Urban India 2011 | Jan - Jun

Submitted by nanda on 14 July 2014 - 3:06pm
Urbanisation and Access to Basic Amenities in India

The access to basic amenities like electricity, drinking water, toilet facility, wastewater outlet and clean fuel are critical determinants of quality of urbanisation. For example, about 13 per cent of the urban households have no access to electricity, 16 per cent have no access to safe drinking water and 27 per cent have no access to toilet facility as per 2001 census in India. This has significantly declined in 2005-06 as per National Family Health Survey-3, but still 7 per cent households have no access to electricity, 8 per cent have no access to safe drinking water and 17 per cent have no access to toilet facility in urban area. About one-fifth of urban households are also not covered by any sewer facility. This study analyses the access to basic amenities at both state and city/town levels covering 28 states, 7 union territories and about 5000 odd cities and towns. The regional disparity in the pattern of basic amenities closely follows the level of urbanisation at the state level. The states with low availability of basic amenities in urban areas are also the states with low level of urbanisation. On the other hand, access to basic amenities varies in accordance with the size categories of cities and towns except for toilet facility and sanitation.

R.B. Bhagat
Capacity Building of Urban Local Bodies for Urban Development: Some Emerging Areas for NGOs' Intervention

After the enactment of the Constitution (Seventy-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1992, Nagar Panchayats, Municipal Councils and Municipal Corp orations have been set up to implement urban policies and programme in the cities and towns. These Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in league with other urban development authorities are engaged to ameliorate the socioeconomic standards of the citizens living in the urban areas. But the experience has shown that these institutions of self government have not been successful, for varying reasons, to prepare plans for economic development and social justice and to implement the schemes in relation to the matters listed in the twelfth schedule of the Constitution. A close review of the working of the ULBs reveals that their capabilities, skills and capacities in the fields of urban planning, financial resources, local community participation and delivery of urban services can be enhanced if they work in tandem with the private sector and NGOs. The emerging areas for of ULBs with the intervention of NGOs, as discussed in this paper include urban planning, identification and selection of genuine beneficiaries under urban poverty alleviation schemes and social welfare services, imparting training to elected ULBs' representatives, maintenance of community assets, strengthening the delivery of urban services, transparency in the working of urban local governance; reinventing good urban governance and disaster management. The author cautioned that sincere partnership between NGOs and ULBs, to a great extent, depends upon mutual understanding and commitment between them to pride urban development into action.

Raj Kumar Siwach
Identifying Reforms to ease Doing Business in Indian Cities

In the current scenario of liberalised and globalised economy, the cities, to sustain, need to evolve as competitive entities. Locational advantages alone cannot any more decide the competitiveness of the cities. The acceptability of cities as base for business operations today require a multitude of aspects on which they need to present their pre-eminence. In spite of the improvements in the macroeconomic environment, the time required for starting or getting formalities cleared in running a business is perceived as very long in Indian cities. Setting up of new business enterprises is hindered by legal, administrative and bureaucratic bottlenecks, which come in the way of securing a license or getting a property registered, resulting in high cost and delays in starting a business or running it efficiently.

The present study analyses the conclusions of a recent study taken up under the aegis of World Bank on the theme of doing business and the comparativeness of the case study cities in that regard. While undertaking the exercise on a larger number of cities and also based on primary surveys, the study focuses on the best practices in the construction sector and property registration that could be adopted/adapted in other cities to improve their performance. The study shows that Bangalore is one of the few cities where time and cost of obtaining construction license as well as registering property is the least. Kolkata ranked as the most expensive city to obtain construction license and the most time-consuming city to register property whereas Trivandrum ranked as the most time-consuming city to obtain construction license and the most expensive city to register property. Under JNNURM, various cities have initiated reforms in local governance. Having linked to the reforms being undertaken by cities under the JnNURM programme, the study is contemporary in nature and would be useful for cities looking for best practices for replication to improve their performance and competitiveness.

Debolina Kundu
Revitalisation of Historic Districts in Indian Cities: Experiences, Challenges and Some Ideas for a Fresh Approach

Rapid urbanisation is bringing in its wake the urbanisation of poverty, as well as pressure on urban land and resources. In this context, the conservation and revitalisation of historic areas, often (but not exclusively) found in the central core of cities and towns, assumes great significance. Unchecked, and sometimes unplanned, economic development, combined with incoherent policy, a fragmented institutional framework, lack of political will, and limited capacities of implementing organisations, often results in the neglect and destruction of historic districts within cities. This has been seen both in the developed and the developing world. For urban planners and policy makers, historic districts embody one of the most crucial planning dilemmas – the need for growth and development, versus the imperative of conservation.

In India, conservation has traditionally focused on preservation of historic buildings and sites, and has only recently begun to embrace the idea of revitalising not just buildings but entire districts, zones, or areas within cities. Innovative approaches exist, but are yet to be replicated or scaled up. This paper explores the challenges in this process, given the urbanisation, planning and governance context in India, and suggests some ideas for achieving a more holistic, effective and sustainable revival of the historic areas in Indian towns and cities.

Shipra Narang Suri
Addressing the Crisis of the Urban Poor through Citywide Poverty Reduction Strategy Approach

The challenges before an emergent urban India today is the provision of services and employment to all, in other words, equitable access to improved living conditions and livelihood to the all its citizens. The question that looms before practicing professionals in the development sector is how to resourcefully and efficiently amalgamate the needs of the urban poor and have inclusive and well-governed cities.

The Government of India has been making efforts in this direction through implementation of various programmes and policies, the most recent being the reform driven Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). As a response to this flagship urban development programme, under the GOI-UNDP Project on National Strategy for Urban Poor, citywide Urban Poverty Reduction Strategies (UPRSs) were prepared for eleven cities. The main objective of the study was to promote integrated strategies for the urban poor with a focus on basic services, shelter and livelihoods and thereby uphold inclusive urban development. This paper begins with a synthesis of the conditions of the urban poor in eleven cities and attempts to arrive at certain guiding principles in the quest for slum free cities. It also goes on to suggest broad approaches that need to be look into while developing poverty reduction strategy for any city.

Paramita Datta Dey
Decentralised Urban Governance and its Implications for Resource Mobilization: The West Bengal Experience

The municipal governments in India have encountered increasing demographic and social pressures in recent years. The present pace of urbanization, albeit modest in nature, has been creating serious problems for the provisions of urban infrastructure in general and urban basic services in particular. The states' decrepit financial positions as well as the washy institutional fabric and weak financial health of most municipal governments exacerbate the problem. In recent years, the government's efforts, towards facilitating sustainable development of urban infrastructure in India, have culminated in the form of 74th Constitutional Amendment Act (CAA) 1992. The Act recognizes the principle of local self-government and offers the constitutional recognition to the urban local government.

Therefore, the pertinent question is how far this constitutional amendment is successful. Against this background, the paper, with the help of available secondary data, seeks to evaluate the process and progress of decentralized urban governance in West Bengal (one of the states in India with its rich history of municipal reform even before the advent of the 74th CAA) in the wake of 74th CAA in general and it's implications for resource mobilization in particular.

Soumyadip Chattopadhyay
Urban Housing in Developing Countries - A Holistic Perspective

Since the 1990's, approaches to urban housing in developing countries have shifted from special projects for low income groups to development of the housing sector as a whole. Understanding the 'whole sector' development is rarely reflected in literature. There is therefore a need for developing a holistic understanding of the diversity and complexity of urban housing. This paper conceptualizes the making of urban houses from the macro-level of principles through policies to the micro-level of practices and their outcomes as issues. It presents a holistic perspective on urban housing developed from the literature and then points to issues that are of concern for practitioners and researchers.

S. Brintha Lakshmi, L. S. Ganesh and D. Malathy
Urban Governance and the Role of Citizen Participation - A Case of Small and Medium Towns of India

Urban Governance in small and medium towns suffer from the chronic problems of poor financial resources, poor administrative and managerial capacity. Due to shortage of funds, many of them are heavily dependent on revenue grants from the higher tier of governments for their operation and maintenance requirements. The chronic fiscal ill health owing to continuous huge revenue deficits has hamstrung the functioning of the local governance resulting mismanagement of basic services. The role local citizen has become very important as they have a complete understanding of the magnitude of the problems of their locality and can develop a healthy and meaningful relation with the municipal officials. However, the role of citizen in these settlements is very limited. The present paper is an initiative to reviews the existing scenario of the urban governance in the small and medium towns with reference to urban reforms under JnNURM and the participation of local people to improve the existing situation of basic services in these settlements. The paper finds the need for innovative models for better financial management and greater citizens' participation in urban governance. This paper strongly recommends the regular citizen report cards system at the regular interval to improve the status of municipal services, transparency and accountability of the local governments in these towns.

Satpal Singh