AIR spotlight summary on “New initiative for Housing and Urban Development”

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AIR spotlight summary on “New initiative for Housing and Urban Development”


 

Introduction

The sixth Asia Pacific ministerial conference on housing and urban development was concluded in New Delhi. 68 Asia Pacific countries participated and they all resolved to adopt urban class approach to take planning beyond city limits. The conference also adopted New Delhi declaration and implementation plan calling for national human settlement policy to be adopted across all the countries. 

Significance of the implementation plan

  • Asia Pacific region is home to nearly 55% of world’s urban population. 1 billion live in slums and accounts for 75 % of global fatalities due to Natural disasters and many socio economic structures. 
  • The plan has much significance. They have recommended land regulation policy mechanism such as land pooling to ensure inclusive and participatory planning. They have announced the integration of land use and Transportation planning across defined boundaries of cities and mixed land use. These reforms would go a long way for the urbanization in the whole region. 
  • They will link peripheries and far away areas in such a manner that they are totally boundary less. This will be useful for the industry and for the common man in coming times. 
  • Minister for housing and urban poverty alleviation and urban development emphasised on how planning urban and adjoining rural areas should be taken in an integrated manner.

Highlights of the Conference

  • The conference noted that cities are expanding rapidly in the entire Asia Pacific region which is home to 10 of the 15 larger cities in the world including 3 of the largest cities of the world including Tokyo, shanghai and New Delhi.
  • The concern expressed by the conference was that much of the urban development is taking place along the transport corridors and along the big cities.This is the major structural problem we are facing in Indian economy from 1980s when the level of urbanization was 26% and during the last 35 years we were able to increase the urbanization by 6 to 7% points. Other countries in Asia like China was also in the same level in 1980s, but now it is at 52% level. Many metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi etc are facing pressure because employment opportunities, good transportation facilities and businesses facilities are always lying in the big cities in India.

 

Smart Cities and Poverty Alleviation

 

  • Smart cities are majorly for the common man and for the poor. Even when the income levels are increasing still there are down trodden sections where the fruits of the economic growth are not reaching. Smart cities are plans to percolate the benefits of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation and growth of the economy towards the down trodden. They will be benefitted by affordable housing, urban infrastructure, and modern facilities in education, health and in day to day socio economic life, employment opportunities and skill development. These initiatives lead to poverty eradication. It’s a win-win situation for eradicating poverty and upgrading the standards of living of the people.
  • Poverty eradication is not by numbers. Poverty eradication should also result in Upgradation of the socio economic structure and Upgradation of the standards of living of the people.  

 

Good Governance

 

  • The Enforcement and timely execution of infrastructure is the focus on governance. Governance is very much important for urbanization and for the adoption of whole criteria for the development of cities and linking cities with villages.
  • Good governance is as important as equity, economy and environment in ensuring sustainable development. Equity, economy and environment are more of measurable terms whereas good governance is subjective. Different states have different political differentiation and preferences. When we are progressing towards major reforms and if are not able to percolate the benefits of good reforms to the down trodden then there is no impact of the good policy environment.
  • With the good governance we have opportunities to provide benefits of the progressive reforms towards the grass root level.

Concerns / Challenges

  • 70% of population is still in the rural areas. This is the major cause we are not able to expand the trajectories of urbanization and not able to link the villages with the urban areas.  That is the reason the fruits of economy is not going to the downtrodden. 
  • Because of lack of urbanization we are not able to provide good facilities at the grass root level like education, health and so many socio economic parameters. If urbanization is expanded the fruits of development will also go to the common man.
  • As the implementation plan has suggested we should be looking at Land pooling as the solution for land acquisition. This has not taken place and reasons for it one being multiplicity of authority.  
  • Population and modernisation is expanding in India. Basic infrastructure required like roads, ports etc for the expansion of industries or socio economic structures are not present.

Need of the Hour

  • The objectives of new urban agenda in India should be integrated urban policies. These should be in line with cooperative federalism and eliminating barriers to the flow of capital.
  • The role of states will be very crucial. The socio economic policies like Land acquisition, reforms in the labour laws, implementation of GST and all the new economic reforms are happening with the help of states only.
  • States will play a major role in the implementation and formulation of policy environment which is related to land acquisition for industry and land pooling for urbanisation.
  • In planned cities we can provide better facilities to tackle natural disasters. Adopt good practices and know-how from the advanced countries like Japan which faces so many natural calamities. They have good disaster management facilities.
  • We need to evolve an implementation plan for the next 20 years. Focus on urbanisation in a good and better manner through policy formulation.

Conclusion

In the last two years the government has taken initiatives to improve planning, improve managerial capabilities of city governments in India by promoting E-governance, capacity building, enhancement of resource base of cities and other initiatives under different urban missions. It now remains to be seen how the plans are executed and with the plans concluded by the Asia-pacific countries, how India will also ensure proper urban development in the future.