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AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission and Housing for All to rejuvenate urban infrastructure

Jul 1, 2015 10:00 IST

Urban rejuvenation or renewal calls for re-organizing the urban clusters where the infrastructure has far outlived its extent and is almost bursting at seams. The concept of urban rejuvenation has been used in many of the leading cities of world like Hong Kong, Singapore etc.

Urban rejuvenation or re-development or renewal, requires formation of authorities to carry out the 'large-scale redevelopment of urban areas, rather than piecemeal rebuilding of individual buildings or the provision of specific facilities'. In other words the buildings which were older than certain age were pulled down and new infrastructure was created which catered to the needs of the changed time.

Politically sensitive and requiring extreme transparency along with faith of the community in the system implementing it, it was repackaged in our context in India 10 years back with the launch of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in December 2005 by the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

However, JNNURM has not lived up to the outcome of ‘urban renewal’ in any locality in India. The only visible outcome of JNNURM has been its low-floor AC or Non-AC buses plying in the city.

The High Powered Expert Committee for Investment in Urban Infrastructure found in a 2011 report that the JNNURM had not delivered either the required investment or service improvements. In 2012, the Comptroller Auditor General declared it a ‘failure’, detailing under-used, unspent funding (particularly for the poorest wards), unmet reforms (even on paper) and projects rarely completed (8.9 per cent overall).

It is to stem the loopholes in JNNURM, the BJP-led NDA government announced in 2014 to replace JNNURM with a new mission with a focus on GIS-based planning and waste management. As a result, these three schemes were envisaged and launched.

Conceptually these schemes sound effective but these three different urban renewal schemes need to be closely integrated in order to work well. Any city aspiring for the fundamental aspects of urban infrastructure and living has to leverage all these schemes in some way or the other. Besides, budgetary outlays are not adequate and state governments need to contribute generously.

Read More about AMRUT, Smart Cities and Housing for All (Urban) missions

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