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SANSAD TV: ASSEMBLY DEBATE- URBAN PLANNING & CHALLENGES

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Introduction:

India has witnessed rapid urbanisation in recent years. Over 34% of our population is currently living in cities. By 2050, this number is projected to cross 50%.

Drawbacks of Current model of urbanization:

  • The new Indian urban landscape is being designed around grand concepts such as smart cities and export-oriented industrial corridors.
  • Cities are built mostly on economic terms without considering or less importance to cultural and recreational aspects of human beings.
  • The cities do not cater for environmental disasters.
  • Currently, India’s ongoing urbanisation offers little opportunity for inclusion of its disadvantaged populations.
  • There is a growing phenomenon of ‘sons of soil’ or ‘outsider’ based abuse.
  • Politicisation of India’s urban spaces — often for so-called ‘vote-bank populism’ — is creating exclusionary barriers for new migrants.
  • Multiple jurisdictions, weak revenue base and human resource capacity deficit.

Urbanisation and Economic Growth:

  • There are strong correlations between urbanisation and economic growth.
  • Urbanisation could generate millions of jobs for the growing youth population.
  • Productivity increases when rural farmers become urban factory workers, as has happened most spectacularly in China.
  • Between 1978 and 2018, China’s urbanisation rate jumped up from 18% to 58%.
  • In the process, over 500 million people were lifted out of poverty and the country attained middle income status.
  • India’s present level of urbanisation (34%) is far lower than China (58%) or even Indonesia (55%).
  • Naturally, there is huge scope for growth.

Centre-State Coordination:

  • Since majority of city-related issues are state subjects, states must take the lead in order to make cities vibrant economic centres.
  • Sustainable urban development needs to be led by the central government working closely with state and local governments.
  • For effective implementation of the urbanisation roadmap, the Centre should take the lead to sensitise states and encourage them to frame their own urban policies.
  • The state policies could then be plugged into the overarching national framework.

Negative Impacts:

  • Urban population explosion has come with its own set of evils.
  • Metros like Bengaluru, once known for its expansive lakes, are set to face extreme water stress in the future.
  • Lakes are encroached for illegal buildings like high rise apartments, commercial building, and slum.
  • Cities are flooded during monsoon and after that we see a period of drought.
  • The environment has been the casualty.
  • Noise Pollution, Air Pollution and Water Scarcity.
  • Environmental pollution caused by daily hour-long traffic jams on a 10-km stretch causes more harm to the environment.
  • Long term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) contributed to 42 lakh premature deaths in 2015 in the whole world out of which India and China together shared 52%.
  • Water scarcity has often led to riots among common people in slums and undeveloped colonies where population density is very high.
  • Recent study found that adults living in urban areas, as well as those with a higher household wealth or education, tended to have a higher Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) risk.

Concerns:

  • In Indian cities, there is lack of basic infrastructure and a deteriorating quality of life.
  • India spends about $17 per capita annually on urban infrastructure projects, against a global benchmark of $100 and China’s $116.
  • Indian cities face challenges in terms of governance and sustainability.
  • The poverty and social isolation of minority groups in cities.
  • With rapid urbanization, these problems are going to aggravate, and can cumulatively pose a challenge to India’s growth trajectory.
  • Urban institutions also suffer from shortage of skilled people.
  • Poor collection of property taxes. Jaipur and Bengaluru collect only 5-20% of their potential property tax.

Smart Cities:

  • In the budget, 2014, it was projected for ‘one hundred Smart cities’, as satellite towns of larger cities and modernizing the existing mid- sized cities. Though there is no clear definition of smart cities, it may include creative, cyber, digital, e-governed, entrepreneurial, intelligent, knowledge, harnessing the power of Information and communication technology (ICT). Smartness has to be there with respect to governance and service delivery.

Its feature can be :-

e-governance (through Digital India initiative, National e-governance plan, National Optical fiber network, e- panchayat project of MRD)

  • Continuous improvements in design and management
  • Climate oriented development
  • Mass transit oriented development
  • People centric technological applications (m-health, e- learning )
  • Planning can be bottom up for future urbanization
  • Smart PDS rationing
  • Social inclusive and economically diverse.

Creating Urban Infrastructure:

  • Not creating essential urban infrastructure will lead to a deteriorating quality of life.
  • With large-scale migration to the cities, we must focus on making our cities economically viable and environmentally sustainable.
  • Investing in our urban infrastructure will lead to enhanced economic activity.
  • It will result in large-scale employment generation and an improved quality of life.
  • This is a much-desired socioeconomic outcome in a young nation where the majority of urban migrants are youth.
  • We also need to work hard to ensure that our urban infrastructure causes least harm to the environment.