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Tasneem F Khan**

The world has experienced a continued process of urbanization, with an ever increasing urban population that has already exceeded the number of people living in rural areas. This urbanization process will continue, particularly in the developing countries. In the next 20 years, another 1.1 billion Asians are expected to join the urban population.

As we all know, providing infrastructure and managing the service delivery systems has not matched with the growth and development of the cities in India. The high population densities, heavy traffic movements, increasing environmental pollution and large poor population makes it difficult for the cities to deliver cost-effective, quality services to its citizens including the slum dwellers. Therefore, a plan of action having the right policies, programmes and projects of urbanization is the need of the hour for integrated development of urban areas in a sustainable, equitable, humane and inclusive manner.

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched by the Government in December 2005 is one such programme which tries to address the long felt need of cities and towns to augment infrastructure facilities to the people including those living in slums and poor localities in a holistic manner. It promotes participation, accountability, transparency, equity and efficiency in civic administration and a move towards a regime of effective local self-government that is centered around the people. Within a period of three and half years, the pace of implementation of the mission has significantly picked-up, with the utilization of funds having doubled in the last financial year, as compared to the previous year. So far combined Additional Central Assistance (ACA) committed for sub mission 1 (UIG +UIDSSMT) is Rs.33,885 crore.

JNNURM has created a profound impact on urban landscapes nationwide through several reforms in infrastructure, urban services, and governance. As far as the reforms are concerned, 50% of Urban Local Bodies (ULB) reforms have been achieved, while 56% of the state level reforms committed upto four years have been achieved. Other reform initiatives of the Mission such as ‘Enactment of Community Participation Law and Public Disclosure Law’ have been accepted by the states in their endeavor to ensure transparency and inclusiveness. However, the setting up of District Planning Committees and the Metropolitan Committees has to be expedited.

Parallel Initiatives to Sustain Mission Activities

Capacity Building

The Ministry of Urban Development is assisting cities and states to set up programme management units and project implementation unit to aid them in implementation of projects and reforms under JNNURM. The Mission Directorate has also undertaken training programmes for orientation of municipal staff and elected representatives. Mission cities are also encouraged to network among themselves to enable them to exchange innovative ideas, good practices, and to learn from one another’s experiences. The ministry has also initiated Capacity Building Scheme for Urban Local Bodies to enable setting up of Centres of Excellence, addressing specific gaps in Urban Planning, preparation of City Development plans, implementation of property tax and accounting reforms, e-governance, etc.

Benchmarking of Urban Services

The Ministry has established standardized service level indicators for four basic urban services (Water Supply, Sewerage, Solid Waste Management and Storm Water Drainage) for enabling cities to monitor, manage and improve their service delivery performance for basic services, comprehensive set of guidelines with indicators (covering access to service, quality & reliability of service, cost effectiveness) a framework for data collection, collation and analysis, as well as a reporting mechanism and benchmarks, has been prepared and circulated among cities. The cities are expected to keep the Benchmarks in view while implementing projects under the mission. The obligation under the Public Disclosure Law must be used to keep the citizenry informed about the achievements against the benchmarks set.

National Mission Mode Project

National Mission Mode Project (NMMP) on e-Governance in municipalities is being implemented under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) of the Government. The programme is being implemented in 35 mission cities across 15 States with more than a million population on pilot basis. The services covered for e-Governance reforms at the State/ULB level under the scheme include: Registration and issue of Birth & Death certificate, Payment of Property Tax & utility bills, Citizen Grievances, Building plan approvals, e-Procurements and monitoring of projects, Health, Licenses, Solid Waste Management, Accounting System and Personal Information System.

Peer Experience and Reflective Learning (PEARL)

In order to further the capacity development of ULB and to facilitate cross learning from each other’s experience, PEARL has been launched. It involves grouping of similarly situated ULBs for facilitating their interactions and across learning. National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) is the National Coordinator for PEARL and will document various best practices related to project development, financing and construction as well as reforms under JNNURM. Documentation will be disseminated through the web site, newsletter and Regional and National workshops.

Credit Rating of Urban Local Bodies

The financial requirement for funding urban infrastructure is significant and it is recognized that public funding alone will not be sufficient. In order to facilitate leveraging of debt for urban infrastructure projects, Credit Rating of ULBs has been undertaken, 59 ULBs in the Mission cities have been assigned draft ratings of which 36 ULBs have investment grade ratings. Four regional rating workshops have been conducted so far to facilitate the dissemination of ratings and initiate a dialogue between the ULBs and financial institutions.

National Urban Sanitation Policy

The Government has launched the National Sanitation Policy to make all Indian cities and towns totally sanitized, healthy and livable and ensure and sustain good public health and environmental outcomes for all the citizens, with a special focus on hygienic and affordable sanitation facilities for the urban poor and women. The cities are expected to prepare City Sanitation Plans and implement the same.


The Ministry is encouraging Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) which are critical for up-scaling development of infrastructure in India particularly for leveraging additional investments for the urban sector. The benefits of PPP can now be gauged by the successes achieved in roads and transportation sector. 44 of the 65 mission cities are reported to have under taken project with Private Sector participation either through simple service and management contracts to increasingly complex performance-based management contracts asset leases, concessions and asset divestitures. As a part of the mission, PPP initiatives have been taken up by Indore, Vadodara, Pune and Ahmedabad for establishing City Bus Service.

Urban Transport

The Ministry is committed towards improving the levels of urban public transport. Providing metro rail systems is not feasible in small cities. Learning from experience of other countries the Ministry has tried to encourage use of low floor buses which provide the metro experience in terms of comfort, efficiency and punctuality, at fraction of the capital cost. Approximately 11 % of the sanctions under JNNURM have been towards improving public transport systems in the Mission cities. In addition, as part of the economic stimulus package, the Ministry has provided funds for purchase of buses for the urban transport system. In some States buses have started plying on the roads.

With these initiatives aiming at transforming the lives of people by making cities more healthy, livable, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable, the Ministry will certainly be able to meet the challenges of urbanization.

*Media & Communication Officer, PIB, New Delhi




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