To incentivise urban local bodies that raise their own resources, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu Thursday said additional funding of 20 per cent would be provided by states to bodies that bring about reforms to improve urban infrastructure. Lauding the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) initiative of issuing municipal bonds worth Rs 2,300 crore, Naidu urged other urban local bodies to follow suit. The bond was launched at the Bombay Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Referring to cities as engines of growth, Naidu stressed on the need for city governments to raise resources. “Money has to be raised locally too. Planning of every city has to be done by the city itself and citizens have to plan their own city… Gone are the days of freebies where nothing is done over five years and mixers, grinders are announced only around the election time. Even after 69 years of independence, 60 per cent of the people don’t have access to toilet facilities,” he said.
Appealing to all local bodies to follow the model of the PMC and the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, Naidu said other cities should raise finances by implementing transparent governance and taking people into confidence. Announcing that the Centre had approved Rs 4.13 lakh crore to improve urban infrastructure in the country, the minister said, “Urban local bodies which perform better (in raising revenue) and are able to implement more reforms, 20 per cent additional funds will be granted to them.”
Citing the smart cities initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu said it was important to have a competitive spirit among cities. He added that the title of a ‘smart city’ was given purely on performance and not on political preference.
The PMC became the first corporation to issue municipal bonds after the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) new regulations were announced in 2015.
Pune Municipal Commissioner Ashish Chavan said the project will use technologies like GIS mapping and hydraulic mapping to create uninterrupted and clean access of water. “The system has been designed for 30 years and required an accurate projection of the requirements of the scheme. We have taken the help of citizens, NGOs and social workers to design it. The project will include universal smart metering of water consumption, which will save a lot of water. This can be used to irrigate 8,000 hectares of land or even supply water to villages,” he said.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Finance is not a problem. We have enough money in our country. To finance projects, we need to look at proper action plans with bankable proposals. Financing urban governance through municipal bond market is a historical moment.”