Q) Discuss the challenges that India faces in transforming the urban landscape into sustainably developed cities and Towns. (150 Words)
Source: The Indian Express: The Ideas Page: Moving to a new city
Topic: GS 3: Urbanization, their problems and their remedies.
Introduction: According to the2011 Census, 68.84% Population lives in villages and 31% in urban areas. However by By 2030, almost 600mn Indians or 40% of India's population will live in Indian cities and would contribute 75% of the GVA of the country. By 2050, about 800mn people will live in cities, i.e. 50% of the population.
This makes urbanization as the foremost essential development goal for India. We need to construct urban spaces for double the existing capacity by 2030. This provides a lot of challenges.
Challenges faced by Indian in transforming urban landscape:
1. Huge numbers of sectors for development:
i. Unplanned development and development of slums.
ii. Congestion /Poor Urban transport.
iii. Lack of open spaces / Pollution.
iv. Sewerage management / solid waste management is poor.
v. Basic services : Electricity / water supply.
2. Financial condition of Urban Local Bodies(ULBs): The Economic survey of 2016-17 shows the poor tax collection by ULBs. Some states have not even allowed the municipalities to levy property taxes.
3. Limitations on Borrowing by ULBs: The ULBs are allowed to issue bonds only in certain conditions.
4. A Huge number of underdeveloped Municipalities: There are about 3900 Municipalities with 33% of urban population in India.
5. Huge diversity in urban landscape(from Megacities to Nagar Panchayats) - making implementation of a universal policy a challenge.
6. Overall Poverty: This makes tax collection difficult and also makes it necessary to invest an extra amount in making the landscape inclusive.
7. Lack of Private investment: The private player participation is low in urban development due to greater emphasis on public spending.
8. Poor Citizen participation: The voters' interest in the local area development has remained low. This shows in the lower voter turnout in the local elections.
Possible solutions to this problem:
1. Increasing the fund allocation for Urban local bodies in the distribution of taxes.
2. Increasing borrowing limit for the Urban local bodies.
3. Leaving one-size-fit-all approach. Government has launched various schemes such as Smart Cities mission, AMRUT etc for different sizes of cities keeping this in mind.
4. Digitalization: not only in citizen-friendly governance, but also a common ditigal platform for accounts, giving a consolidated view for sectorial outlays,
5. Leveraging other schemes such as in Efficient urban mobility and public transport and Affordable housing. For example Government can use PM Awas Yojana, Swachh bharat Abhiyan to initiate greenfield Urban projects.
6. Promoting mixed land use for efficient usage of land.
Conclusion: The government recognizes the importance of urbanization and has been pushing its flagship schemes such as Smart Cities mission, AMRUT, PM Awas Yojana, Swachh bharat Abhiyan etc in this direction. This would also help us to achieve the 11th Sustainable development goal which mandates to "make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".