Modi says people, urban leadership will decide future course of cities

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, June 25, 2015

Modi launches three major urban development initiatives
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that, for the first time in the country, the people and the urban leadership would play pivotal roles in deciding the future course of their cities, putting an end to the top-down approach followed until now.
He was speaking at the launch of three major urban development initiatives by his government -- Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission and Housing for All (Urban) here this morning.
Mr Modi said that, for the first time, 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.
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. 
Mr Modi gave a simple vision of a smart city, as one which was a step or two ahead of people's aspirations. He mentioned other elements such as technology, transportation, energy efficiency, walk-to-work and cycling.
He said the government was sensitive to consumer protection, and towards ending undue harassment, especially with regard to housing. He said one Bill towards this end had already been introduced in Parliament. 
Stating that public representatives and leaders are remembered by the good work they did in their terms, Mr Modi urged urban leaders to contribute to doing something for the good of the people. 
He told the gathering that they had 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. He said the aspirations of migrants from rural areas, and slum dwellers, had to be balanced with the changing global environment. 
He said ensuring a good life for them is their responsibility. In this context, the two-day workshop organised alongside the event presented a good opportunity to work out strategies for the future, he said.
Recalling the Emergency, which was imposed 40 years ago on this day, the Prime Minister said the dreams and aspirations that inspired people to struggle against the emergency, should be a beacon for the gathering. He said all schemes for urban development should move forward based on people's participation. 
Mr Modi said urbanization should be viewed as an opportunity, and urban centres should be viewed as growth engines. He said if this had been done 25-30 years ago, it would have led to good results today, but better late than never. 
He said schemes which had a clear vision and were people-centric were the need of the hour. He called for replication of best practices from across the country. In particular, he mentioned Hyderabad's tax collection system, Karnataka's efforts for solid waste management, and Chhattisgarh's work to eliminate open defecation. 
Mentioning the challenge of rising population, he said all possible avenues should be explored to find the resources for urban development. 
Mr Modi said a house was a turning point in the lives of poor, which led towards a better life. He said 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 that India was completing 75 years of independence in 2022, and by then, it was the government's responsibility to provide a house for everyone. 
He said there was a lack of a 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. 
The Prime Minister appreciated people for their interest and work in the Swachh Bharat initiative, as well as the positive role played by media in generating awareness. 
He said urban and rural development in thecountry should be complimentary. One way of doing this was to ensure waste water management in urban areas, so that the treated water could be returned to rural areas for irrigation. Similarly solid waste management could generate compost which could act as organic fertiliser for the surrounding rural areas, he said.
Mr Modi released logos, and taglines for AMRUT and Smart Cities Mission; and guidelines for AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission and Housing for All (Urban). He also visited an exhibition on best practices in urban development. 
Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister of State for Urban Development Babul Supriyo, Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra and Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Kumar Singh were among those present on the occasion. 

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