Why India needs an urbanization policy?

Synopsis: Cities are drivers of economic growth. As India urbanizes, it must ensure that its cities offer a decent quality of life and facilitate job creation.

Introduction

According to UN projections, from a population of 377 million in 2011, Indian cities are projected to house 870 million people by 2050.

However, cities face several challenges today. Because of Inadequate affordable housing, almost one-sixth of the urban population lives in slums. Then there are other challenges like water supply, waste disposal, climate change, infrastructure and services. Given the importance of urbanization, it is important that the right policy steps are taken to address the needs of urbanization.

What policy steps are needed?

First, India needs to decide the size of cities. Whether India needs a large agglomeration of 30 to 40 million or small manageable cities 2 to 3 million. Larger cities have the advantage of economies of scale, but they are difficult to manage.

Second, finance is a big hurdle in creating quality infrastructure. The requirement is beyond the provisions of the budget. Tapping the capital market would require making the services costly. So one way could be monetizing the land assets. India can also explore utilizing the private sector for the provision of services.

Third, India should take lessons from the historical organizations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro and start to focus on plant organization rather than just construction.

Fourth, city planning should go beyond its political boundaries and include areas of economic and geographical linkages to make viable urban agglomeration.

Fifth, given the challenge of climate change, city’s should focus on green infrastructure, energy-efficient buildings, sustainable solutions to problems of energy and infrastructure.

Sixth, India should utilize technology to alter the working patterns like work from home or remote working to reduce the burden on transport infrastructure.

What should be the way forward?

A sound urbanization policy can guide how the growing urban population lives, works, and plays in India’s cities of the future. Such a policy is the need of the hour and cannot be delayed.

Source: This post is based on the article ” Why India needs an urbanization policy?” published in the Indian Express on 7th October 2021.

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