States and union territories have endorsed five transformational urban reforms proposed by the ministry of urban development aimed at improving service delivery to citizens besides promoting resource mobilisation required for meeting the urban infrastructure demand.
They also supported new policies and schemes proposed by the ministry, viz., transit-oriented development policy, green urban mobility scheme, metro policy, value capture financing policy framework, city liveability index and fecal sludge and septage management policy.
A consensus on this was reached at a day-long 'National Consultation Workshop on Urban Development' chaired by minister of urban development M Venkaiah Naidu in New Delhi on Tuesday.
In his opening remarks, Venkaiah Naidu noted that there was a growing competition among the states for resources and said ''Investment meets being organised by almost all states will lead nowhere if the states were not clean and necessary urban infrastructure was not ensured in cities''.
Stating that rapid economic growth is all about investments, Naidu urged the states and cities to radically reform urban governance, planning and financing to attract investments. ''Under the new approaches introduced by the government over the last two years, the cities are moving away from the earlier state of neglect and are now inspired by a new found sense of confidence, completion and character to rise to the challenges of urbanisation,'' he said.
The minister informed that further to empowerment of state and city governments in respect of project formulation, assessment and appraisals, an investment of over Rs2,80,000 crore has been approved over a short period of just about two years, which was many times that of the previous 10 years.
Stating that cities have begun their journey towards urban renaissance well, Naidu, however, cautioned that many more miles have to be travelled to realise the desired urban transformation and the country doesn't have the luxury of time given the missed opportunities and time.
Complimenting states and cities for doing well in building toilets under Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), Naidu voiced concern over sub-optimal results in respect of solid waste management. ''Efforts need to be stepped up by states and cities to ensure that urban areas would be no more seen as garbage dumps,'' he said.
Rajiv Gauba, secretary (urban development) complimented states for their enthusiastic participation in the deliberations and for endorsing the proposed reforms and new policies and schemes.
Gauba explained that the reforms proposed were based on their identified potential impact on urban governance, planning and financing aspects. These are:
- Aadopting 'trust and verify' for granting approvals in respect of permits for low risk buildings;
- Change of property titles and registration of births and deaths which account for over 80 per cent of physical transactions between city governments and citizens;
- Credit rating and Municipal Bonds for mobilising resources and their impact on a range of governance parameters;
- Value capture financing for realising a part of increase in value of land and properties further to public investments; and
- Professionalisation of municipal cadre to promote innovation in planning and execution and land titling laws to end uncertainty in property rights.
States have also agreed to the three-year timeframe suggested by the ministry for implementation of the five transformational reforms.