The 15 year vision document of Modi government will have a major thrust on urbanisation said Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya. The long-term vision document will replace the erstwhile Planning Commission’s five year plans that have been in force since 1951.
Speaking at the third BRICS Urbanisation Forum in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday, Panagariya said, “As per the instructions of PM Narendra Modi, the Niti Aayog is working on preparing the 15 year vision document and the seven year strategy. Urbanisation will be an important component of both. Without cities we can’t grow rapidly, urbanisation plays an important role in poverty alleviation.”
Panagariya added that some of the important concerns that will need to be addressed with regards to India’s urban trajectory are the issue of space in cities especially such as Mumbai, provision of amenities such as water and sanitation, clean air and streets, enhanced public transportation with last mile connectivity and digital connectivity.
Union minister of Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu told The Indian Express that the plan will be fleshed out further following a national conclave of all states that will be presided over by Modi. He added that India, with 32 per cent of its population living in cities, is the least urbanised of the BRICS bloc and the only way ahead is through reforms that promote private participation in the urbanisation process. As against India’s low urbanisation level, 84 per cent of the population in Brazil, 73 per cent in Russia, 64 per cent in South Africa and 56 per cent in China live in cities.
“The National conclave for urban renaissance will look at how to raise the level of governance, infrastructure and resources. The investment required to fix infrastructure loopholes will come only through reforms that encourage PPP (public private participation),” said Naidu. He stressed on the need for increased user charges for various urban services. “For instance, those consuming more than a certain amount of water will have to pay more. This will not be applicable to the poor,” he said.
The three-day BRICS Urbanisation Forum, attended by urban ministers and 60 delegates from South Africa, China, Brazil and Russia, is being held in Visakhapatnam in the run-up to the BRICS summit in Goa next month. Officials said that the BRICS bloc, which account for more than 53 per cent of the world’s population, is expected to evolve a common urban agenda and present it at the once-in-twenty year United Nations HABITAT III.