Home / Business / India to Promote Planned Urbanization to Enhance Quality of Life

India to Promote Planned Urbanization to Enhance Quality of Life

Gandhinagar: Urban centres are the drivers of growth. Cities play a crucial role in developing and delivering effective social policies. The city systems and service delivery mechanisms are under mounting environmental, social and economic pressures. To make our cities smart and smarter is a prime necessity today, not only to enhance livability but to also create more growth opportunities for our youth. With this vision, Urban Development & Urban Housing Department of the Government of Gujarat organized a Seminar on Smart Cities for Next Generation as a part of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2015, currently underway at Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The gathering was addressed by Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister for Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty. He said that, “Smart cities should be all inclusive and affordable at the same time.” Pushing for PPP model in smart cities, the Union Minister invited private participation, while assuring that the government would provide viable funding wherever required. Mr Mogens Jensen, Denmark Minister of Trade and Investment highlighted how Gujarat could save up to USD 700 million annually through correct policies and measures relating to smart cities. The forum brought global best practices and actionable solutions needed to make our cities smart, likable and livable. Speakers deliberated on 4 critical aspects of smart cities, namely smart housing, intelligent waste management, urban mobility and financing. Canada, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands were the Partner Countries and UN HABITAT, NIUA, WRI, All India Institute of Local Self Government, Canada-India Business Exchange, Good Governance Foundation, Indo-Canadian Business Chamber and University of Minnesota were the Partner Organizations of this seminar. Over 1000 delegates from 22 countries and from over 20 Indian states participated. 15 MoUs were signed during the seminar. A few key ones were: •    Finish Waste Management Consortium (FWMC) pledged cooperations in Municipal Solid Waste Management, Lake, Pond, & River Environmental Restoration. •    SDB Diamond Bourse committed to develop the world largest diamond bourse in Surat. •    IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd. proposed to set up a multi model dedicated freight corridor. Centre to Promote Planned Urbanization to Enhance Quality of Life “Speaking to in the seminar Smart Cities for the Next Generation : International Conclave of City Leaders “ on the side lines of Vibrant Gujarat in Gandhinagar today the minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Shri Venkaiyah Naidu said the in out country, we have cities and towns of different sizes and states of development and diverse characteristics. They warrant different approaches. Accordingly, 100 smart cities need to be promoted, equipping other identified cities with basic infrastructure under National Urban Development Mission, revive heritage cities under HRIDAY (Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana), ensure cleanliness in the next five years in all the 4,041 census towns under Swachh Bharat Mission, enhance livelihood opportunities in urban areas through skill development under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana and ensure decent houses under Housing for All by 2022. He added that our vision and mission for urban areas is graded and comprehensive. The minister also said that our smart cities shall be financially and ecologically sustainable so that future generations are not deprived of their right to quality living. The full text of Minsiters Speech is encloased below : “Friends ! I am indeed delighted to be with you all today. This gives me an opportunity to present a brief account of what is in store for all of us on the canvas of ‘new urban India’ that we seek to build. All roads are now leading to India as a ‘Resurgent India’ unfolds under the dynamic leadership of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. Of course, this journey is through Vibrant Gujarat. Gujarat has an unique place in the making of India. It gave us Gandhi ji, Sardar Patel and Shri Narendra Modi, to name some of the illustrious sons of our motherland. This state is known for its entrepreneurship, creativity and new ideas which  have significantly contributed to the nation building. This is my second visit to Gujarat in three days. The other day, it was a sentimental encounter with over 4,000 Pravasi Bharatiyas who came here to renew their bonds with the land of their origin. Today, we are here to feel the vibrancy of Gujarat, for which, the seeds were sown by our Prime Minister, when he was the Chief Minister of this state. Gujarat has embarked on the path of rapid growth and development under shri Modi. The Gujarat Model is now the flavor of the country and is being emulated by other states. After several decades of ideological wars on the right model of socio-economic development, the predominant philosophy that has now come to prevail is ‘welfare through economic growth and development’. Economic development unfolds opportunities to all sections of the aspirants. Our Prime Minister is committed to ‘inclusive growth’. Nothing could be more inclusive than the slogan of our Prime Minister, which being –‘Sab ka saath : Sab ka vikas’. Yesterday, all of you heard our Prime Minister unveil his vision of ‘transforming India’ and its broad contours. I don’t have to further elaborate on what is being done to unveil a Resurgent India. Friends ! I also handle Parliamentary Affairs. In that capacity, I would like to briefly share with all of you as to what we have being doing to vindicate our commitment to remove hurdles in the way of economic recovery. Investors both within and outside India have been led to despair over the event of last few years. They were marked by drift, lack of direction and intent, policy paralysis etc. As a result, we have lost valuable time. Economy was on the slide. Opportunities of personal advancement for the aspirants of Young India have vanished in thin air. As a result, there was a sense of despondency among the people. This was the context in which the last elections to the Lok Sabha were held. People of this country rallied behind Shri Narendra Modi as they saw a ‘Leader’ in him who could lead them and help them meet their aspirations. Our government does not have the luxury of doing things leisurely. We have to move fast in the direction of course correction. In Parliamentary democracy, legislative action is the best way of conveying our intent. We were keen to move on with some important legislations in the Parliament. Our first Budget session went off well and was widely welcomed. But during the recent winter session, dynamics of numbers in the Upper House i.e Rajya Sabha unfolded in a way that should have been avoided. Our government was clearly under scrutiny both from within and outside. The state of our national economy needed quick action. As I said earlier, our country did not have the luxury time and leisurely action. In such an imperative context, we had to come out with Ordinances, which have the power of the Law of Parliament on critical issues like auctioning of coal blocks, increasing FDI in insurance sector, enabling land acquisition with reduced transactional and opportunity costs without compromising the interests of land owners etc. These ordinances were primarily to convey our commitment to enhance investment climate in the country and improve ‘ease of doing business’, essential for reviving the economy. Ordinances are extra-ordinary instruments of legislations. We had to take this route because we are passing through extra-ordinary times and situations. Let me assure you all that in our country there is a broad consensus on nurturing economic reforms that are being undertaken on a large scale since 1991. Politics may generate some heat certain times. But at the end of it, national interests prevail. We have the responsibility of talking it out with our friends in the opposition. I am confident that all such Ordinances will be replaced by Acts of Parliament in the coming Budget session of Parliament. Friends ! I would now like to give you all an account of what we intend to do in the urban development sector with special reference to building of smart cities and other initiatives. As per 2011 Census, 377 million Indians, accounting for 31% of total population live in urban areas. We have over 7,900 urban habitations, out of which 4,041 are Census towns. About 63% of our GDP comes from urban areas. The largest 100 cities, comprising of 16% of our population and only 0.24% of land area, account for 43% of GDP. Globally, about 80% of GDP is generated in urban areas. This goes to prove the intrinsic linkages between urbanization and economic growth. Accordingly, we are looking at urbanization as an opportunity to be harnessed in the larger interest. Studies have also established that while urbanization is slow till it reaches 30%, it will be quicker till it reaches 60%. We are at this inflection point. We want to seize this opportunity. Because of ‘pull and push’ factors of migration, urbanization in our country has been haphazard on our country. We are keen to promote planned urbanization to enhance the quality of urban life to enable fullest expression of inherent and creative energies of countrymen. This is a challenging task. Nevertheless, we are committed to ‘walk the talk’. In our country, we have cities and towns of different sizes and states of development and diverse characteristics. They warrant different approaches. Accordingly, we want to promote emergence of 100 smart cities, equipping other identified cities with basic infrastructure under National Urban Development Mission, revive heritage cities under HRIDAY (Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana), ensure cleanliness in the next five years in all the 4,041 census towns under Swachh Bharat Mission, enhance livelihood opportunities in urban areas through skill development under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana and ensure decent houses under Housing for All by 2022. Accordingly, our vision and mission for urban areas is graded and comprehensive. Smart Cities In recent times, no other scheme or idea has stirred the imagination of the people as much as smart cities initiative, ever since it was first mentioned by our leader Shri Narendra Modi, during Lok Sabha election campaign. It is an idea whose time has come in our county and can not be stopped. Literature on smart cities has different definitions. We are keen to have own version of smart cities keeping in view the contemporary problems in urban areas and emerging challenges like reducing carbon emissions. Contemporary issues in urban areas being – urban mobility problems, inadequate water and power supply, solid waste management, sanitation,  lack of equity in access to resources like land and public spaces, shrinking availability of land and above all, poor urban governance. Urban areas being the seat of industrial, business and other economic activities and coupled with high density of population, reducing adverse impact on environment through rising pollution and carbon emissions is the major emerging challenge. All those living in urban areas and in particular, the young, just born and still to be borne have a fundamental right to a clean environment. Youth and still to be borne also have a right to livelihood opportunities in urban areas. This is particularly so because urban areas are seen as islands of opportunities. It is in this context that our smart cities have a futuristic dimension. Broadly, under smart cities initiative is to strengthen physical, social, economic and  institutional infrastructure for better living. In other words, we intend to promote ‘walk to work living’, use of public transport instead of private transport, easy access to  educational, health and recreational facilities, 24 x 7 water and power supply, cleanliness,  participatory, citizen centric and responsive governance through adoption of ICT platforms, reduced energy consumption etc. In nutshell, our smart cities shall be financially and ecologically sustainable so that future generations are not deprived of their right to quality living. I know, it is easier said than done. In my view, what is more fundamental to better urban planning and management is ‘smart leadership’. We need leadership in urban areas who can adopt realistic approach towards collection of taxes and recovery of cost of utilities and ensure effective urban governance. Being aware of the magnitude of the challenge of ensuring a turn around in our urban planning and governance to make urban areas as growth engines, soon after assuming office, I have convened a National Conclave of Urban Development Ministers. After two days of intense deliberations, for the first time, a National Declaration was adopted under which states have committed to implement a set of 25 identified urban reforms. Further to the exhortations of our Prime Minister on converting growing urbanisatioin into an economic opportunity, a new consciousness has just begun to take roots. We need to take this forward to realize desired outcomes. Smart cities do not just mean building sky scrapers, constructing glossy buildings and constructing wide roads for private vehicles to zoom up and down. On the other hand, we need to usher in new mindsets and governance approaches for better management of limited resources to realize ‘inclusivity’ and ‘sustainability’. In my view, a smart city is not one where in everyone prefers to own a car but one where even a car owner prefers to use public transport. In Barcelona, over 80% use public transport while in Atlanta, it is the reverse. With similar population size, adverse impacts of Atlanta on environment are five times that of Barcelona. Regarding operational principles of building smart cities, we are looking at different ways of doing so. One is Retrofitting. Under this, infrastructure deficiencies will be addressed, like building and widening of roads, laying water and electricity lines, providing public spaces, promoting cycling, replacing halogen lights with LED bulbs, promoting solid waste management etc. The second way is Redevelopment under which identified areas would be rebuilt when the existing conditions are just not amenable to improvement through retrofitting. The third component being building new cities like the GIFT city and Dholera smart city in Gujarat. Friends ! Now, the crucial issue of financing. A High Powered Committee set up by the government has estimated that an investment of Rs.40 lakh crores would be needed over the next 20 years to provide basic infrastructure in urban areas. In addition, about Rs.20 lakh crores will be required for Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of urban assets and utilities over the same period. So, a minimum of Rs.60 lakh crores investment is required in urban infrastructure sector. This is of the order of US $ 952 billions. To meet smart city needs like e-governance structures and round the clock water and power supply, it would be even more. This order of investments can not certainly be possible with government resources. Hence, we intend to promote domestic and foreign private investments through Public-Private Partnership route. Accordingly, building a new urban India offers immense investment opportunities. The government is committed to do the needful to enable the flow of such a huge order of investments. With cities and states becoming competitive to invite investments, I am hopeful that together we can make it happen. I will be too happy to receive any suggestions on this from this august gathering. To transform India, we have to transform our urban areas. We can’t miss this opportunity. Let us walk together to realize India of the dream of Shri Narendra Modi which is also the dream of every Indian. I thank the organizers of this Vibrant Gujarat Summit for giving me this opportunity of sharing my thoughts with you all. “

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.

Check Also

India moves towards a cleaner and more fuel-efficient economy

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today interacted with oil and gas CEOs and experts …