Liveability ranking will drive up investments in cities, improve infrastructure: Hardeep Singh Puri
India’s first Ease of Living Index was released on Monday. In an interview to Moushumi Das Gupta, Union minister of state (independent charge) of housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri spoke about what it means for cities and why it is important.
What challenges did the ministry face while assessing cities considering this is the first time the government has come up with a liveability ranking?
We did not face any challenges, but whenever you start something new and innovative you have to deal with the existing reality where you are dependent on a large number of local bodies for data. Now, many people think this is intrusive.
The good thing is that we faced much lesser resistance than we expected. I’m convinced that this will have a very positive demonstrative effect and a lot of people will realise the importance of this kind of data.
In order for you to enjoy a higher ease of living, you have to have city-level data related to governance, economic health, social and physical infrastructure.
Will the ministry institutionalise the liveability index?
It’s not a one-time exercise. From now on, we will have it every year. This will help in critical analysis of the state of urban services in our cities.
New Delhi is ranked 65 while Mumbai is ranked 2. Your comments.
When you talk of improvement it has to be in relation to something. This is the first such index, which in many ways will be the template. With this index, now there will be a baseline.
When I was a textile negotiator (for India at the World Trade Organisation) I was told there is a 500% growth. The first question I asked was, as compared to what? What was your base level?
What this survey is going to do is to ensure there is a base level. And this is where Delhi is very lucky. Because the 65 ranking will become the baseline. From here you can only go up. So in some ways, they (Delhi) have benefitted from this.
How does such a ranking help the city?
The most precious thing in any country’s existence is the value of land and civic infrastructure.
We have a population of 1.2 billion. Many people will invest (in land). A lot of people are retiring…they think ‘I want to settle in so and so place after I retire’. They will invest in land in a city where the ease of living is high. This is very fundamental and this is where the index will help.
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