Baton of urban transformation passed on to States: Naidu
Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation has urged the State Governments to strengthen Urban Local Bodies by transferring funds and functionaries and enhancing their administrative, planning and technical capacities
NEW DELHI, June 26: Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M.Venkaiah Naidu today said that “The baton of urban transformation in the country is now in the hands of the States and Urban Local Bodies after the launch of the three new urban missions by the Prime Minister yesterday. It is for you to take it forward. The Central Government has done its bit by formulating the new Missions after extensive consultations with you and based on your views and suggestions”.
During his concluding remarks at the end of the two day long consultations today, Naidu said that States have been given full freedom in designing, approving and execution of projects under the new missions and States and Urban Local Bodies should now rise to the occasion. He has in particular, urged the State Governments to strengthen Urban Local Bodies by transferring funds and functionaries and enhancing their administrative, planning and technical capacities. Naidu stressed that focus should be on revenue generation and urban reforms to meet the aspirations of the citizens under new urban missions. He observed that “Urban transformation as being intended would be a major game changer for the country and the people”.
The Minister has specifically urged the States and ULBs to strive more to ensure housing for all the urban poor by the year 2022. Stating that own house is an essential pre-requisite for decent living, Naidu explained the Operational Guidelines for the Mission which provide for flexibility to States to make it a success. He referred to provision of an unprecedented interest subvention of 6.50 percent for Economically Weaker Sections and Low Income Groups as an indication of central government’s commitment to help urban poor own houses.
Referring to mandatory registration of houses built under the mission either in the name of woman or jointly with husbands, the Minister said that this is being done since women would never think of selling house unlike men.
Referring to mobilisation of required resources for urban housing scheme, Naidu informed the States and ULBs that there is substantial scope for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in construction sector including affordable housing. He said that several measures are being taken to promote housing construction which include:
Reduction in minimum built up area from 50,000 sq.mt to 20,000 sq.mt and reduction in minimum investment norm from $10 million to $5 million;
Exemption from these norms for affordable housing;
Allowing External Commercial borrowings for Affordable Housing and Slum improvement at a level of $1 billion for the current fiscal.
Pursuing Real Estate Bill to protect interest of consumers while at the same time enhancing the credibility of Real Estate Sector;
Enabling priority lending or Infrastructure Sector for construction sector;
Increased tax incentives for investments in housing; and
Inclusion of Slum development in the list of Corporate Social Sector activities.
Minister of Power and New and Renewable Energy Sources Piyush Goyal who addressed the elected heads of municipal bodies said that the Government is committed to enable generation of energy from municipal waste and a policy in this regard would soon be finalised. He informed that his Ministry is working on means of supporting the process of Waste to Energy conversion and also selling of power so generated. He said that this would help in enabling sanitation in urban areas.
Speaking about the need for energy conservation, Goyal said that the Government is working on a plan of action for removing 77 crore high energy consuming incandescent lights by LED lamps which would result in substantial savings. He gave the example of Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation which replaced 92,000 streetlights with LED lamps at a cost of Rs.64 cr resulting in a saving of about Rs.150 cr per year.