Rajeev Chandrasekhar – @rajeev_mp on Twitter – is an independent MP representing Bangalore Urban in the Rajya Sabha. He tweeted 4 times earlier today – 8 May 2012 . The first one was about being nominated to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development, and the rest three tweets were on his desire to improve the JNNURM program, with particular focus on renewal of the cities.
Intrigued as I was by this, I had to look up what exactly was the “renewal” part of JNNURM. So, my search took me to this link: http://jnnurm.nic.in/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/PMSpeechOverviewE.pdf
The mission statement is:
The aim is to encourage reforms and fast track planned development of identified cities. Focus is to be on efficiency in urban infrastructure and service delivery mechanisms, community participation, and accountability of ULBs/ Parastatal agencies towards citizens.
Good, very good indeed. Renewal? Not mentioned here. So, the next part is the objectives of the mission. And they are:
(a) Focussed attention to integrated development of infrastructure services in cities covered under the Mission;.
(b) Establishment of linkages between asset-creation and asset-management through a slew of reforms for long-term project sustainability;.
(c) Ensuring adequate funds to meet the deficiencies in urban infrastructural services;.
(d) Planned development of identified cities including peri-urban areas, outgrowths and urban corridors leading to dispersed urbanisation;.
(e) Scale-up delivery of civic amenities and provision of utilities with emphasis on universal access to the urban poor;.
(f) Special focus on urban renewal programme for the old city areas to reduce congestion; and
(g) Provision of basic services to the urban poor including security of tenure at affordable prices, improved housing, water supply and sanitation, and ensuring delivery of other existing universal services of the government for education, health and social security.
The only place where renewal is mentioned in the 7 objectives is in the 6th one! Hmmm…this was strange. Why use the word in the name of the program, but find not much use for it in the details? I went ahead in the document and read up the next part – the scope of the mission. And it is:
The Mission shall comprise two Sub- Missions, namely:
(1) Sub-Mission for Urban Infrastructure and Governance: This will be administered by the Ministry of Urban Development through the Sub- Mission Directorate for Urban Infrastructure and Governance. The main thrust of the Sub-Mission will be on infrastructure projects relating to water supply and sanitation, sewerage, solid waste management, road network, urban transport and redevelopment of old city areas with a view to upgrading infrastructure therein, shifting industrial and commercial establishments to conforming areas, etc.
(2) Sub-Mission for Basic Services to the Urban Poor: This will be administered by the Ministry of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation through the Sub-Mission Directorate for Basic Services to the Urban Poor. The main thrust of the Sub-Mission will be on integrated development of slums through projects for providing shelter, basic services and other related civic amenities with a view to providing utilities to the urban poor.
Well, in the first sub-mission, the word redevelopment is used, perhaps in place of renewal with respect to what is called as old city areas. In namma uru Bengaluru, perhaps Chikpet, Balepet and maybe even Charamajpet would qualify as “old city” areas. Wonder if Malleswaram and Basavangudi would qualify for that even though they were populated at least 50 -60 years ago.
The visible aspects of JNNURM program, at least to me, over the last 5-6 years have been some sanitation projects, road network improvements (the roads are built to proper specifications for sure!) and lots and lots of new buses.
Back to my original query though. Why use a word in the name of a program and then not find much use for it elsewhere? Or am I missing something here and both missions do cover “renewal” of an existing city? What is not clear to me is why there is a need for this program even after the city corporation collects taxes that they should be using to do exactly this? The cynic in me would wink twice and say look at the amount of money that can be siphoned off!!! The believer in me would understand that tax evading is far more than tax collection, and hence the need for such a program!
Will wait to hear more from Rajeev Chanrasekhar. And I have some more views on the second mission that I will share in another post. Dear reader, what is your point of view on JNNURM – with or without the renewal?