New urbanisation policy to be finalised in 2 months
The policy comes exactly three decades after the National Commission on Urbanisation, headed by planner Charles Correa, came up with a roadmap on tackling growth in small and mid-sized cities.Updated: Mar 27, 2018 19:28 IST
A fresh urbanisation policy pivoting on 10 principles that focus on designing cities around people and imbuing them with a local flavour is likely to be introduced in the near future, replacing a three-decade-old framework.
A draft of key ideas termed as ‘urban sutras’ for the National Urban Policy Framework 2018 states that cities should be built around clusters of “human capital” instead of treating them like mere agglomerations of land use – residential, commercial and industrial – as being done currently under master plans of various cities.
The document, reviewed by Hindustan Times, also stated that most urban cities are clones of each other and marked by “generic international models”. This results in Indian cities having a uniform “architectural form, unaffected by regional diversity, geographic, culture and history”, it added.
The new urban policy framework – likely to be finalised in the next two months – will be broadly based on the ten urban sutras, a senior government official familiar with the development said. The Centre has set up a committee headed by Sameer Sharma, additional secretary with the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs, to draft the policy. Other members of the committee include Sanjeev Sanyal, principal economic advisor with the department of economic affairs, and UN-Habitat country representative Hitesh Vaidya.
The policy comes exactly three decades after the National Commission on Urbanisation, headed by planner Charles Correa, came up with a roadmap on tackling growth in small and mid-sized cities. Since then, there has been no urbanisation policy at the national level.
“The idea is to have a fluid plan that can be tweaked at regular intervals instead of one rigid master plan that nobody follows or implements, and is at the root of the urban mess in our cities,” said a committee member on the condition of anonymity.
The draft principles on which the urbanisation policy will be based further state that cities should plan for density as per location rather than type of land use. Cities should also thrive on multi-modal public transportation and leverage their human capital to become financially self-reliant, they said.
However, urban sector experts maintained that the ten principles should clearly spell out how the administration means to deal with the rapid growth of Indian cities. “The ten core principles focus on cities rather than the whole process of urbanisation, which is key to inclusive economic growth. The crucial question that needs to be addressed is: How are we planning to use urbanisation to serve the macro-economic objectives of the country while addressing local development priorities,” said professor OP Mathur, former faculty member of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
“The urban share of the total GDP was 52.6% in 2011-12. Ten years ago, it was 52%. There has been just an incremental increase. We are not using the instrument of urbanisation for economic growth,” he added.
According to Census 2011, 377 million people – or 31.1% of India’s total population – live in urban areas. Also, the country’s urban population is expected to increase from 350 million to 600 million by 2031. These facts had spurred a high-powered committee headed by economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia, tasked with estimating the investment requirements for urban infrastructure services in the country, to state that a majority of Indian cities were not ready to meet the challenges of growing urbanisation.