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India's Urban Evolution: Past, Present, and Future Prospects



  Dec 22, 2023

Evaluating India’s Urban Development: History, Current Content, and Proposed Improvements



Historical Context of Urban Development in India:

1. Initial Challenges:
India’s cities have long faced recurring issues such as floods, air pollution, sanitation, housing for the urban poor, public safety, water scarcity, and traffic congestion.

2. Government Initiatives:
Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in government investment in urban projects, with a 488% rise in funding between 2009-10 and 2021-22.

3. Flagship Schemes:
Programs like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, AMRUT, Swachh Bharat Mission, and Smart Cities Mission have been instrumental.

Current State of Urban Development:

1. Infrastructure Improvements:
Construction of houses and toilets, establishment of faecal sludge treatment plants, expansion of household-level water supply, and development of metro rail networks.

2. Social Initiatives:
Empowerment of women through self-help groups and urban employment guarantee schemes.

3. Challenges:
Despite these efforts, issues of governance, service delivery, and rapid urbanization persist, outpacing the development efforts.

Proposed Improvements:

1. Robust City Systems:
Need for systems and institutions at the city level capable of delivering responsive governance.

2. Empowering Municipalities:
Transforming municipalities from implementation agencies to autonomous governance bodies with political accountability.

3. Instruments of Change:

Development of spatial plans based on modern state spatial planning laws.
Implementation of mandatory design standards for streets and public spaces.
Full implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act for empowering urban local bodies.
Establishment of metropolitan governance for million-plus cities.
Modernization of municipal acts and city councils.
Incorporation of civic technology for improved communication and transparency.
Reforms in municipal taxation and financial management.
Utilization of long-term capital through municipal borrowings.
Implementation of digital public finance management systems.
Addressing the shortage of skilled staff in municipalities.
Conclusion:
There is need for transformative changes in India’s urban governance. Despite significant investments and initiatives, the rapid pace of urbanization and emerging new challenges necessitate a comprehensive overhaul of city governance systems. Implementing these proposed improvements could lead to a significant positive impact on the quality of life in Indian cities.

SRIRAM’s


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