Team Manmohan’s vote of thanks for urban India | india | Hindustan Times
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Team Manmohan’s vote of thanks for urban India

Urban india never had it so good. Fresh from its poll success in urban areas — once considered BJP strongholds — the UPA government has thanked the constituency by hiking budgetary allocations for cities, reports Vikas Pathak. See popup

india Updated: Jul 07, 2009 02:45 IST
Vikas Pathak

Urban india never had it so good. Fresh from its poll success in urban areas — once considered BJP strongholds — the UPA government has thanked the constituency by hiking budgetary allocations for cities.

Cities house about 30 per cent of country’s population but account for around 62 per cent of the GDP.

The Centre’s flagship urban development scheme Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) — launched in 2005 in 65 cities and now being extended to 28 more — has been allocated Rs 12,887 crore, an 87 per cent hike over last year’s Rs 6,866 crore.

An additional Rs 6,000 crore will thus be available for these cities to redevelop congested inner areas and improve water supply, sewerage, sanitation, roads, transport and solid waste management facilities.

Also, Rs 3,973 crore have been allocated for housing and basic amenities for the urban poor under a new scheme — Rajiv Awas Yojana — to make India slum-free.

The scheme was first announced in the President’s address to Parliament. It promises to fund states but on the condition that they give slum dwellers rights to the property they are living in. The Centre will partially fund building of houses, roads, etc in the area.

Urban development is a state subject, but the Centre has been showing increased interest in bankrolling it.

The reasons are many. Urban India voted heavily for the Congress and the government is keen to nurture the constituency.

Political scientist Yogendra Yadav’s National Election Study has shown that the UPA won 34 of the 57 major urban constituencies in the recent Lok Sabha polls. The NDA was successful in only 19.

The UPA won 81 of the 144 semi-urban constituencies against NDA’s 39.

The only two metro cities where the BJP did well were Ahmedabad in Gujarat and Bangalore in Karnataka. In both the states, the BJP is in power.

Moreover, cities’ population is expected to see a steady rise — half of the country’s population will be urban by 2030, and will drive the growth story.

Planned growth of cities is a must to provide for such large numbers.

One in four urban Indians lives in slums, varying from Mumbai’s 50 per cent slum population to Patna’s 0.3 per cent.

Urban India is short of 24.7 million houses, 99 per cent of the shortage affects the poor.

But, our cities are not being able to accommodate as many people as they should.

“India’s rate of growth of urbanisation has decreased from 3.9 per cent in the 1970s to just 2.7 per cent between 1991-2001,” JNU professor Amitabh Kundu, an expert on urbanisation, told HT.

Putting this rate back on track is crucial to industrialise and make the transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy — common to all developed economies in the world.

While welcoming the increased allocations, Kundu said the key to success will be the benefits reaching the urban poor.