Cities should get chance to plan their growth: Modi

Private property developers should not decide how a city should grow and the decision should be taken by residents and the city leadership, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi


NEW DELHI, June 25: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said private property developers should not decide how a city should grow and the decision should be taken by residents and the city leadership, as he unveiled three mega flagship urban schemes aimed at developing cities as engines of growth. Urbanisation should be viewed as an opportunity and urban centres should be viewed as growth engines, he said launching the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission, and Housing for All (Urban) here. "Under these schemes we can go ahead and we can do it together (Centre and state). India is rapidly urbanising. Every year Hindustan gives birth to a small country," he said. While 500 cities will be developed under AMRUT scheme, there would be 100 Smart Cities over five years and Housing for All aims construction of 2 crore houses in urban areas in the next seven years. Smart City will be selected through a competition among cities while 500 cities are being identified under AMRUT. Read more: Criteria for selection of potential smart cities announced Referring to Smart City, Modi said, "For the first time in India, a challenge was being floated, in which the citizens of urban India could contribute in the formulation of development visions of their cities." Those cities which were able to competitively meet the required parameters would be developed as smart cities. "This competitive mechanism would end the top-down approach, and lead to people-centric urban development," he said. "These urban development schemes were not prepared by the Government alone, but involved perhaps the biggest consultation exercise ever taken by the Union Government, involving all stakeholders and examining global best practices," he said. Stressing that all schemes for urban development should move forward based on people's participation, Modi said, "There is a lack of holistic vision about urban planning, and expansion is driven not by the administrators of a city, but by property developers. "Through AMRUT, the aim of the Government is to give cities themselves the chance to plan their future growth," he said. The Prime Minister said the people assembled for the function here had on them the collective responsibility for better quality of life for 40 percent of India's population that either lived in cities, or were dependent on cities for their livelihood. The Prime Minister stressed that aspirations of migrants from rural areas, and slum dwellers, should be balanced with the changing global environment and said ensuring a good life for them is the government's responsibility. Giving a simple vision of a smart city, he said it is one which was a step or two ahead of people's aspirations. "There should be facility for walk-to-work because today a person spends maximum time in travelling to office and gets very little time to work," Modi said. Besides transportation, technology also plays a key role and there should also be provision for energy efficiency, and cycling etc. Lamenting the state of affairs in urban areas, he said, "If this had been done 25-30 years ago, it would have led to good results today, but better late than never. Schemes which had a clear vision and were people-centric, were the need of the hour." Seeking replication of best practices from across the country, the Prime Minister mentioned Hyderabad's tax collection system, Karnataka's efforts for solid waste management, and Chhattisgarh's work to eliminate open defecation. Chhattisgarh, which is fighting Maoist menace, is making an all out effort to make the state free from open defecation, he said. Mentioning the challenge of rising population, he said all possible avenues should be explored to find the resources for urban development. Highlighting the importance of the housing scheme, the Prime Minister observed that, "A house was a turning point in the lives of poor, which leads towards a better life and the government's effort was to not just provide a house, but to provide the right environment to live life to the fullest." Citing the existing housing shortage of 2 crore units, he said India would complete 75 years of Independence in 2022, and by then, it was "our responsibility to provide a house for everyone".