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Scrutiny
  
And belaboured
...is the condition of infrastructure
11/01/2007

Census 2001 noted that urban India consisted 27.8% of the total 1.03 billion population. That percentage in absolute figures is almost equal to the total US population! The comparison, however, ends exactly here. With around 35 cities having more than a million population and with three mega cities (Mumbai, Delhi & Kolkata) amongst the ten largest cities of the world, the urban infrastructure that India has to offer is simply deplorable. About 52% of the urban populace does not have access to sanitation; and about 40-50% of the solid waste is not disposed off. Also, even with immense rise in vehicular population, the road length in urban India has grown marginally by 5% in 40 years.

This scenario warrants urgent reforms including a change in archaic laws for revamping the cities. In this backdrop, the unwillingness of state governments to initiate changes for gaining access to central funds under Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission defies logic. As mandated, state governments are required to bring down stamp duties to 5% in 7 years, annul the Urban Land Ceiling Act and modify the Rent Control Act. But as most of them are politically contentious, the delay gets a political colour. To make urban India habitable, not only are these initiatives required, but even effective core reforms need urgent implementation to invigorate the Urban Local Bodies created by the 74th amendment. So while the ruling lords of our country live in the swanky and posh area of our urban hearland they deny the basics to others.

‘slum’mised cities

The majority of citizens in urban centres continue to have civic amenities of medieval era. That problem gets accentuated when the political priorities of the ruling elite prevent any meaningful change into the co-ordinates of filth. In such complex chemistry, outdated laws are preferred to the central assistance under the JLNR Mission as that might lead to the exponential loss of votes and thus power.

By:- BE Edit Bureau
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