The Thirteenth Finance Commission's recommendations have far reaching significance for strengthening municipal finances and governance in India. The Commission substantially increased the allocations to urban local bodies and divided the grants into two components - general basic grant and general performance grant. The former can be accessed by all the local bodies and the latter only by those who comply with the nine conditions relating to constitution of property tax board, establishment of local body Ombudsman, strengthening state finance commissions, accounting and audit reforms, service level improvements through benchmarking, etc., stipulated by the Commission. The authors examined some critical aspects related to operationalisation of recommendations like absence of mechanisms to ensure compliance of recommendations at state and local levels, autonomy of local bodies, absence of adequate funding to improve service delivery, capacity building needs etc. They feel that both future central finance commissions and state finance commissions would take a leaf from the 13th FC recommendations and link grants to improved urban governance. The authors argue that the implementation of the conditions/reforms suggested would strengthen the urban governance framework and moves towards good urban governance.
The challenge of urbanization in India in the 21st century is unprecedented. Urban population has rapidly increased in recent years and the impact of this population growth has been largely adverse, with most cities and urban settlements in India, irrespective of size, being characterized by critical shortfall in housing and water supply, inadequate sewerage, traffic congestion, pollution, poverty and social unrest, thus making urban governance a difficult and onerous task. While the 'urban explosion' in India is a matter of concern for planners, policy makers and institutions involved in managing urban affairs, cities have emerged as the new 'engines of growth' with considerable resilience and growth potential. They play a critical in driving the transition to an inclusive, harmonious and sustainable urban development. However, Indian cities, irrespective of size continue to face critical issues and immense challenges in areas of reforms, governance, planning, finance, management and capacity building of the urban local bodies. This paper studies key issues and challenges of urbanization in India, holistically, and argues that urban development needs to recognize the vast potential of cities with pro–active reforms and appropriate policy directions.
The reform agenda under JNNURM is a culmination of many initiatives taken by the government during the past two decades for reforming the municipal system and bringing them into the country's main development stream. It has opened up an unparalleled window of opportunity for the State Governments and Urban Local Bodies to avail the Central assistance by implementing the Reform Agenda to take up urban infrastructure improvement and up gradation programmes on a sustainable basis. The endeavor, however demands that the Government of India, the State Governments and the city administrations need to work together sincerely to implement the reform agenda and provide the enabling support systems, including infrastructure and services which will help the cities and towns to realize their full potential. The paper presents situational analysis relating to the performance and progress of state governments and mission cities relating to implementation of reform agenda. Various steps taken up by the GOI for handholding the slow performing cities / states as well as the operational challenges and existing issues under JNNURM have also been presented in the article.
The Central Government is developing an ambitious Rs one lakh crore scheme to make Indian cities slum free during the next seven years. Known as Rajiv Awas Yojana, the scheme poses a huge challenge, not only in terms of finance, but more in terms of developing a fresh outlook, new ideas and innovative resources. The success of the programme is contingent upon the abandonment of conventional concepts and roles and evolving a fresh comprehensive, and participatory approach, using land and community as the major resources. The inclusive and equitable access to land, shelter and infrastructure service need to be achieved by way of the concepts of “reservations” and 'city social responsibility'. It is also necessary to redefine the 'public purpose', 'affordable shelter', 'tenure', ' land use' and' subsidy'. The cities will have to change their planning paradigm to increase the productivity, to generate jobs and to make best use of land and other resources. There is a need to adopt differential densities and development control norms for sustainable, smart and compact growth. Private sector participation in slum housing and collective community rehabilitation should be incentivized, where instead of the community expected to participate in the public sector slum housing programmes, the government authorities prepare themselves to participate in the community initiatives.
Anthropogenic drivers such as the urbanization and economic dependence have been a major force shaping urban landscapes. The history of mankind is long and diverse series of steps by which he has achieved ecological dominance. Urban area is no exception, as cities add roads, buildings, industry, and people, temperatures in the city rise relative to their rural surroundings, creating a heat island. These urban heat islands may be up to 7-12°F under optimum conditions. With increasing urban development, heat islands may increase in frequency and magnitude. Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, for example, have been approximate 1°F hotter every decade for the past 60 years. These heat islands have impacts that range from local to global scales and highlight the importance of urbanization to environmental change. These are all symptoms of the environmental crisis which is already upon us. It is not something to be vaguely concerned about as some distant future possibility but a contemporary reality. It is not a lament over the disappearing idyllic or pristine beauty, but a direct cry for survival. This paper analyses use of remote sensing and GIS techniques to identify the various land uses, their various transformations over the a period of 29 years (1980-2009) and to measure the rate of urban expansion and loss of vegetation cover in the study area.
This study forms part of a wider research concerned with understanding of the rural – urban linkages in India and developing the knowledge gaps, challenges and opportunities present in bridging the two spatial areas. There are a number of key issues for development, policy and practice. However, in this study the issues of institutional capacities, spatial dimensions and economic interdependencies have been taken up for in-depth study and analysis with experiences from both national and international levels.
Part 1 of this paper, provides some background information on the institutional, spatial and economic linkages between urban and rural areas. Part 2, discusses the constraints and opportunities present in this area in respect to the above–mentioned three dimensions. Part 3, highlights the good practices that acts as solutions to the three dimensions considering the constraints and opportunities present that can be further studied and replicated.
The paper tests the efficacy of Chandigarh Periphery Control Act 1952, amended in 1962, which was meant to retain the overwhelmingly rural character of the tract up to 16 kilometres from the project site of the city. The intention was to provide a green envelope to the city of Chandigarh and protect it from unsavoury appearance of an urban sprawl. Analysis here is based on the perusal of government documents and relevant literature, processing of the secondary data for the years 1951-2001, extensive field observations, and discussions with the stakeholders. The intended rural character of the Periphery Zone could not be conserved; it has gradually been turned into an expending modern urban sprawl. By 2001, the Zone got dotted with 12 towns/urban agglomerations as compared to four at the time of demarcation; urban area marked a sharp increase from 10 to 140 sq. km. during 1951-2001; and now a majority of the population in the Zone is residing in urban areas. This is now an irreversible process. Under the prevailing populist political culture and indifferent bureaucracy, the provisions of the Act were grossly violated not only by the people at large but equally by the government itself. In the context of the emerging scenario it may be worthwhile to go in for a new Periphery Zone around the extended urban conglomerate of Chandigarh, S.A.S. Nagar and Panchkula. The present periphery has already become a part of the core through the spatial diffusion of the urbanization process.
The rapid urbanization has led to the massive growth in the demand of physical infrastructure, which could not keep pace with the increasing size of towns and cities, resulting in straining of already scant infrastructure. There is a tacit understanding that humans are living beyond planet's means and global patterns are unsustainable. The situation seems to be alarming, as the deteriorating urban environment coupled with deprivation of basic services has led to social frustration and urban insecurity. The provision of urban infrastructure, thus, requires a careful handling at different levels. The paper reviews and analyses the availability and accessibility of water supply in Shimla city and identifies the complex problems of existing water supply and proposes viable and acceptable interventions for the improvement of water supply of Shimla.