Monday 1 October 2012

Empowered Cities to Become Engines of Growth

Dehradun:(Page3 News Network)-The Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture Kumari Selja has said that in the last decade, more population has been added to urban areas than rural areas and the need of the hour is to take proactive policy action to manage these changes such that they do not become roadblocks to our economic growth. Speaking on the occasion to commemorate the World Habitat Day 2012, she said that the prime requirement for preparing the cities for change is proper urban planning. The Minister said, current paradigm of urban planning is based on the anachronistic concept of
static Master Planning. This planning process has proved to be exclusionary. Even though more than 80 per cent of the population in our cities belong to poor and low-income groups yet these master plans are based on the space requirement norms of the average middle class residents. The Master Plans have failed to provide space for shelter and livelihoods to these poorer urban communities. There is a need for complete overhaul in the system. She highlighted how the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) scheme run by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation work aggressively to tackle such residential vulnerability through a rights-based approach to the assignment of property rights to slum dwellers. 
She said, through reform oriented schemes of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and Rajiv Awas Yojna, her Ministry is motivating and prodding the states to modify this planning paradigm to that of transportation-led inclusionary planning In a bid to tackle occupational vulnerability of the urban poor, Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Minister of Culture informed that the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill 2012 had already been introduced in Parliament in a bid to help street vendors who are the poorer sections of the urban population to fight poverty through self-enterprise, to pursue their livelihoods in a hassle-free environment. She also highlighted the plans of her Ministry to launch the National Urban Livelihoods Mission (NULM) to empower the poorer urban population through skill training and credit support for securing livelihoods in the changing market environment. She concluded with the view that making cities engines of growth was only meaningful if that growth ensured equitable access to resources for all citizens and the belief that this view would require proactive and concerted efforts from all stakeholders to make this happen. 
The Secretary, Ministry of HUPA, Shri A.K. Misra, in his address emphasised the need of integrating the housing debt market with the financial market, foreign direct investment, setting up of joint ventures, availability and affordability of loans to EWS section and to explore potential of rental housing finance and community led housing initiatives. He also mentioned that Government is in the process of forming an apex real estate regulatory body to provide guidelines to facilitate single window services. On this occasion, the Secretary, also reiterated the need for collective responsibility for formulating suitable strategies for the future of the human habitat. He said that appropriate policies, institutions and emerging technologies will have a major impact in managing urban system. Shri Misra mentioned the efforts are already being made by the government through their Affordable Housing for All and ISHUP schemes. The creation of Mortgaged Risk Guarantee Fund and range of fiscal initiatives would encourage banks to lend for lower income housing in the country. 
The theme of the World Habitat Day this year is “Changing Cities: Building Opportunities”. 

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