Urban Transformation – Smart Cities, AMRUT, etc.

Aug, 16, 2018

India fares poor on Global Liveability


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Economist Intelligence Unit, Global Liveability Ranking

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


Global Liveability Index

  1. The rankings of 140 global cities, based on their living conditions were released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
  2. The EIU is part of UK magazine The Economist and provides forecasting and advisory services through research and analysis.
  3. The index assigns cities scores on five broad parameters — stability, healthcare, culture/environment, education, and infrastructure using 30 indicators.

India fares poor in Liveability

  1. India has fared poorly on the Global Liveability Index, 2018, with Delhi ranking 112 and Mumbai five places behind at 117.
  2. Delhi has outperformed Mumbai on education, healthcare and infrastructure, while faring marginally better on culture/environment. The only parameter in which Mumbai fares better than Delhi is stability.
  3. The weakest area for Delhi is its instability due to the high prevalence of petty and violent crimes, and a high risk of terrorism and civil unrest.
  4. It also achieves the lowest possible ranking for public transport, an indicator within infrastructure.
  5. Mumbai fares low in the infrastructure category as it is let down by poor roads and public transport and lack of water provision and quality housing.

Why makes India fare poor?

  1. Even newly-developed areas (in Indian cities) are poorly served by public transport, suffer from congestion and pollution, and have inadequate water.
  2. While private health and education are acceptable in both Mumbai and Delhi, the level and quality of public provision is well below the global average.
  3. High levels of corruption and social and religious restrictions also reduce liveability markedly in both cities.

Contrasting with Indian Study

  1. The EIU report is in contrast with the MoHUA’s recent Ease of Living Index for 111 Indian cities that was released wherein Mumbai ranked at number 3, far ahead of New Delhi at a low 65th rank.
  2. While much of the parameters and data sources are different for the two reports, New Delhi is far behind Mumbai on parameters such as health, education and physical infrastructure.
  3. EIU, which was involved in developing the methodology to measure city GDP for the Indian government’s Ease of Living report, had nothing to do with the ranking process itself.

Other Highlights of the ranking

  1. As per their ranking, the liveability factor of these two Indian cities is the same as Mexico City, Jeddah, Ho Chi Minh City and Jakarta.
  2. Austria’s capital Vienna has been ranked as the best city to live in, displacing Australian city of Melbourne, which had held the record for seven consecutive years.
  3. Syrian capital of Damascus continues to be ranked at the bottom of 140 cities despite the report noting that it has witnessed.
  4. Dhaka in Bangladesh is the second worst with Pakistan’s capital Karachi ranked as the fourth worst.
Aug, 14, 2018

Pune tops Ease of Living index; Patna ranked lowest of 111 cities


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Ease of Living Index

Mains level: Read the attached story


Ease of Living index 2018

  1. Three cities in Maharashtra — Pune, Navi Mumbai and Greater Mumbai — top the first Ease of Living Index brought out by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs
  2. Pune tops while Patna ranked lowest of 111 cities
  3. The national capital, New Delhi, is ranked 65 among 111 cities, while Chennai is in 14th place. Kolkata did not participate in the survey
  4. The other cities in the top ten include Tirupati, Chandigarh, Thane, Raipur, Indore, Vijayawada and Bhopal
  5. The three cities at the bottom of the rankings are Rampur, Kohima and Patna.

Data deficiency doesn’t mean poor performance

  1. The cities which were unable or unwilling to provide data received low scores
  2. For example, New Delhi has a score of “zero” on indicators regarding inclusive housing and mixed land use and compactness, and a score of just 0.12 on the economy and employment
  3. This does not mean that the capital actually performs so poorly on these indicators
  4. Instead, it probably means that the authorities who govern the city simply failed to provide any data on those indicators
  5. In some cases, it was a challenge to collect some of this information from data-starved urban local bodies.

Importance of this ranking

  1. A city’s ranking reflects its ability to provide data, as well as its actual performance on four different parameters:
  • Institutions or governance
  • Social indicators
  • Economic indicators
  • Physical infrastructure
  1. The ranking marks a shift to a data-driven approach to urban planning and management
  2. The future editions of the Index may also incorporate citizen and stakeholder feedback rather than relying on government data alone.

Administrative bottlenecks need to be addressed

  1. If cities are not able to provide data, their ability to plan and use their resources is questionable
  2. Particular complications were seen in indicators such as health —where local governments did not have access to data from private hospitals.
Jul, 25, 2018

[op-ed snap] India needs smart urbanization


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The newscard discusses the shortcomings of previous policies on urban transformation and highlights new avenues for the draft National Urban Policy which is under consideration.



  1. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has recently formed a committee to draft India’s National Urban Policy.
  2. The move is in accordance with the requirements of the New Urban Agenda of UN-Habitat, signed by 193 countries in Quito in October 2016.

Rural-Urban mismatch

  1. Case Study: Residents of Bhavanpur, a village about 15 km outside Ahmedabad, have been protesting against their inclusion in the city’s urban area by the local urban development authority.
  2. Similar protests have been observed in villages elsewhere in Gujarat. It’s a strange trend, the fruits of urban development seemingly rejected.
  3. Meanwhile, pollution in India’s urban areas seems to have sparked off a reverse migration.
  4. Farmers from Haryana who had migrated to Delhi and Gurugram for work to escape an agricultural crisis are increasingly going back to their farms during winter, unable to take the toxic pollution.

A rising number on Migration

  1. Over 34% of India’s current population lives in urban areas, rising by 3% since 2011.
  2. More importantly, while existing large urban agglomerations (those with a population above 50 lakh) have remained mostly constant in number since 2005.
  3. Smaller clusters have risen significantly (from 34 to 50 clusters with 10-50 lakh population).
  4. Migration is mostly a shadowed on that is taking place before actual urbanisation taking place in the context of basic amenities.

Stumbled initiatives on rise

  1. There is still an outstanding shortage of over 10 million affordable houses (despite the government taking encouraging steps to incentivize their construction.
  2. The annually recurring instances of floods in Mumbai, dengue in Delhi and lakes on fire in Bengaluru paint a grim picture.
  3. Various policy initiatives have not yielded much significant results.

Defining what is ‘Urban’

  1. Urban development comes under State governments, with the Governor notifying an area as urban based on parameters such as population, density, revenue generated for the local administration and percentage employed in non-agricultural activities.
  2. This notification leads to the creation of an urban local government or municipality, classifying the area as a “statutory town”.
  3. With such a vague definition, discretionary decisions yield a wide variance in what is considered a town.
  4. The Central government considers a settlement as urban if it has a urban local government, a minimum population of 5,000; over 75% of its (male) population working in non-agricultural activities; and a population density of at least 400 per sq. km.
  5. However, many States consider such “census towns” as rural, and establish governance through a rural local government or panchayat.

Infrastructural bottlenecks

  1. India spends about $17 per capita annually on urban infrastructure projects, against a global benchmark of $100 and China’s $116.
  2. Governments have come and gone, announcing a variety of schemes, but implementation has been mostly inadequate, with exploration of financing options limited as well.

Migration as a negative phenomenon

  1. Internal migration in India is very closely linked to urban transitions, with such migration helping reduce poverty or prevent households from slipping into it.
  2. Urban migration is not viewed positively in India, with policies often bluntly seeking to reduce rural to urban migration.
  3. Preventing such migration can be counterproductive it would be better to have policies and programmes in place to facilitate the integration of migrants into the local urban fabric, and building city plans with a regular migration forecast assumed.
  4. Lowering the cost of migration, along with eliminating discrimination against migrants, while protecting their rights will help raise development across the board.

Way Forward

  1. The announcement of a new urbanisation policy that seeks to rebuild Indian cities around clusters of human capital, instead of considering them simply as an agglomeration of land use, is a welcome transition.
  2. We need to empower our cities, with a focus on land policy reforms, granting urban local bodies the freedom to raise financing and enforce local land usage norms.
  3. For an India to shine, the transformation of its cities is necessary.
Jun, 29, 2018

[pib] Development without Felling/Cutting of Trees


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NBCC

Mains level: Example of re-location and transplantation of trees at mass level 


  1. Last weekend, over 1,500 people protested in South Delhi against the proposed cutting of over 14,000 trees for a project by the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC).
  2. The NBCC/CPWD will re-work the design and plans for the remaining redevelopment of the 7 GPRA colonies to avoid felling/cutting of trees.

Tree Re-location and Transplantation

  1. NBCC has already floated an Expression of Interest for the acquisition of tree re-location/transplantation equipment and for engaging services of trained professional entities in this respect.
  2. Further, Citizens groups will be invited to suggest where transplanted trees will be planted.
  3. It may be clarified that these will not be saplings but trees of 8-12 feet height.
  4. The LG of Delhi has been advised to set up a Group of Experts/concerned citizens to interact on environmental issues and for specific further actions to be taken in respect of these colonies.


National Buildings Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC)

  1. It is a Navratna organization under category I, is a Central Public Sector undertaking which trades publicly in the market and is largely owned by Government of India.
  2. It engages in the Real Estate Development & Construction business and also provides Project Management Consultancy.
  3. NBCC has also undertaken overseas projects in countries like Iraq, Libya, Nepal, Mauritius, Turkey, Botswana, Republic of Maldives, Republic of Yemen et al.
  4. NBCC is also designated as the implementing agency for executing projects under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), Solid Waste Management (SWM) and developmental work in North Eastern Region.
Jun, 27, 2018

[op-ed snap] Ripples of reform in Dhaka


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Inadequate drainage and sewerage networks across Indian megacities and lessons that can be learnt from other megacities across the world


Dhaka’s water management

  1. Dhaka, with a population of 12.5 million, is the sixth-largest megacity in the world
  2. Dhaka has one of the worst vulnerabilities to water of any urban setting in the world
  3. It is handling it in an inclusive manner which is also financially sustainable

Similarities between Indian megacities & Dhaka

  1. Dhaka’s water challenges are similar to what we experience in our megacities
  2. Having polluted its rivers with industrial effluents and municipal sewage, the city remains heavily (80 percent) dependent on groundwater for its drinking water needs
  3. The water-table is at least 600 feet deep and it amounts to water mining from a resource that has accumulated over thousands of years
  4. It has resulted in a rapid decline in Dhaka’s water table at the rate of about two to three meters per year for close to three decades

Transformation of water usage scenario

  1. Dhaka’s water scenario transformation began in 2005
  2. In that year, the Government of Bangladesh accorded high priority to safe water and appropriate sanitation as part of its National Poverty Reduction Strategy
  3. The Asian Development Bank rose to the occasion by offering support to the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) to carry out reforms in the water services sector and build its capacity
  4. In 2007, the piped network for distribution of water in Dhaka was in a state of disrepair with innumerable (mostly unidentified) leakages and illegal connections
  5. Loss of water due to physical leakages in the pipes was more than 50 percent
  6. Only half of the water supplied to the networks was ever billed and only 62 percent of the water bills were actually collected
  7. Dhaka has managed to invest enough in its water distribution infrastructure to raise the coverage of water connections in the non-slum areas to close to 100 percent
  8. The replacement of the old pipes has resulted in reduced physical water losses in the range of 2-14 percent at commission
  9. Trenchless technology for laying pipes allowed faster execution and reduced inconvenience to the residents, so commonly observed in trench digging works in most Indian cities

Measures to maintain the momentum

  1. DWASA has built a state-of-the-art training facility to organise regular training programmes for its staff to use smart water technologies to sustain the efficiency gains
  2. To ensure financial sustainability, there has been tariff increase of 5 per cent every year since 2007
  3. DWASA has successfully completed computerisation of the entire databases of approximately 3,00,000 connections, and monthly water bills are issued from this database
  4. A citizens’ grievance redressal centre has been established in each zone to resolve complaints regarding the services

A unique feature of the system

  1. Households living in slums (25 percent of the population) are also being connected with a piped network and are paying for water without any cross-subsidy
  2. A noteworthy development is that the slum residents organized themselves into community-based organizations and ensured that all water bills were paid on time
  3. The emphasis on connecting the slums demonstrated that the urban poor are a viable market to be taken seriously

Lessons for India

  1. Highly inadequate drainage and sewerage networks, and lack of sewage treatment continue to pose major challenges in megacities in India
  2. In Delhi, those not connected to the distribution network do not benefit from lifeline water since they remain at the mercy of the “official” tankers
  3. Dhaka slum dwellers’ monthly usage of water puts them in lifeline consumption, a level that attracts the lowest tariffs, allowing the utility to have a pro-poor and inclusive approach
  4. Indian utilities can also adopt this approach

Way forward

  1. The shift from groundwater to surface water will have to be planned and implemented
  2. It will be a long haul, but as Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher, put it, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”
Jun, 27, 2018

[pib] Constitution of Committee for Standardization and Indigenization in Metro Rail Systems


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Metro Rail Projects are sought to be most feasible options for urban transport. Many systems of Metro rails are now indigenously manufactured in India. The newscard talks about reducing Installation and Operation Cost of metro through standardization and indigenization processes.


  1. With rapid Industrialization, Urbanization, Globalization and concentration of large population in urban centers, the cities and towns of the country are growing at a faster pace.
  2. To keep this faster pace, for moving people, goods and services, metro rail projects are playing a crucial role not only as a transportation solution but as a means to transform cities.

Metro Lines in India

  1. Today, 490 km of metro lines are operational in 10 different cities in the country.
  2. More than 600 km of metro rail projects are under construction in various cities.
  3. In the coming years, there will be robust growth in the metro rail sector.
  4. More than 350 km of new construction will be started in the next few years as more and more cities are planning for expansion or new constructions of metro rail.

Increased Govt Expenditure over Metro Projects

  1. The Government of India is providing financial support in the implementation of metro rail projects by way of Equity and Subordinate Debt as well as sovereign guarantee for multilateral and bilateral loans.
  2. The increasing trend of central government budget outlay provided for metro rail projects in last four years is evidence of the ever growing need for metro rail to decongest and enhance mobility in our cities.
  3. The average budget outlay of Govt. of India is likely to increase to about Rs 25,000 cr annually, apart from the investments envisaged by the state governments, private partners and ULBs.

Decent background for Standardization and Indigenization

  1. Various other steps have been taken for the systematic and sustainable growth of metro rail projects in the country.
  2. The standards for rolling stock and signaling systems for the metro rail in India have been notified in 2017 after concurrence from Railway Board.
  3. The standards for electrical systems have been concurred by the Railway Board recently and the same will be notified soon.
  4. The detailed specifications for the Automatic Fare Collection System and the complete eco-system based on the Rupay standard has been prepared by NPCI and C-DAC in collaboration with DMRC.
  5. Substantial expenditure has already been incurred and the first indigenous gate based on the National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) is likely to be launched and BEL has been tasked for this.
  6. The specifications of the most advanced signaling system in the world viz. Communication-Based Train Control (CBTC) system, which was introduced by Kochi Metro Rail first in the country, is also being formulated jointly by BEL, C-DAC, DMRC, STQC through MoHUA.

Way Forward

  1. However, there are numerous other areas for which indigenous standards need to be formulated.
  2. These are layout of metro station, platforms, signage & displays, size of tunnels, fire protection systems, disaster management systems, environment friendly and waste management systems, standards for solar panels at stations etc.
  3. These indigenous standards will ensure that metro rail sub systems for all new metro projects conform to the prescribed standards thus incentivizing manufacturers to plan for long term investments in the country and set up manufacturing units.
  4. This will also bring down the cost of the metro rail constructions and operation. For this purpose, a committee has been constituted.
Jun, 25, 2018

Smart Cities Mission is too project-based and lacks integrated vision: Report


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart Cities Mission

Mains level: The newscard critically evaluates Smart Cities Mission on its very goal of area-based development thereby neglecting community development due to institutional bottlenecks.


Lack of holistic approach

  1. The government’s flagship Smart Cities Mission has been too “project-focused” instead of evolving an integrated urban development paradigm
  2. New Delhi-based Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) highlights following aspects seeking more attention:
  • Gender
  1. It also lacks a strong gender equality or non-discrimination approach to city development
  2. The report also highlights the lack of any specific directions with the mission to make Indian cities more gender friendly or non-discriminatory.
  3. The ministry of housing and urban affairs had earlier proposed to set up several smart city sub-committees, including one on gender, but these are yet to take off.
  • Area
  1. The report also critiques the model for creating small area-based ‘smart enclaves’ resulting in an undue focus on a part of the cities.
  2. These area-based development zones cover less than 5% of the geographic domain of many of the proposed smart cities, says the report prepared by the HLRN.
  • Urban Amenities
  1. The lack of a city development model, for example, and adequate standards to guide project implementation, including for housing, water, sanitation, health, and environmental sustainability.
  2. This raises questions about whether the mission will really be able to deliver on its aims and ensure the fulfillment of rights and entitlements of all city residents, the report says.
  • No HR based approach
  1. The SCM guidelines do not include any human rights-based indicators to monitor implementation of the Mission or to ensure that projects will also benefit low-income and other disadvantaged groups.
  • Least Spending made so far
  1. In its March 2018 report, the standing committee had noted that of all urban schemes, spending on Smart Cities Mission had been the lowest.
  2. Only 8% of the total identified projects under the mission have been completed in three years.

Way Forward

  1. The Smart Cities Mission should reinvent itself as the Sustainable Cities Mission.
  2. A shift is required to bring about substantial and sustained improvement in the lives and livelihoods of not only the 8% of India’s population covered by the mission’s proposed ‘area-based development’
  3. It should define its goal as development for every inhabitant of this country.
Jun, 14, 2018

[op-ed snap] The missing tiers


Mains Paper 2: Polity | devolution of powers & finances up to local levels & challenges therein

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendments, Smart Cities mission, parastatal agencies

Mains level: Conflicts amongst various levels of government and its impact on governance


Status of urban local government

  1. Twenty-five years ago, the Constitution underwent what is arguably its most significant transformation with the passage of the 73rd (mandating the creation of panchayats) and the 74th (creation of municipalities) Constitutional Amendments
  2. As the Central Government’s Smart Cities mission completes three years this month, it’s the right time to examine India’s tryst with municipal governance

Concerns in the constitutional design of urban local governments 

The disempowerment and depoliticisation has happened in multiple ways

  1. First, elected representatives at the city-level are rendered powerless by making them subservient to the State government
  2. In most municipal corporations, while the mayor is the ceremonial head, the executive powers of the corporation are vested with the State government-appointed commissioner
  3. Municipal corporations are further denied their political role by the continued operation of various parastatal agencies created by the State government
  4. These agencies, which function with a certain autonomy, are accountable only to the State government, not the local government
  5. Even urban planning and land-use regulation (globally a quintessential local government function) is with State government-controlled development authorities

Inherent limitations in 74th amendment

  1. Many of its key provisions are not mandatory for the State government
  2. The functions listed under the 12th Schedule — which a State government is expected to devolve to the local government — do not include essential civic issues such as urban transportation, housing or urban commons
  3. The 74th Amendment also contains an industrial township exception whereby a municipality need not be constituted in areas which are declared as industrial townships

Ward committees not a solution

  1. Civic activism has often been focussed on the creation of two bodies mandated by the 74th Amendment — ward committees and metropolitan planning committees
  2. Civil society’s fixation with nominating its members into ward committees can further depoliticise local governments and make them captive to the interests of certain elite resident welfare associations

Way forward

  1. Indian cities have grown exponentially over the last 25 years, with some crossing the 10 million population mark
  2. As cities struggle to meet the basic needs of their inhabitants, we must re-examine the existing modes of organising power in urban India
  3. While urban governance reforms can take multiple shapes, they must be foregrounded in the political empowerment of local government that furthers local democratic accountability
May, 23, 2018

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


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Read the attached stories

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


UN report on urban migration in India

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

Women as urban migrants

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

The problems faced by women migrants

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

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

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

What should be done?

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

We can learn from other countries

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

The way forward

  1. Women migrants have a right to equal access to employment, adequate income and social protection
  2. An inclusive National Urban Policy should integrate migration and the needs of migrants(in particular women migrants)
May, 18, 2018

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


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

From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important

Prelims Level: The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs

Mains Level: Specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.



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

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

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

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

The imperative before the Government

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

Crucial issues in Indian Cities

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

What should be done?

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


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

  1. It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences, as well as services to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Second and Third Committees of the United Nations General Assembly
  2. UN DESA assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges
  3. It supports international cooperation to promote sustainable development for all, having as a foundation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015
  4. In providing a broad range of analytical products, policy advice, and technical assistance, UN DESA effectively translates global commitments in the economic, social and environmental spheres into national policies and actions and continues to play a key role in monitoring progress towards internationally agreed-upon development goals
  5. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group
Mar, 21, 2018

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


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

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



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

Special attention for sustainable urbanisation

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

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

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

What should be done?

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

The way forward

  1. City blueprints are not a pipe dream but are politically feasible
  2. Countries such as Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and the Philippines have accomplished much in their cities through such means, led by state- and city-level political leaders
  3. We need a broad coalition of stakeholders to adopt a positive narrative on institution-building and better city systems along with the narrative on outcomes
Mar, 17, 2018

Measurable development: When cities compete


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

Mains level: Innovative methods to tackle urbanization problems


Rankings as a tool to gauge urban development

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

Increasing use of such city rankings

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

Global rankings

  1. The Economist Intelligence Unit publishes an annual Global Liveability Ranking
  2. It ranks 140 cities by their urban quality of life based on assessments of stability, healthcare, culture, and environment, education and infrastructure
  3. Intergovernmental organizations such as the EU and UN-Habitat were among the first to try to compare outcomes in city and metropolitan areas
Mar, 15, 2018

Pune tops quality of governance list


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

Mains level: Problems posed by urbanization in India


Quality of governance among Indian cities

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

Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems

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

Problems being faced by Indian cities

  1. A weak urban planning framework
  2. Stability of finances
  3. Lack of skilled staff and poor management of human resources
  4. Fragmentation of governance and low levels of empowerment of mayors and councilors
Mar, 10, 2018

Smart City Mission: Resonating with global climate themes

Image source


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

Mains level: India’s efforts at tackling rising urbanization


3 cities enter ‘One Planet City Challenge’

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

More competition ahead

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


One Planet City Challenge (OPCC)

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

Image source
Feb, 28, 2018

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


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Smart Cities mission

Mains level: Urban transformation and challenges involved


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

Objective of the programme :

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

Focus Areas

  • Sustainable urban development in the area of integrated planning,
  • provision of affordable housing
  • and basic services with particular focus on water,
  • wastewater and solid waste management and mobility
Feb, 19, 2018

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


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: United Nations’ World Urbanization Prospects

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


Delhi, Mumbai to be Megacities

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

Changes till 2030

  1. As per the report, the population in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa is only going to increase by 2030
  2. At present, Tokyo is the most populated city in the world with a population of 38 million
  3. Delhi and Mumbai will be second and fourth largest cities in the world respectively
Feb, 12, 2018

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


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


UN-Habitat “World Cities Report 2016”

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

Urbanisation: Challenges

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

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut)

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

Mobilization of resources: Budget 2018-19

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

What should be done?

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

How can a NUP help?

  1. First, such a policy will outline and highlight the importance and objectives of cities
  2. Second, urbanization in India is a complex issue, with the majority of city-related issues being state subjects
  3. States would have to take the lead in order to make cities vibrant economic centres
  4. However, there is a need to build adequate capacities at the state/urban local bodies level to prepare cities for future challenges
  5. The NUP would set the common minimum agenda, involving participation of all stakeholders
  6. Third, a NUP will provide a framework for states, which would be encouraged and nudged to adopt a state version of this policy
Jan, 20, 2018

National Urban Policy: Single policy for multiple states


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

Mains level: Tackling urbanization challenges in India


Panel to develop framework for a comprehensive national policy

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

Urban planning a state subject

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

Habitat III

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


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

Effect of India’s urbanization on world

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

Paradigm shift in tackling urbanization challenges

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

India’s vision of urbanization

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

  1. Putting in place integrated urban policies consistent with principle of co-operative federalism
  2. Harmonise agglomeration economies
  3. Harnessing the rural-urban continuum
  4. Promoting inclusive urban development
  5. Recognise and actively promote the centrality of sustainability
  6. Empowering municipalities and other local level institutions
  7. Strengthening housing finance system
  8. Provision and financing of urban infrastructure and basic services
  9. Access to social justice and gender equity
  10. Robust urban information system
Jan, 20, 2018

Govt plans liveability index of 116 cities


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

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

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


Liveability index planned

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

Modus Operandi

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

Global Liveability Ranking

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

‘Liveability Standards’

  1. In June last year ministry had launched a set of ‘Liveability Standards’ relevant to Indian cities
  2. It included 79 indicators in 15 categories for measuring institutional, social, economic and physical aspects that affect quality of life
  3. These included education, healthcare, roads, mobility, jobs, grievance redressal, pollution, emergency response, green open spaces, as well as cultural and entertainment opportunities
Dec, 25, 2017

Govt to provide ecosystem for raising municipal bonds


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Municipal bonds, AMRUT and Smart cities mission

Mains level: Urban development and issues associated with it


10-year municipal bonds

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

Centre’s intervention not desired

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

Need of municipal bonds

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


Municipal bonds

  1. Municipal bonds are bonds issued by urban local bodies- municipal bodies and municipal corporates (entities owned by municipal bodies) to raise money for financing specific projects specifically infrastructure projects
  2. Bangalore Municipal Corporation was the first ULB to issue Municipal Bond in India in 1997
  3. Municipal bonds in India has tax-free status if they conform to certain rules and their interest rates will be market-linked
  4. Both public issue and private issue can be adopted for municipal bonds
  5. SEBI has allowed urban local bodies to raise money through the issue of revenue bonds as well
  6. Municipal bonds where the funds raised are kept for one project are termed revenue bonds
Nov, 29, 2017

[op-ed snap] Making Indian cities more competitive


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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


Why is urbanization important for India?

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

Understanding of what makes cities more competitive

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

Several drivers of city competitiveness
Demographic traits:

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

Structural traits: Physical and Human Infrastructure

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

Agglomeration economies: 

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

Other drivers of city competitiveness

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

Effects of population and education on different industries

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

The way forward

  1. India’s urban transformation will take place at a 100 times faster pace than what developed countries have experienced
  2. India is at the forefront of this global transformation
  3. Cities raise special challenges in forming public-private partnerships in building physical and human infrastructure
  4. They also provide a quick opportunity to accelerate growth, create jobs, and promote shared prosperity
May, 01, 2017

Centre mulls aerotropolis in Assam

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


  • An aerotropolis is a metropolitan subregion where the layout, infrastructure, and economy are centered on
    an airport which serves as a multimodal “airport city” commercial core.
  • It is similar in form to a traditional metropolis, which contains a central city commercial core and commuterlinked suburbs.
  • The engine of the aerotropolis is the airport and its air routes which offer firms speedy connectivity to their
    distant suppliers, customers, and enterprise partners worldwide.
  • The aerotropolis encompasses aviation-dependent businesses and the commercial facilities that support
    them and the multitude of air travelers who pass through the airport annually.
Oct, 24, 2016

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

  1. Context: Recently concluded UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, in Quito, Ecuador
  2. A once-in-a-generation event, the Habitat conference sets a guiding compass for member-countries for the next 20 years
  3. Central theme of 2016: Challenges of a rapidly urbanising world and of providing people with equal opportunities in cities
  4. Previous years themes: Reducing urban inequality, improving access to housing and sanitation, mobility, and securing the rights of women, children, older adults
  5. Importance for India? India’s ambition to harness science and data for orderly urbanisation is articulated in a set of policy initiatives, chiefly the Smart Cities Mission and the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation
  6. UN Habitat plans to review country-level progress on its New Urban Agenda in Kuala Lumpur in 2018. India’s performance on improving the quality of life in its cities will be watched
  7. India’s ‘Housing for All’ policy: Low-cost, disaster-resistant, prefabricated constructions are the key
Sep, 21, 2016

Govt announces 27 new Smart Cities

  1. Maharashtra tops the list with five cities- Aurangabad, Kalyan-Dombivli, Nagpur, Nashik and Thane
  2. Tamil Nadu and Karnatak come second with four cities each
Jul, 02, 2016

More Smart Cities to be developed

  1. News: The Ministry of Urban Development has now allowed 9 more capitals to participate in the next round of the Smart Cities competition
  2. The total list of Smart Cities to be developed has increased from 100 to 109 after the addition
  3. 9 more capitals are proposed, including Patna, Thiruvananthapuram, Bengaluru, Amaravati, Itanagar and Gangtok
  4. Context: As per the Urban Development Policy, only 100 cities are listed to be developed as Smart Cities in the next 5 years
Jun, 03, 2016

What is an international arbitration centre?

  1. IAC is a centre where disputes arising out of commercial agreements from sectors like insurance, shipping, construction, private equity and other trades are handled
  2. Arbitration is different from court litigation and is typically less time-consuming
  3. Why? Because it is done in private between the lawyers representing the aggrieved parties
Jun, 03, 2016

Singapore Arbitration Centre to open India office

  1. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) will establish a representative office at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City)
  2. Aim: To resolve international commercial disputes
  3. As per the the agreement, GIFTCL, GIFT SEZ and SIAC will collaborate to promote the use of arbitration, mediation and other dispute resolution mechanisms
  4. It also includes the innovative ‘Arb-Med-Arb’ service offered by the SIAC and the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC)
  5. Further, SIAC will establish a representative office at GIFT City to promote its international arbitration services to Indian users
  6. Indian parties are among the top five foreign users of SIAC in the last five years & India was the top foreign user of SIAC in 2013 and 2015
May, 27, 2016

Pune makes it to Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities programme

  1. New York-based Rockefeller Foundation has included Pune it in its 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) programme
  2. Earlier: Pune was included in the first roster of the ‘Smart Cities’ project
  3. Pune’s inclusion will help enhance its ‘Smart City’ bid & will provide an international platform to exchange ideas and help to implement modern urban planning practices
  4. Pune, along with Jaipur, was included in the final tranche of 37 cities that were unravelled in Nairobi and includes rapidly growing megacities like Jakarta and Seoul
May, 25, 2016

Lucknow, Warangal among 13 smart cities announced by govt

  1. Context: Centre announced the names of 13 more cities that will be developed under the Smart City Mission
  2. Cities: Lucknow in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh tops the list, followed by Warangal in Telangana and Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh
  3. Chandigarh, Raipur (Chhattisgarh), New Town Kolkata, Bhagalpur (Bihar), Panaji (Goa), Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Islands), Imphal (Manipur), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Agartala (Tripura) and Faridabad (Haryana)
  4. Selection process: These cities were chosen from the 23 that failed to get representation in the first round of a competition held in January, and participated in the fast-track competition
Apr, 23, 2016

ADB offers loans for Smart City projects

  1. Context: The Asian Development Bank has agreed to extend a loan of $1 billion for the Smart City Projects
  2. The World Bank is also willing to give a loan of $0.5 billion
  3. Ratings: The cities should work toward achieving decent enough credit ratings from agencies approved by the SEBI
  4. Why? This is important for resource mobilisation and the creation of municipal- level bonds
  5. The process for the credit rating of 85 cities had already been initiated under AMRUT
Apr, 14, 2016

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

  1. News: Centre has asked the concerned states under the ‘Smart City Mission’ to ensure launch of their respective projects by June 25
  2. Govt. also urged the smart cities to ensure appointment of full-time CEOs for the SPVs
  3. Financing: The first batch of 20 selected smart cities have proposed a total investment of over Rs 48,000 crore over the next 4 years
  4. The central govt will provide an assistance of Rs 500 crore for each city and the respective states and urban local bodies will provide an equal amount
Apr, 02, 2016

NITI Aayog to develop smart mobility planning kits

  1. Context: NITI Aayog has decided to come out with mobility planning tool kits to facilitate smart and sustainable urban transport solutions
  2. Need: Indian urban population expected to reach 600 million by 2030
  3. Kits will be developed with the help of experts, state governments and local urban body authorities
  4. Focus: Small (1 to 10 lakh) and medium (10 to 50 lakh) sized cities
  5. Benefits: Promote developing public transportation like city bus services and bus road transit (BRT)
  6. Also help make streets with provisions for people can walk, cycle and park
Mar, 08, 2016

Germany focusses on 3 cities for Smart City project

  1. Context: India’s ambitious Smart Cities programme is receiving support from various countries
  2. News: Kochi, Bhubaneswar and Coimbatore would be the first three cities to receive Germany’s support under the Smart City project
  3. Reason: German companies have developed smart solutions to make smart cities
  4. Benefits: Germany has been involved in various fields related to Smart Cities such as sustainable urban mobility, water and waste-water management, renewable energies and energy efficiency
Feb, 15, 2016

North East's 1st Smart Village

  1. Context: Barsimaluguri, about 11 km from the Indo-Bhutan border, in Baksa district has been turned into a model smart village
  2. Geography: a remote nondescript, insurgency-ravaged village in Assam along Indo- Bhutan border
  3. Developments? 100% toilets, solar power and pure drinking water
  4. Initiative: by a few individuals under the aegis of Nanda Talukdar Foundation (NTF)
  5. 4 Main Verticals: alternative energy, drinking water, sanitation and skill development
Feb, 13, 2016

Pact to develop Vizag as smart city

  1. Context: Pact between US Trade & Development Agency (USTDA) & Andhra Pradesh Government
  2. Aim: To develop infrastructure, communications and data systems
  3. Smart city: Development is in line with its goal to become a Smart City
  4. Award: this cooperation is particularly timely as Vizag recently won 1st phase of Smart Cities Challenge by GoI
  5. Impact: Development and modernization efforts will be partially supported by the central government
Feb, 09, 2016

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

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

  1. Mr. Modi and Mr. Cameroon had agreed to support opening of 11 Indo-UK Institutes of Health in India with an investment of £1 billion
  2. Mr. Naidu also met delegation of U.S. businessmen and assured them that Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV), one of the key administrative bodies for Smart Cities
  3. This would give ample powers to ensure timely execution of smart development projects
  4. The Smart Cities Trade Mission is keen to learn more about the market and new business opportunities
  5. By creating a forum to explore avenues for collaboration, the mission fosters commercial engagement between the 2 countries
Feb, 08, 2016

Learn about HRIDAY scheme

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

  1. The National Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) aims to preserve and rejuvenate the rich cultural heritage of the country.
  2. Ministry: Urban Development
  3. It seeks to promote an integrated, inclusive and sustainable development of heritage sites
  4. This will focusing not just on maintenance of monuments but on advancement of the entire ecosystem including its citizens, tourists and local businesses
  5. The tourism potential of the country is still to be fully harnessed and this scheme will help in this regard
  6. The 12 cities selected for the scheme are Ajmer, Amritsar, Amravati, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Warangal, Puri, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Varanasi and Velankanni
Jan, 30, 2016

Giving cities the smart edge

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

  1. Rapid and poorly regulated urbanisation has overwhelmed urban governments, rendering them incapable of providing even basic services.
  2. Smart city is one that “enables a decent life to the citizens, and green and sustainable environment, besides enabling adoption of smart solutions”.
  3. Smart cities would create virtually new business districts in several cities, marking a departure from the disaggregated urban development witnessed in the past.
  4. This area-based development approach makes it imperative that the resulting demand for mobility to and from the ‘smart’ area be made an integral part of the plan.
  5. Emphasis should be on walkability, use of non-motorised transport and access to public transport.
  6. Care also needs to be taken that the effect is not to create gated communities of best practices.
  7. But ensuring that these urban enclaves cater to the housing, health, education and recreation needs of a wide cross section of society.
Jan, 29, 2016

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

Ministry to soon introduce credit rating to attract investors.

  1. The list of 20 cities that have qualified to build smart infrastructure with Rs. 200 crore each from the Central government’s first phase of funding.
  2. The Ministry has given top rating to Bhubaneswar for its robust Smart City plan.
  3. Mission promotes integrated city planning, where Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation complement each other.
  4. The Central government has created an outside agency named Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).
  5. This will be headed by a CEO, and will be given powers to “execute” the proposed developments and projects.
Jan, 09, 2016

What is Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation?

  1. AMRUT is the new avatar of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
  2. AMRUT adopts a project approach to ensure basic infrastructure services relating to water supply, transportation and development of green spaces.
  3. Under this mission, 10% of the budget allocation will be given to states and union territories as incentive based on the achievement of reforms during the previous year.
  4. AMRUT will be implemented in 500 locations with a population of one lakh and above.
  5. Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with >10 lakh population.
Jan, 07, 2016

Biodiversity database for smart city initiative to be launched soon

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

  1. The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), Lucknow, has made a proposal to its parent organisation, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which has given its consent.
  2. The core infrastructure of a smart city demands sustainable environment and health, and the portal will be helpful in this regard.
  3. The portal will help identify as to which species would be suitable for growing in a particular environment.
  4. To start with, the NBRI will upload the published database pertaining to the local biodiversity of each city, including the varieties of plants and trees that are endemic to it.
Dec, 24, 2015

National Urban Information System (NUIS)

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

  1. NUIS is the project of Ministry of Urban Development with Survey of India as the focal point.
  2. At the behest of Ministry of Urban Development, National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) of ISRO has prepared geospatial thematic database.
  3. For 152 towns on 1:10,000 scale and carried out Aerial survey of 132 towns at 1:2,000 scale for Survey of India.
  4. Under its Disaster Management Programme, ISRO has provided the flood inundation maps using satellite data extensively during the recent floods of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Nov, 24, 2015

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

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

  1. They were asked to ensure convergence of various schemes of the Central Govt aimed at enhancing energy supply.
  2. It urged the ULBs to ensure speedy approvals for laying City Gas Distribution(CGD) Pipelines in smart cities.
  3. It also asked them to ensure Roof Top based solar power generation as a part of measures to ensure that 10% of energy demand is met from solar power.
  4. They should make use of infrastructure being provided for enabling smart solutions for video-monitoring of crimes, effective management of water, power, traffic, solid waste etc.
Nov, 18, 2015

Cities seek to address water logging problem under Atal Mission

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

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

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

  1. David Cameron has announced British technical and financial aid to develop Pune, Amravati and Indore.
  2. U.K. would enter into a 5-year partnership to develop these cities.
  3. British companies with their world-class consulting, project management and engineering skills, will help plan, design and build these new cities.
Oct, 07, 2015

Smart City: States keen on foreign expertise

  1. The officials of most of the 88 upcoming smart cities have expressed their wish to work with international consulting firms.
  2. The cities want to prepare robust development plan to win govt. funding.
  3. The plans shall contain area development action plans and financing plan for the complete life cycle of the proposal.
  4. These cities will compete with each other to secure a slot in top 20 positions that the govt. will finance for the coming financial year.
Sep, 04, 2015

Smart City has to be compact: experts

  1. For the first time, Urban Development Ministry has organized the workshop on the Smart City Mission for mayors and commissioners.
  2. The govt. emphasized that urban renewal policies were designed to accommodate the urban poor.
  3. This is in contradiction to the model which largely relies on high property taxes and expensive public services.
  4. The cities have to be compact, spread on minimum of 500 acres with adequate water supply, assured electricity, sanitation and efficient urban mobility.
  5. To fill the financial gaps the government would have to increase taxes on property, entertainment, advertisements and parking lots.
Sep, 02, 2015

Needed, smart solutions

  1. The corporate in the field of smart energy, surveillance, etc. have welcomed the clarity for industry players to engage with the cities administration.
  2. All the companies are looking to sell their high-tech products to the cities.
  3. But, govt. is yet to reveal what kind of technology it intends to procure and deploy.
  4. There is not much clarity on smart cities which seeks to integrate public transport, drinking water, solid waste mgmt., sanitation and sewerage which are similar in AMRUT.
  5. The smart cities in Europe and US are driven by IT, such as one massive control room would deliver public services.
Aug, 28, 2015

Centre unveils list of 98 smart cities

  1. The largest share of developing 13 smart cities is with UP, followed by Tamil Nadu, which qualified to develop 12.
  2. The Smart City Mission promotes integrated city planning with an aim to achieve inclusive growth.
  3. The Ministry will impose fines on States that violate the timeline of 60 days of finalising the projects.
  4. The smart city mission will attract both national and international investors who are looking for opportunities.
  5. The mission will see govt. schemes re-enforcing each other, such as Swachh Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation.
Jul, 12, 2015

Foreign investors express interest in Smart Cities project

  1. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) is anticipating private foreign investments worth at least Rs 4 lakh crore till 2020 in the 100 Smart Cities.
  2. This accounts for 80% of the estimated spending on the mission, with only the remaining 20% coming from the center and the states.
  3. Smart Cities initiative involves efficient provision of infrastructure and services, urban mobility and governance, mainly through use of digital technology.
Apr, 07, 2015

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

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

    Do not miss important study material