GS 2 – GOVERNANCE Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Urban planning is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment including:
- the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas
- distribution networks.
- After COVID19, we have been forced to redefine issues so that we can make the most of what lies ahead.
- In policymaking and the consequent activities of legislative and executive responses and budgetary allocations,the fundamental step that decides the course of action.
- Statutory town,includes all places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee.
- defined by state governments and place India’s urbanisation rate at 26.7%.
- Urban- Census adopts three criteria to define:
- A minimum population of 5000.
- At least 75% of the male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits
- A density of population of at least 400 persons/sq km.
India’s urbanisation rate at 31%
Total number of towns— 7933.
Together constituting a 377-mn population.
- This definition skews the policy maker’s attention and budgetary allocation.
- not in tandem with the ground realities.
- Urban planning lost ground substantially during the 1980s and the 1990s.
- To a large extent, this was due to the spread of neoliberal ideology of market-led development paradigm.
- In India and in other developing countries, it was also due to
- The inability of the urban planners to emerge out of their preoccupation with archaic land use control regulations.
- adopt more strategic and participatory approaches.
Need to change the definition of Urban Areas:
- There is evidence mostly from satellite imagery that India is way more urban than the 2011 Census estimate.
- This is quite plausible because there is a large sum of money allocated for rural development.
- It is in the interest of state governments to under-represent urbanisation.
- Census’s stringent definition was first carved out in 1961 by census commissioner Asok Mitra.
- do not reflect the realities of the 21st century.
- Many countries (China, Iran, the UK), have changed the definition of ‘urban’ from one census to another.
- India,is also not alone in facing the challenge of defining what constitutes urban.
- Worldwide, there are a fairly large set of thresholds being used to define an urban area.
- India is one of the only four countries to use a combination of administrative, economic and density for urban definition.
- Taking a more liberal and realistic approach in the upcoming census to define urban areas.
- Many think-tanks have highlighted this issue.
- if we just use the population density criteria like 37 other countries,
- with the 400 people/sq km threshold,
- we will add around 500 mn people to the urban share of the population.
- pegs the urbanisation rate at over 70%.
- have a rare opportunity in Census 2021 to redefine what constitutes as urban.
- becomes more important in the wake of Covid-19
- considerable share of the migrant population has moved back to either smaller cities or their villages.
- If they do not move back to cities soon enough, this will reflect in the 2021 census.
- the urban areas will get even lower funding, limiting their ability to invest in developing urban areas.
- The budgetary allocation will reflect the reality and scales will balance between rural and urban areas.
- The urban areas will not be governed through rural governance structures of Panchayati Raj Institutions.
- Can avoid the trap existing cities face, devoid of basic urban infrastructure.
- Some Services can be provided in areas otherwise would continue to operate as rural areas.Such as:
- The sewerage networks
- fire services
- building regulations
- high-density housing
- transit-oriented development
- piped drinking water supply.
- Post-COVID-there is an urgent need to expand our investments in the urban areas
- medical facilities
- Newly defined urban areas could act as a new source of revenue for funding local infrastructure development through municipal finance sources such as property tax and development rights.
- would ease pressure on state finances.
- Will open them to new infrastructure such as
- railway lines
- DISCOM services
- highway connectivity
- creation of higher education institutes
- which will together increase the connectivity and resource capability at the local level.
- Boost the local economy.
- Ease pressure on bigger cities.
- Help in cluster level development.
We showed such agility while undertaking reforms in the agriculture sector. There is no reason why we cannot do it for urbanisation.