India National Report to Habitat III

Day One  Monday, October 5th, 2015 (World Habitat Day)

Urban Thinkers Campus India 2015


Plenary Session-2

 India National Report to HABITAT-III

16:00-17:30, Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre

 

Inaugural address:  Dr Nandita Chatterjee, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation

Dr. Chatterjee opened the session by stating the importance of sustainable development. She clarified that the National Report shall be formally presented at the High Level Asia Pacific Regional Meeting for Habitat III which will be held on 22-23 October 2015 in Jakarta. She said that the country reports presented at this meet shall be deliberated upon till the  Prep Com -3. (The third session of The Preparatory Committee of Habitat III to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia in July 2016) Dr. Chatterjee urged the audience to view the Country Report as the New Urban Agenda instead of the National Report.

Presentation of National Habitat Report by Dr H.S. Gill, Executive Director, HSMI

Dr. Gill presented the National Report by giving a background of the Habitat Conferences (Habitat I,II and III) and reiterated the statement that the report should be viewed as the New Urban Agenda instead of a Country Report. He began by giving the scope and limitations of the report, stating that the report was restrained by a 50-page limit, and also stated that the vast differences and variations across the Indian states were a further limitation.

Given below is a brief summary of the National Report as presented by Dr. Gill. The report is divided into 8 chapters as follows:

Chapter 1 Urbanization And Urban Economy

Due to the rapid urbanization in the country, there has been an unprecedented expansion in Urban Area. Natural increase is a major factor for this growth. Further, urbanization is becoming more metropolized, and moving towards a city-based urbanization.  It is estimated that about 70.2% urban population shall be centered in few cities (less than 500).

The urbanization pattern is described by 4 categories

  • Cities with declining core and declining periphery
  • Cities with growing core growing and declining periphery
  • Cities with declining core and growing periphery
  • Cities with declining cor e and declining periphery

Chapter 2 Urban Lands , Planning And Mobility

The report cites Land Pooling as an alternate and viable method of developing Urban Land giving the example of the new capital city of Andra Pradesh that has been developed using this model. The report notes that current land markets in the country are inefficient and highly informalized.

The report appraises the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and mentioned that Indian states have been requested to frame own Urban Land Acts.  The report also states that the new URDFI guidelines 2014 provides suggested measure of urban land acquisition, utilization and development parameters, and mentions that the primary pattern of land development in Indian cities is through an Agglomeration Approach, which is seen in cities such as Greater Mumbai, NCR, and Greater Bengaluru, leading to high growth tendencies of existing metropolitan cities.

Chapter 3 Urban Environment

Stating that issue of urban environment as critical, the report notes that deteriorating air quality in cities, primarily due to greater density of vehicular traffic is leading to health problems, which translates as GDP losses in  the form of expenditure on healthcare. The report describes 8 key missions  on the issue of urban environment, stating that the National Sustainable Habitat Mission is of primary importance on the issue of degrading urban environments.

Chapter 4 Urban Housing And Urban Services

The report appraises the current urban housing shortages and their income distribution in the country and notes that congestion (overcrowding) is a key issue while addressing the challenge of growing urban housing shortages. The report states that renovation,  redevelopment and redensification are key areas of tackling the housing challenge in the country, and mentions the new National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy (draft), and several urban housing missions such as the JNURRM, BSUP, RAY and several new programmes look at addressing the housing challenges particularly for the LIG/EWS segment.

Chapter 5 Infrastructure And Urban Services

The report notes Urban Solid Waste Management as a critical issue in Indian cities and mentions waste-to-energy as a viable way forward, noting that several cities that have already adopted the waste-to-energy programme. The report states the potential of waste-water recycling and private sector involvement in urban sanitation. The report also mentions the importance of missions such as HRIDAY, JNNURM and Swachh Bharat in providing infrastructure and urban services in Indian cities.

Chapter 6 Urban Legation And Governance

The report emphasizes the importance of the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 and states that the key issues lie in the  gaps in translation of the act, particularly in terms of ULB functioning, powers, and finance. The report states ad-hoc implementation of missions as an issue and suggests the development of parastatal power sharing structures. The report also notes that the role of the private sector in urban governance still needs to be evolved.

Regarding municipal finance, the report states that due to limited resource availability,  gaps in the provision of finance have lead to gaps in the provision of infrastructure in cities. The report notes that between the 13th and the 14th finance commission, the resources of the ULBs have declined. However after the 14th Finance commission,  substantial resource can be pulled together by ULBs through self-resource mobilization, such as by property tax, which is a promising mode of funding. The report states that though there has been systematic improvement and best practice documentation and sharing measures (capacity building) between cities, there is a gap in scaling such practice across states.

Chapter 7 Urban Initiatives

The report appraises  various major urban sector missions in the country such as the 74th Amendment Act, Income tax amendment act, Urban Reform Incentive fund, JNNURM, RAY, NULM, 100 smart cities, AMRUT, Housing for All (PMAY), Swachh Bharat and HRIDAY.

Chapter 8 New Urban Agenda (33 parameters)
The report states four key areas of improving local governance in cities including- enabling ULBs, landuse optimization, inclusive urban development and capacity building. It mentions the key missions in the country that are essential for bringing out positive transformations. These include- Make In India, Digital India, National Skill Development Mission, and Rurban (formerly PURA)

Towards Urban Transformation

While stating that 17 SDGs have been finalized based on 169 targets, the report  quotes excerpts from the Hon’ble PM’s speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at New York on 25 September 2015

We are focusing on the basics: housing, power, water and sanitation for all – important not just for welfare, but also human dignity. These are goals with a definite date, not just a mirage of hope. Our development is intrinsically linked to empowerment of women and it begins with a massive programme on educating the girl child that has become every family’s mission.

We are making our farms more productive and better connected to markets; and, farmers less vulnerable to the whims of nature. We are reviving our manufacturing, improving our services sector, investing on an unprecedented scale in infrastructure; and, making our cities smart, sustainable and engines of progress. We are committed to a sustainable path to prosperity. It comes from the natural instinct of our tradition and culture. But, it is also rooted firmly in our commitment to the future.”

The reports gives the outline of the country’s 10 target submission to the UN Climate Summit to be held in Paris in Dec 2015 as given below:

  • Reduce emission
  • renewable resources
  • carbon sinks
  • improving water resources
  • disaster management
  • climate resilient infrastructure
  • promote energy efficiency
  • Green India Mission
  • Climate technologies
  • Convergence of schemes

Regarding Urban India, the report states that India is expected to be 46% urbanized by 2036. The report makes three key observations :

  • 1/3 housing stock more than 40 years old
  • 50% urban housing stock can be rebuilt in 20 years
  • monetization of land

33 Parameters of the New urban Agenda for Indian Cities

The report listed 33 parameters that defined how we perceive future Indian cities

  1. Fully planned cities
  2. Composite Living- Inclusive development
  3. Public transportation -up to/more than 60%
  4. High speed public transport
  5. low/non polluting transport
  6. Lessening of fossil fuel use- emphasis on walking, e-rickshaws, local transport
  7. LED street lights- low consumption, with dimmers
  8. Street light repair by inverter support, sensor based fault identification
  9. CCTV- high security streets
  10. RCC roads- integrated with future expansion plans- no digging
  11. Rain water harvesting all roads, streets, and buildings
  12. Barrier free pedestrian pathways
  13. 100% sanitation
  14. Natural drainage pattern, climate change
  15. Waste water treatment and on-site reuse
  16. Reclaiming water bodies
  17. Bringing down water use to half from current standard
  18. Mosquito control
  19. Green open spaces- plantation of fast growing bamboo
  20. Public facilities
  21. Accessibility of public facilitates to all
  22. All green building
  23. Barrier free building
  24. Electricity consumption lowered by 50%
  25. Well distributed Business District Centres
  26. Low crime/ fast disposal
  27. Adequate housing for senior citizens
  28. Waste (100% collection) to electricity
  29. Intensive use of technology/innovation
  30. eGovernance
  31. Smart grid
  32. Normative norms, self-declaration/ approval of building/ town layouts (Ease of doing Business)
  33. Disaster preparedness

Panelists

The Panelists congratulated Dr. Gill for bringing out the report and stated that the 33 indicators were ambitious and achievable for making our cities sustainable and inclusive. The observations made by the Panelists are as follows:

Mr. Pooran Chandra Pandey, Executive Director, UNGCN India

Mr Pandey stated that mobilization of  finance, both domestic and foreign, is important to  fulfill the stated 33 agendas. He stated that the frameworks for involving the private sector in the process of the implementation of these agendas need to be evolved. He pointed out that the UN GCN has successfully tied in with various large Corporates and chambers of commerce in their commitment to ‘go green’ and lower their business carbon footprint. Mr. Pandey stated that the engagement with the private sector is key in fulfilling the broad national agendas and noted that 4 pillars of achieving the goals are Money, Private Sector Engagement, Inclusive governance and technology.

Mr. Barjor E. Mehta, Global Lead, World Bank

Mr. Mehta shared his concern on the use of the term Monetization of land, and said that the statement needs to be clarified. He further stated that accountable governance structures for public private engagement need to be put in place at the local government level. He said that goals in themselves are good, but development on ground needs to be measurable, leading to a discussion with the audience on ‘who measures’ this development, and ‘how’ this development should be measured.

Prof. O.P. Mathur, urban Specialist and Senior Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences

Prof. Mathur noted that delinking the report from the stated UN Habitat guidelines (and page limit) would have brought out an unrestrained report, which would perhaps have been different. Prof Mathur then made the following observations:

1) Since Habitat II, there have been dramatic changes in India- a paradigm shift. Simple comparison therefore cannot work  since the pattern of urbanization has changed since post liberalization (1996)

2) Indian urbanization is largely informal urbanization.

3) Since 2002, the patterns of Centrally sponsored schemes have shifted, from incentive based to reform based.   This change in the centre-state relationship, and the nature of central assistance for cities and urbanization is a form of Corporate Federalism. He noted that overtime, as the urban sector has opened up to the market, the flow of capital has been quick to respond. However, the flow of labour and land has not kept pace with this capital flow, which has lead to severe distortions.

Prof. Mathur stated that there is an urgent need of an Integrated National Urban Policy


 

Submitted by:

Vitasta Raina, Communication Specialist, South Asia Urban Knowledge Hub

(vraina@niua.org)

 

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