a smart city acts as a “nerve centre” for operations management. It processes a complex and large pool of data sets at an aggregated level.
  • It is the nodal point of availability of all online data and information relating to smart services included in a smart city, such as like LED street lighting, CCTV surveillance cameras, air quality sensors, etc.

How did the ICCCs help in management of Covid-19?

  • During the pandemic, they also served as war-rooms for Covid-19 management.
  • During the peak of the first wave, when countries were struggling to figure out ways of combating the virus, the government used the ICCCs as war-rooms for managing the outbreak, with real-time surveillance and monitoring of districts across the country.
  • Converted into war-rooms, the smart cities’ ICCCs used the central data dashboard and provided information about the status of Covid-positive cases in various administrative zones of these cities, officials aware of the exercise said.
  • The war-rooms were also used for tracking people under quarantine and suspected Covid-19 cases.

What is the current status of the Smarts Cities Mission?

  • The ambitious project, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, had an initial deadline of 2021 for the first lot of 20 smart cities out of the 100 selected.
  • Although the project was announced in 2015, the cities were selected over a period of two years between 2016 and 2018, each with a deadline of completion within five years from the time of their selection.
  • On the recommendation of NITI Aayog, the timeline was extended last year until 2023 due to delays caused by the pandemic.
  • According to current Ministry data, the SCM has so far covered over 140 public-private partnerships), 340 ‘smart roads’, 78 ‘vibrant public places’, 118 ‘smart water’ projects and over 63 solar projects.

What next?

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has begun work to finalise its recommendation for providing ICCCs as a service to states and smaller cities.
  • The Ministry aims to finalise an ICCC model and implement a pilot project across six major states — Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

 

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[pib] 6 years of Urban Transformation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various schemes mentioned

Mains level: Urban transformation

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) has commemorated 6 years of the three transformative Urban Missions vis. Smart Cities Mission (SCM), Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U). All these missions were inaugurated in 2015.

[A] Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY)

  • PMAY is an initiative in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor with a target of building 2 crore (20 million) affordable houses by 31 March 2022.
  • It has two components: for the urban poor and also for the rural poor.
  • This scheme is converged with other schemes to ensure houses have a toilet, Saubhagya Yojana electricity connection, Ujjwala Yojana LPG connection, access to drinking water, and Jan Dhan banking facilities, etc.

[B] Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation (AMRUT)

  • AMRUT was launched with the focus to establish an infrastructure that could ensure adequate robust sewage networks and water supply for urban transformation by implementing urban revival projects.
  • The components of the AMRUT consist of capacity building, reform implementation, water supply, sewerage and septage management, stormwater drainage, urban transport, and the development of green spaces and parks.
  • During the process of planning, the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) will strive to include some smart features in the physical infrastructure components.
  • Rajasthan was the first state in the country to submit State Annual Action Plan under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).

[C] Smart Cities Mission

  • National Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with the mission to develop smart cities across the country, making them citizen-friendly and sustainable.
  • The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.
  • All the participating cities from West Bengal have withdrawn from the Smart Cities Mission.
  • Mumbai and Navi Mumbai from Maharashtra have also been withdrawn from the Smart Cities Mission.

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Delhi’s Master Plan 2041

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Master Plan 2041 for Delhi

The Delhi Development Authority gave its preliminary approval to the draft Master Plan for Delhi 2041.

What is the Master Plan 2041 for Delhi?

  • The draft of the Master Plan seeks to “foster a sustainable, liveable and vibrant Delhi by 2041”.
  • It includes analysis, recommendations, and proposals keeping in mind the population, economy, housing, transportation, community facilities, and land use.
  • The current master plan of Delhi — Master Plan 2021 — expires this year.
  • The first volume is an introduction, providing an overview of Delhi in present times, its global and regional positioning, estimates of population, and projections for 2041.
  • The draft MPD presents a plan for the city for the next 20 years.

What are the main focus areas of the master plan?

  • In the housing sector, it talks about incentivizing rented accommodation by inviting private players and government agencies to invest more, keeping in mind the large migrant population.
  • It addresses parking problems and suggests a ‘user pays principle, which means users of all personal motor vehicles, except for non-motorized ones, have to pay for authorized parking facilities, spaces and streets.

How does the master plan tackle environmental pollution?

  • The draft plan aims to minimize vehicular pollution through key strategies, including a switch to greener fuels for public transport and the adoption of mixed-use of transit-oriented development (also known as TOD).
  • It also addresses improving the quality of water, which is taken from the Yamuna river as well as various lakes, natural drains and baolis.
  • The draft lays a clear boundary of the buffer zone near the Yamuna river and explores how to develop it.
  • As per the plan, a green buffer of 300-metre width shall be maintained wherever feasible along the entire edge of the river.

How is it different from the 2021 Master Plan?

  • The world has gone through a drastic change due to the pandemic, and the growing population has led to shrinking spaces and unemployment.
  • The 2041 plan aims to develop common community spaces to provide refuge spots, common kitchens and quarantine space in an emergency.
  • To improve the nighttime economy, the plan focuses on cultural festivals, bus entertainment, metro, sports facilities, and retail stores included in Delhi Development Authority (DDA)’s Night Life Circuit plan.
  • It also proposes to reduce vulnerability to airborne epidemics through decentralized workspaces, mandatory creation of open areas, better habitat design and green-rated developments to reduce dependence on mechanical ventilation systems.

What challenges will its implementation face?

  • The master plan on paper looks like a perfect document for the city’s progress.
  • However, when the implementing agencies try to replicate it on the ground, they face challenges like confrontation from political wings, lack of resources and funds, corruption in different departments, lack of political and bureaucratic will and multiplicity of agencies.
  • For instance, despite talks of increasing surface parking, removing junk vehicles, imposing fines for dumping debris, garbage burning, and segregation of waste, a lot of these things could never be implemented.
  • In some cases like, increasing parking or increasing its charges, there is resistance from politicians due to vote-bank politics. In other cases, lack of funds and improper implementation mar the projects.

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Cost and complications of transplanting a tree

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Tree transplantation and its feasibility

The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) wants to transplant over 1,800 trees which are inside what used to be the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) complex, as part of the Central Vista redevelopment project.

Transplantation of trees

  • The transplantation of trees is a complex and delicate process whose outcome cannot be predicted.
  • A tree cannot be transplanted by simply uprooting it and placing it in a pit dug elsewhere. The process involves multiple steps and requires significant expertise.

How it is done?

  • First, the soil around the tree is dug up to isolate the roots. The big branches are lopped off, leaving only small shoots for regeneration. This is done to make transportation of the tree to the new location easier.
  • The root system is covered with wet gunny bags to protect the roots and to keep the tree hydrated.
  • The tree has to be first sent to a nursery to acclimatize to a new kind of soil, and to regenerate.
  • Once new shoots start sprouting, the tree is lowered into a pit created in its new spot.

What factors determine the success of a transplant?

  • Even after all steps are meticulously followed, a lot depends on luck. The survival rate of a transplanted tree is about 50%.
  • Not all trees can be transplanted. While peepal, ficus, semal and sheesham are tolerant to transplantation, trees such as dak, palash, arjun, shahtoot and jhilmil are not.

(1) Roots

  • Any tree that has a tap root system cannot be transplanted, as the root goes deep into the soil, and it is not possible to isolate it without damage.

(2) Size

  • Transplanting any tree with a trunk girth of more than 80-90 cm is not advisable as the tree cannot bear the shock, and will eventually die.

(3) Age

  • That effectively means that big, old trees cannot, in most cases, be removed to another location.

(4) Soil

  • It is important to consider soil type before transplantation.
  • A tree growing on, say, the Delhi Ridge will not easily acclimatize to the soil in the Yamuna floodplain, as the two ecosystems are entirely different.

How expensive is transplantation?

  • The cost of transplanting an average-sized tree might come to around Rs 1 lakh, which included post-transplantation care.
  • For larger trees, the cost could go up to Rs 3 lakh.
  • Private and voluntary organizations, however, claim that the cost is between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 per tree.

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[pib] Ease of Living Index (EOLI) 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: EOLI, MPI

Mains level: Not Much

The Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has announced the release of the final rankings of the Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020 and the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020.

For any such index, always note the verticals i.e. the various parameters.

Ease of Living Index (EoLI)

  • It is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development.
  • It provides a comprehensive understanding of participating cities across India based on the quality of life, the economic ability of a city, and its sustainability and resilience.
  • It examines the outcomes that lead to existing living conditions through pillars of Quality of Life, Economic Ability, Sustainability.

Municipal Performance Index (MPI)

  • It was launched as an accompaniment to the Ease of Living Index.
  • The five verticals under MPI are Services, Finance, Policy, Technology and Governance.
  • The Ease of Living Index encapsulates the outcome indicators while the Municipal Performance Index captures the enabling input parameters.

Performance of cities

  • Bengaluru emerged as the top performer in the Million+ categories, followed by Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Coimbatore, Vadodara, Indore, and Greater Mumbai.
  • In the Less than Million category, Shimla was ranked the highest in ease of living, followed by Bhubaneshwar, Silvassa, Kakinada, Salem, Vellore, Gandhinagar, Gurugram, Davangere, and Tiruchirappalli.

Why need such indices?

  • The EoLI primarily seeks to accelerate India’s urban development outcomes, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The findings from the index can help guide evidence-based policymaking.
  • It also promotes healthy competition among cities, encouraging them to learn from their peers and advance their development trajectory.

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[pib] City Innovation Exchange (CiX)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: City Innovation Exchange (CiX) 

Mains level: Urban transformation initiatives

The City Innovation Exchange (CiX) platform was launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

City Innovation Exchange (CiX)

  • The CiX will connect cities to innovators across the national ecosystem to design innovative solutions for their pressing challenges.
  • The platform will ease the discovery, design & validation of solutions through a robust, transparent and user-centric process that will reduce barriers for innovators and cities to discover fitting solutions.
  • Built on the concept of ‘open innovation’, the platform will help in the flow of ideas ‘outside in and inside out, enhancing the skills and capacity required to deliver smart urban governance.
  • Through interaction with Academia and Businesses/Startups, the platform will benefit cities in the transfer of ideas from ‘labs’ to the real environment.
  • Similarly, by helping urban governments interact with citizens, the platform will ensure the adoption of tested solutions that will be impactful and sustainable.

Benefits of CiX

  • The CiX platform will be a significant addition to the growing innovation ecosystem of India and focuses on fostering innovative practices in cities.
  • CiX, through an ‘open innovation’ process, engages with innovators to design-test-deliver on solutions to pressing urban challenges.
  • This initiative is among the ongoing efforts to realize PM’s vision of New and AtmaNirbhar Bharat, by making cities more self-reliant and enabled to meet the needs of and provide services to their citizens.
  • The platform in due time will help our cities in adopting solutions that will enhance the quality of life for their residents and significantly improve the Ease of Doing Business.

Try this PYQ:

Q.The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1992, which aims at promoting the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the country, provides for which of the following?

  1. Constitution of District Planning Committees.
  2. State Election Commissions to conduct all panchayat elections.
  3. Establishment of State Finance Commissions.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) Only 1

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

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Jal Jeevan Mission (Urban) to revive urban water bodies

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Jal Jeevan Mission

Mains level: Drinking water scarcity in Urban India

The urban water supply mission under the Jal Jeevan Mission announced in the Budget would include rejuvenation of water bodies as well as 20% of supply from reused water.

Access to safe drinking water has been a grave problem for India, especially in rural areas where lack of usable water has resulted in decades-old sanitation and health problems.

Jal Jeevan Mission

  • Jal Jeevan Mission, a central government initiative under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, aims to ensure access of piped water for every household in India.
  • The mission’s goal is to provide to all households in rural India safe and adequate water through individual household tap connections by 2024.
  • The Har Ghar Nal Se Jal programme was announced by FM in Budget 2019-20 speech.
  • This programme forms a crucial part of the Jal Jeevan Mission.
  • The programme aims to implement source sustainability measures as mandatory elements, such as recharge and reuse through greywater management, water conservation, and rainwater harvesting.

Urban component of the mission

  • The mission is meant to create a people’s movement for water, making it everyone’s priority.
  • There are an estimated gap of 2.68 crore urban household tap connections that the Mission would seek to bridge in all 4,378 statutory towns.
  • The Mission would also aim to bridge the gap of 2.64 crore sewer connections in the 500 cities under the existing Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
  • The mission would include rejuvenation of water bodies to boost the sustainable freshwater supply and the creation of green spaces.

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[pib] Rajasthan becomes the 5th State to complete ULB reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ULBs in India

Mains level: ULB reforms

Rajasthan has become the 5thState in the country to successfully undertake Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance and has thus become eligible for additional reform linked to borrowing.

Which are the four other States?

: They are Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur and Telangana, who have completed ULB reforms.

Now try this PYQ:

Q.The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1992, which aims at promoting the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the country, provides for which of the following?

  1. Constitution of District Planning Committees.
  2. State Election Commissions to conduct all panchayat elections.
  3. Establishment of State Finance Commissions.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) Only 1

(b) 1 and 2 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

What are the ULB reforms?

The four citizen-centric areas identified for reforms are:

  1. Implementation of One Nation One Ration Card System
  2. Ease of doing business reform
  3. Urban Local body/ utility reforms
  4. Power Sector reforms.

The set of reforms stipulated by the Department of Expenditure are:

(a) The State will notify:

  • Floor rates of property tax in ULBs which are in consonance with the prevailing circle rates (i.e. guideline rates for property transactions) and;
  • Floor rates of user charges in respect of the provision of water supply, drainage, and sewerage which reflect current costs/past inflation.

(b)   The State will put in place a system of periodic increases in floor rates of property tax/ user charges in line with price increases.

Why need such reforms?

  • Reforms in ULBs and the urban utility reforms are aimed at the financial strengthening of ULBs to enable them to provide better public health and sanitation services to citizens.
  • Economically rejuvenated ULBs will also be able to create good civic infrastructure.

Back2Basics: Municipal Governance in India

  • Municipal or local governance refers to the third tier of governance in India, at the level of the municipality or urban local body.
  • Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are small local bodies that administer or govern a city or a town of a specified population.
  • They are vested with a long list of functions delegated to them by the state governments.
  • These functions broadly relate to public health, welfare, regulatory functions, public safety, public infrastructure works, and development activities.
  • There are several types of Urban Local Bodies in India such as Municipal Corporation, Municipality, Notified Area Committee, Town Area Committee, Special Purpose Agency, Township, Port Trust, Cantonment Board, etc.

Development through history

  • It has existed since the year 1687, with the formation of Madras Municipal Corporation, and then Calcutta and Bombay Municipal Corporation in 1726.
  • In the early part of the nineteenth century, almost all towns in India had experienced some form of municipal governance.
  • In 1882 the then Viceroy of India, Lord Ripon, known as the Father of Local Self Government, passed a resolution of local self-government which lead to the democratic forms of municipal governance in India.
  • In 1919, a Government of India Act incorporated the need of the resolution and the powers of democratically elected government were formulated.
  • In 1935 another Government of India act brought local government under the preview of the state or provincial government and specific powers were given.

Changes after the 74th Amendment (1992)

  • It was the 74th amendment to the Constitution that brought constitutional validity to municipal or local governments.
  • Until amendments were made in respective state legislation on an ultra vires (beyond the authority) basis and the state governments were free to extend or control the functional sphere.

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Redefining cities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Definition of urban area

Mains level: Paper 2- Need for new definition of urban area

The article the need for liberal and realistic definition of the ‘urban’ area in the next Census and mention the implications of such change.

2 ways to define urban areas

1) Statutory town

  • These towns are defined by state governments and place India’s urbanisation rate at 26.7%.
  • A statutory town includes all places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee.

2) Census-based criteria

  • Census adopts three criteria to define what is urban.
  • The three criteria are:
  • i) a minimum population of 5,000;
  • ii) at least 75% of the male main working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits, and
  • iii) a density of population of at least 400 persons per sq km
  • This, coupled with statutory towns, pegs India’s urbanisation rate at 31%.
  • Total number of towns (state and census) stands at 7,933, together constituting a 377-mn population.

Why there is a need for changing the definition of ‘urban’

  • There is growing evidence—mostly from satellite imagery—that India is way more urban than the 2011 Census estimate.
  • This is quite plausible because there is a large sum of money allocated for rural development, and it is in the interest of state governments to under-represent urbanisation.
  • Besides, the Census’s stringent definition was first carved out in 1961 which do not reflect the realities of the 21st century.
  • India won’t be alone in changing these definitions for Census 2021.
  • Many countries, such as China, Iran, the UK, among others, have changed the definition of ‘urban’ from one census to another.

Getting the right picture of urbanisation

  •  A more liberal and realistic definition in the upcoming census will present the actual picture of urbanisation.
  • For instance, if we just use the population density criteria like 37 other countries, with the 400 people per sq km threshold, we will add around 500 mn people to the urban share of the population.
  • This pegs the urbanisation rate at over 70%!

What will be its implications?

  • First, the budgetary allocation will reflect the reality and scales will balance between rural and urban areas.
  • Second, the urban areas will not be governed through rural governance structures of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
  • Third basic urban infrastructure like sewerage networks, fire services, building regulations, high-density housing, transit-oriented development, piped drinking water supply.
  • Fourth, these newly defined urban areas could act as a new source of revenue for funding local infrastructure development.
  • This would ease pressure on state finances.
  • Lastly, the rethink of urban definition would have an impact on the regional and national economy.
  • These newly defined urban areas will open them to new infrastructure such as railway lines, discom services, highway connectivity, creation of higher education institutes which will together increase the connectivity and resource capability at the local level.
  • This will not only boost the local economy but also ease pressure on bigger cities and help in cluster level development.

Conclusion

A rethink of urban definition in Census 2021, particularly with some degrowth in urban areas due to Covid, will bode well for India for coming decades in more ways than one.


Source:-

https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/redefining-cities-a-new-urban-consensus/2102154/

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[pib] Delhi–Meerut Regional Rapid Transit System (RRTS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: RRTS train

Mains level: Not Much

The first look of India’s first RRTS train on Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut corridor has been unveiled.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Consider the following pairs:

National Highway: Cities connected

  1. NH 4: Chennai and Hyderabad
  2. NH 6: Mumbai and Kolkata
  3. NH 15: Ahmedabad and Jodhpur

Which of the above pairs is/are correctly matched?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 1, 2 and 3

(d) None

About the RRTS train

  • The Delhi–Meerut RRTS is an 82.15 km long, under-construction, semi-high speed rail corridor connecting Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut.
  • It is one of the three rapid-rail corridors planned under Phase-I of Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS) project of National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC).
  • With a maximum speed of 160 km/h (99.42 mph), the distance between Delhi and Meerut will be covered in around 62 min (1.03 h).
  • With radiating stainless steel outer body, these aerodynamic RRTS trains will be lightweight and fully air-conditioned.
  • Each car will have six automatic plug-in type wide doors, three on each side for ease of access and exit.

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Global Smart City Index, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Global Smart City Index

Mains level: Success of the Smart City Mission

Four Indian cities -New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Bengaluru – witnessed a significant drop in their rankings in the global listing of smart cities that was topped by Singapore.

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which one of the following is not a sub-index of the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business Index’?

(a) Maintenance of law and order

(b) Paying taxes

(c) Registering property

(d) Dealing with construction permits

Global Smart City Index

  • The Institute for Management Development, in collaboration with Singapore University for Technology and Design, has released the 2020 Smart City Index.
  • Its key findings rest on how technology is playing a role in the Covid-19 era.
  • The 2020 Index was topped by Singapore, followed by Helsinki and Zurich in the second and the third place respectively.
  • Others in the top 10 list include Auckland (4th), Oslo (5th), Copenhagen (6th), Geneva (7th), Taipei City (8th), Amsterdam (9th) and New York at the 10th place.

India’s performances

  • In the 2020 Smart City Index, Hyderabad was placed at the 85th position (down from 67 in 2019), New Delhi at 86th rank (down from 68 in 2019), Mumbai was at 93rd place (in 2019 it was at 78) and Bengaluru at 95th (79 in 2019).
  • This drop can be attributed to the detrimental effect that the pandemic has had where the technological advancement was not up to date.
  • From 15 indicators that the respondents perceive as the priority areas for their city, all four cities highlighted air pollution as one of the key areas that they felt their city needed to prioritise on.
  • For cities like Bangalore and Mumbai, this was closely followed by road congestion while for Delhi and Hyderabad it was basic amenities, the report said.

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Issues metropolitan cities face

Metropolitan cities of India suffers from various issues. This article analyses such issues and suggests some steps to deal with them.

Inadequate public health infrastructure

  • India’s public health expenditure in 2018 was a mere 1.28% of GDP.
  • According to the World Bank, India’s out-of-pocket health expenditure was 62.4% in 2017, against the world average of 18.2%.
  • Manpower in the health sector is low with India’s doctor-population ratio being 1:1,457  against WHO norm of 1:1,000.

Governance issues

  • Factors underlying city governance include spatial planning, municipal capacities, empowered mayors and councils and inter-agency coordination, and ward-level citizen participation.
  • Twenty-seven after the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, these reform agendas continue to be slow in implementation.
  • India’s metropolitan cities have weak capacities in finance and staffing.
  • Bengaluru’s average percentage of own revenue to total expenditure is 47.9%, Chennai 30.5%, Mumbai 36.1% and Kolkata at 48.4%.
  • According to ASICS 2017, Mumbai has the highest number of officers per lakh population at 938 in the country.
  • Yet it is abysmally low compared to global cities such as Johannesburg with 2,922 and New York with 5,446 officers per lakh population

Limited powers of mayors

  • The leaders steering India’s metropolitan cities are toothless.
  • No big metropolitan cities with 10 million-plus population has a directly-elected Mayor.
  • Mumbai’s Mayor has a tenure of 2.5 years, Delhi and Bengaluru, a mere one year.
  • Mayors do not have full decision-making authority over critical functions of planning, housing, water, environment, fire and emergency services in most cases.
  • Our metropolitan cities are far from being local self-governments.
  • Parastatal agencies for planning, water and public transport report directly to State governments.
  • The State government also largely controls public works and police.
  • Globally, metropolitan cities are steered by a directly-elected leader.
  • Evolved examples include the Tokyo metropolitan government and recent experimental models such as combined authorities in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Suggestions

  • India needs home-grown solutions suited to its context and political realities while imbibing lessons on institutional design from global examples.
  • It is time the Central and State governments lead efforts towards a metropolitan governance paradigm.
  • The first steps should include empowered Mayors with five-year tenure, decentralised ward level governance, and inter-agency coordination anchored by the city government.

Lack of transparency, accountability and citizen participation

  • Transparent cities with institutional platforms encouraging citizen participation improve urban democracy.
  • No metropolitan has functional ward committees and area sabhas.
  • An absence of citizen participation is worsened by poor transparency in finance and operations.
  • As per ASICS 2017, India’s big metropolitan cities on average score 3.04/10 in transparency, accountability and participation.

Significance of smaller cities

  • A World Bank report notes that despite the emergence of smaller towns, the underlying character of India’s urbanisation is “metropolitan”.
  • Under this metropolitan character, new towns emerge around existing large cities.
  • According to a McKinsey report, in 2012, 54 metropolitan cities and their hinterlands accounted for 40% of India’s GDP.
  • The report also estimates that by 2025, 69 metropolitan cities, combined with their hinterlands, will generate over half of India’s incremental GDP between 2012 and 2025.
  • Despite this, India is yet to begin an active discourse on cohesive metropolitan governance frameworks.
  •  Studies by the Centre for Policy Research point that India’s spatial feature exhibits the growth of small towns beyond the economics of large agglomerations.
  • This indicates that while India’s urban vision should focus on its metropolitan cities to reap the benefit of scale, it shouldn’t ignore smaller cities.

Consider the question “Examine the issues in the governance of metropolitan cities. To what extent the limited power of mayors contributes to the issues of the metropolitan cities in India?”

Conclusion

India should use the current pandemic as an opportunity to introspect and reform the way its metropolises are governed.


Back2Basics: ASICS 2017

  • The Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2017 evaluates quality of governance in cities, covering 23 major cities in India across 20 states based on 89 questions.
  • Indian cities scored between 3.0 and 5.1 on 10, with Pune topping the charts for the first time.
  • Other cities that came in the top five include Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneswar and Surat, with scores in the range of 4.6 to 4.5.

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False urban rural binary

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: AMRUT

Mains level: Paper 1-Urbanisation and issues

The article brings out the issues in the rural-urban binary, which leads to the disparity in the allocation of resources to the urban areas.

Congestion and health issues in cities

  • The congestion in large cities has turned out to be their worst enemy during this pandemic.
  • Congestion is most evident in slums in large cities and poses a grave health and environmental challenges.
  • Yet, the Centre’s allocation for the rural component of the Swachh Bharat Mission is about seven times more than for urban areas.
  • Class I cities have 1.4 beds per 1,000 people. (with the population more than 1 lakh)
  • However, the urban support under the National Health Mission is just three per cent of the total allocation, while 97 per cent of the funds are set aside for rural areas.

Issues with the present urban development programs

  • The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (2005-2014) allocated the bulk of funds to large cities: 70 per cent to large cities and 30 per cent to smaller towns.
  • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Smart Cities Mission, focus on Class I cities.
  • Both these schemes provide funds for the more developed cities that already have relatively better infrastructure.
  • But these schemes overlook the nearly seven crore people who live in smaller towns.
  • These are towns that lag behind in services and infrastructure as compared to the big cities.

Consider the question “The rural-urban binary has led to the policy formulation in which there is a huge disparity in the allocation of resources and attention on the urban area. Comment.”

Conclusion

The pandemic has forced us to reflect on the unequal and unplanned development of urban settlements and the absence of infrastructure to provide for the teeming millions.  The challenges of urban poverty and congestion cry for more attention, more government support.

Original article:

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic-india-urban-cities-6520574/

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Smart Cities Mission and the public health

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: Paper 2- Lack of focus on public health in smart cities mission

“Smart Cities Mission” lacks the focus on public health. This article highlights the consequences of this. The article suggests strengthening the of local governments and provisions for the livelihood through an urban employment guarantee scheme.

“Smart Cities Mission”: Progress so far

  • The ‘Smart Cities Mission’, a flagship programme of the government, completed five years, in June 2020.
  •  The Mission had sought to make 100 selected cities “smart”.
  • Cities are being developed under “Area-Based Development” model.
  • Under this model, a small portion of the city would be upgraded by retrofitting or redevelopment.
  • Many of the projects undertaken under the ‘Smart Cities Mission’ are behind schedule.
  • According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, of the 5,151 smart city projects, only 1,638 projects have been completed.
  • In terms of expenditure, of the total investment of ₹2,05,018 crore, only projects worth ₹26,700 crore have been completed.

Lack of focus on Public health in Smart Cities Mission

  • ‘Smart Cities Mission’ has given little importance to basic services such as public health.
  •  An analysis shows that only 69 of over 5,000 projects undertaken under the Mission were for health infrastructure.
  • These projects are for an estimated cost of ₹2,112 crore, amounting to just around one per cent of the total mission cost.
  • Hence, public health seems to be a major blind spot in India’s smart city dreams.

Public Health: Essential local government function

  • ‘Smart Cities Mission’ had the stated aim of improving the quality of life of urban residents.
  • Further, public health is an essential local government function in India’s constitutional scheme.
  • As per the 74th Amendment ( 12th Schedule), “public health” is one of the 18 functions that are to be devolved to the municipalities.
  • However, public health infrastructure of cities has often been neglected over the years.

Strengthening Local Governments

  • Success of Kerala in containing the pandemic has shown how a decentralised political and administrative system can be effective.
  • It is important to strengthen local government capacities.
  • Investment in urban public health systems is needed.
  • Promoting programmes that improve the livelihoods of urban vulnerable communities should be the priority.
  • Programs such as the National Urban Livelihoods Mission and National Urban Health Mission, need to be strengthened.

Focus on Urban Employment

  • It is time to consider the introduction of a national urban employment guarantee programme.
  • Kerala has been running such a scheme since 2010.
  • States such as Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand have also recently launched similar initiatives in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Consider the question “Covid pandemic has highlighted the lack of focus on public health in our Smart Cities Mission. Suggest the measures to make our cities resilient and source of livelihood. 

Conclusion

As Indian cities face an unprecedented challenge, it is important to get the priorities of urban development right and invest in programmes that improve the health and livelihoods of its residents.

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[pib] Ease of Living Index and Municipal Performance Index 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Ease of Living Index and Municipal Performance Index

Mains level: Urban development

The surveys to determine the Ease of Living Index (EoLI) and Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2019 has been initiated by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs. Both these indices are designed to assess the quality of life of citizens in 100 Smart Cities and 14 other Million Plus Cities.

Municipal Performance Index

  • With the MPI 2019, the Ministry has sought to assess the performance of municipalities based on five enablers namely Service, Finance, Planning, Technology and Governance.
  • These have been further divided into 20 sectors which will be evaluated across 100 indicators.
  • This will help Municipalities in better planning and management, filling the gaps in city administration, and improving the liveability of cities for its citizens.

Ease of Living Index

  • EOLI is aimed at providing a holistic view of Indian cities – beginning from the services provided by local bodies, the effectiveness of the administration, the outcomes generated through these services in terms of the liveability within cities and, finally, the citizen perception of these outcomes.
  • The key objectives of the EOL Index are four-folds, viz.
  1. Generate information to guide evidence-based policy making;
  2. Catalyse action to achieve broader developmental outcomes including the SDG;
  3. Assess and compare the outcomes achieved from various urban policies and schemes; and
  4. Obtain the perception of citizens about their view of the services provided by the city administration.
  • For the first time, as part of the EOLI Assessment, a Citizen Perception Survey is being conducted on behalf of the Ministry (which carries 30% of the marks of the Ease of Living Index).
  • This is a very important component of the assessment exercise as it will help in directly capturing perception of citizens with respect to quality of life in their cities.
  • This survey, which is being administered both online and offline, has commenced from 1st February 2020 and will continue till 29th February 2020.
  • The offline version involving face-to-face interviews will commence on the 1st of February and will run parallel to the on-line versions.

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Fastest growing cities in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various keywords mentioned

Mains level: Urbanization in India

 The Economist has put Malappuram at the top of the “Top ten fastest-growing cities” in the world.

Anomalies in the data

  • The total fertility rate (TFR, the number of children a woman is likely to have in the childbearing age of 15-49) in Kerala is 1.8 as per NITI Aayog data from 2016 — below the replacement rate of 2.1.
  • Another Kerala city, Thrissur, is No. 13, and the capital Thiruvananthapuram is No. 33 on the UN list.
  • Tiruppur in Tamil Nadu — which has an even lower TFR of 1.6 — is No. 30.
  • Surat in Gujarat (TFR of 2.2) is No. 27. There is no representation on the list from high population growth states like Bihar and UP.

What does “fastest growing” refer to? How is a “city” defined?

  • The list based on data from the UN Population Division refers to “urban agglomerations” (UA), which are extended areas built around an existing town along with its outgrowths — typically villages or other residential areas or universities, ports, etc., on the outskirts of the town.
  • The Census defines a UA as “a continuous urban spread consisting of a town and its adjoining urban outgrowths or two or more physically contiguous towns together”.
  • The NCT of Delhi is a UA that includes the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) areas, as well as 107 “Census towns” — erstwhile surrounding villages where more than 75% of the population is now engaged in non-agricultural pursuits.

A pace of urbanization

  • The Economist has listed the rate at which the populations of the UAs are expected to increase between 2015 and 2020.
  • Since data on India and many other countries were not available for 2015 (the last Census in India was in 2011), the UN report used projections of UAs’ populations — estimates based on past population growth data.
  • The rate of growth between 2015 and 2020 thus calculated provides a measure of the pace of urbanisation.

How does urban population grow?

  • Urban populations can grow when the birth rate exceeds the death rate when workers migrate to the city in search of jobs; when more areas get included within the boundaries of the city; or when existing rural areas are reclassified as urban.
  • The low fertility rate in Kerala means the increase in the population of Malappuram and other cities is not because women are having more children; rather it is because more villages are being transformed into towns, and city borders are expanding.
  • According to the Census definition, an urban area is either a census town (CT) or a statutory town (ST). An ST is any place with a municipal corporation, municipal council, or cantonment board.
  • A CT can be a village with “urban characteristics” — a population more than 5,000, population density more than 400 people per sq km, and with more than 75% of the population not engaged in agriculture for their livelihood.
  • When a village becomes a CT, its population is included in the urban population of the district.

Could migration have caused the increase?

  • Migration can either increase or decrease the population of a town.
  • Kerala sees both emigration — migration from the state to other places — and immigration — the migration of workers to the state.
  • Also the remittances that emigrants send allow the residents of villages to move away from agriculture, which changes the status of a village to census town.

Why these cities are growing so fast?

  • These cities are seeing rapid urbanisation, and the main reason is the inclusion of new areas in the UA’s limits.
  • In 2001, there were two municipal corporations within the UA of Malappuram. In 2011, the number of municipal corporations had doubled to four, and an additional 37 CTs were included within Malappuram.
  • The population of the UA (excluding the residents of the outgrowths) increased almost 10 times in the same period — from 1,70,409 to 16,99,060 — obviously because of the inclusion of existing urban areas in the town.
  • Similarly, Kollam UA grew from one municipal corporation in 2001 to 23 CTs, one municipal corporation, and one municipal council in 2011.
  • Its population increased by 130%, even though the population of the original ST of Kollam actually decreased by 4%.

Why is this not seen elsewhere in India?

  • In Kerala, urbanisation is driven by a move away from agriculture, which leads to a change in a village’s Census classification status.
  • This is evident from the large number of CTs that were included in the UAs of the state since the last Census. On the other hand, except Delhi, the more populous cities in the North had fewer CTs in 2011.
  • While the pace of urbanisation has been slower in the North, some unnaturally high increases in the population can be expected after the 2021 Census — because in some cases, villages on the peripheries were brought within the administrative boundaries of the cities.

Is it good for the economy?

  • Urbanisation leads to the growth of cities, which are sites of infrastructure like universities, hospitals, and public transport facilities.
  • There are more opportunities for the youth, which is why they attract young people and entrepreneurs.
  • In India, people moving to cities leave behind (to some extent) caste and class divisions that dominate life in the villages, and can hope to climb up the social ladder.
  • However, unplanned urbanisation can be “exclusionary”, making it difficult for migrants to live there given the high cost.
  • Unregulated housing, lack of reliable public transport, and longer commutes within these towns puts a strain on the meagre resources of migrants.

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