In 1933, at the height of the great depression, noted British economist John Maynard Keynes wrote an open letter to the President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt, encouraging him to enact what came to be known as the New Deal, where investment in infrastructure became the silver bullet to pull the world out of the great depression.
The Indian Economic Survey 2017-18 estimated that the country will require $4.5 trillion infrastructure investment by 2040. Much of this infrastructure investment will need to be focused on urban India, as by 2030, 40% of the country’s population, or 600 million people, will reside in cities.
Even more importantly, India requires 700 to 900 million square meters of residential and commercial space (equivalent to Chicago) to be built every year from now till 2030 to accommodate this 600 million i.e. 70% of India of 2030 will be built in the next decade.
Taking cognisance of the growing need and importance of urban development, PM Narendra Modi embarked on the world’s most ambitious planned urbanisation programme. In June 2015, he launched three flagship missions, namely, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), Smart Cities Mission, and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
PMAY (U) is predicated on the vision of providing each Indian a home he/she can call his/her own. To meet this objective, we need to build 1crore dwelling units in urban spaces as had been assessed by the states and UTs. 81 lakh homes have already been sanctioned, 48 lakh grounded for construction, and 26 lakh homes have been completed and handed over.
I am confident that by the end of 2021, all the beneficiaries will receive their homes, a full one year before the target date. A crucial aspect of the Mission is that the title of the home will be in the name of the lady of the house or co-jointly, providing a major fillip to women’s empowerment.
The scheme through its four verticals— In Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR); Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP); Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) and Beneficiary Led Construction (BLC)—offers a bouquet of options to the beneficiaries and states/UTs .
The Mission looks at the daunting issue of slums; it focuses on affordable housing; it provides for a very attractive interest subsidy for those wanting to avail a housing loan; and it provides assistance to those who already own land but find it difficult to raise the necessary resources to construct ahouse.
The objective of the Smart Cities Mission is to build the next generation of Indian cities, where infrastructure is easy accessible and affordable, and where citizen-government engagement is efficient and effective.
It aims to achieve this by adopting the latest in technological advancement — whether it is RFID tags that make garbage collection easier or integrated traffic management systems that ease road congestion—technology offers ‘smart’ solutions to many of our infrastructure challenges. Simply put, technology allows urban governance systems to do more with less, thereby easing the resource-deficit burden.
The total investment in the Smart Cities Mission is envisaged to be over Rs 2,05,000 crore through 5,151 projects. 896 projects worth approximately Rs 15,000 crore have been completed and another 1,895 projects worth Rs 75,000 crore are under implementation. The mission works closely with private players, including international firms, to leverage their capital, expertise, human resource, and technology.
So far, under public-private participation model, 65 projects worth over Rs 2,000 crore in 26 cities have been completed. 116 projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore in 45 cities are being implemented; and 91 projects worth over Rs 9,600 crore in 36 cities are in advanced stages of tendering. Moreover, 10 leading international companies are participating in at least 40 of the 100 selected Smart Cities.
AMRUT complements the efforts of both PMAY and the Smart Cities Mission. It seeks to provide water supply, sewerage, urban transport, and safe public spaces to residents of urban centers in 500 cities with populations over 1,00,000. The total mission outlay is expected to be Rs 1,00,000 crore. Projects worth Rs 4,263 have already been completed and contracts worth another Rs 61,093 crore have been awarded.
AMRUT is predicated on the PM Modi’s motto of ‘cooperative federalism’, i.e., state governments take the lead in all three aspects of infrastructure development: (a) designing schemes based on the needs of their respective cities; (b) creating State Annual Action Plans (SAAP) for execution of programmes; and (c) monitoring the progress once funds are released.
The SAAP are submitted to the central government only for broad concurrence and the center provides funding for these schemes as per guidelines. This is a marked departure from past practices where the central government in New Delhi retained all control, using their power for political purposes.
India’s planned urbanisation programme can be termed the 21st century’s New Deal. It is for the first time that a democratically elected government, in a federal framework, in partnership with the private sector, is quite literally ‘building’ a nation from bottoms-up.
Add to this the imperative of building green and resilient infrastructure; what we get is a development model that is a first of its kind. Put another way, what India is doing today in its urban spaces, the rest of the world will do tomorrow.
(The writer is Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs (IC))