Noting that “planned and well-guided urbanisation” was central to economic growth, Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday asked the BRICS nations to collectively address “urban challenges” so that they could drive the global economic recovery.
“Given the size of the economies of BRICS countries and the potential still to be realised, member countries need to collectively address urban challenges so that they could drive global economic recovery,” he said, inaugurating the 3rd BRICS conference on Urban Transition here this afternoon.
Stating that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), with a population of over three billion accounted for about one-fourth of global GDP, Venkaiah urged them to step up cooperation in addressing the challenges associated with urban transition through sharing of experiences and knowledge.
Listing various initiatives launched by the Central government for urban rejuvenation, he said it has committed to provide an assistance of Rs 1.13 lakh crore over the next three years to improve basic urban infrastructure in India.
The Centre has been adopting a 10-point strategy for “urban renaissance” and the paradigm shift in approach towards urban development has started yielding results, he added.
“Urban revival in India is being sought to be realised based on citizens’ participation, autonomy to urban local bodies and states in project formulation.
“Promotion of a healthy spirit of competition among ULBs, area-based development, capacity building and enhanced resource flows to ULBs and states are other key forces driving our new urban rejuvenation policy,” the Urban Development Minister added.
“The political class of the country is now more sensitisedthan ever to the challenges in urban sector and the need to fix them at the earliest in interest of rapid economic growth besides enabling a decent quality of life,” he said.
The NDA government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has “ended the ambiguity” in approach to urban development since Independence as planned and well-guided urbanisation was central to economic growth, he said.
Stating that resources were key to addressing “huge infrastructure deficit” in urban areas, Venkaiah said the Union government was taking measures to enable increased flow of resources to ULBs, including enhanced Central assistance.
Under Smart City Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), the Centre has committed to provide an assistance of Rs 1.13 lakh crore to improve basic urban infrastructure till 2018-19, he said.
“This is a quantum jump from just Rs 33,902 crore financial assistance the Centre extended to ULBs in 10 years from 2004 under JNNURM for basic infrastructure.”
“The pace and scale of project and investment approvals have increased manifold since 2015 with the Centre approving an assistance of Rs 1.84 lakh crore.
“This includes Rs 78,292 crore under Smart City Mission for 33 mission cities, Rs 45,293 crore under Atal Mission and another Rs 56,231 crore for building affordable houses for urban poor. These are the early gains of urban renaissance in the country,” the Union minister explained.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu delivered the key-note address to the three-day conference.
Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog Arvind Panagaria, Ministers from BRICS countries, urban development experts, academicians and representatives of industry are attending the conference.