Naidu’s urban dream will cost India Rs 60 lakh crore and more

Urban infrastructure solutions need to be generated at local levels

GN Bureau | January 13, 2015



Urbanisation of India is unstoppable but how it should be guided in a planned manner is a challenge. India has ignored urban governance and there is hardly any accountability. Urban mobility, water supply, power shortage, solid waste management, sanitation, public spaces and shrinking availability of land are huge problems in urban India

However, these issues do not seem to stop the government from announcing grand plans. A brief picture of the government’s estimate and ambitious plan was projected by urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu on Monday in Gandhinagar.

Speaking at the seminar on ‘Smart Cities for the Next Generation: International Conclave of City Leaders’ on the side lines of Vibrant Gujarat summit Naidu said that the government’s vision and mission for urban areas is comprehensive.

But the investment for urban India is mind-numbing and the missing link is absence of financial component.

Naidu says that an investment of Rs.40 lakh crore in next 20 years is required to provide just basic infrastructure in urban areas. And for operation and maintenance additional Rs.20 lakh crore will be required. This means total investment for urban areas for next 20 years will be Rs 60 lakh crore or $ 952 billions.

According to the minister’s own admission this estimate does not include smart city e-governance, and water and power supply.

He also admitted that this kind of investment cannot be raised by the government. Naidu’s plan was to call for domestic and foreign private investments through Public-Private Partnership route.

The solution to urban India lies in local areas. Each city needs to generate its solutions and also finances to build the urban infrastructure. Local stakeholders need to be engaged in framing plans for local development, except in cities like Delhi or Mumbai which function like city-states.
 

Urban maths

As per 2011 Census, 377 million Indians or 31% of total population lives in urban areas. There are over 7,900 urban habitations and 4,041 are Census towns.

About 63% of India’s GDP comes from urban areas. The largest 100 cities, comprising of 16% of our population and only 0.24% of land area, account for 43% of GDP.

Studies have shown that while urbanisation is slow till it reaches 30%, it will be quicker till it reaches 60%.

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