New Delhi: Identifying them as key players in implementing its new urban initiatives including the 'Swachch Bharat Mission', the Centre has decided to reach out to municipal commissioners across the country.
Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu will talk face-to-face with municipal commissioners of all cities with population of over a lakh each. This will be done at consultative workshops to be held in different regions of the country.
The first of such workshops will be held in Hyderabad tomorrow, where Naidu will also nominate 9 'Swachh Bharat Ambassadors' each from the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Municipal commissioners of over 70 cities and senior officials of urban development departments from the five southern states - Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telanagana and Andhra Pradesh and the Union Territory of Puducherry will be attending the first workshop.
Implementation issues pertaining to the schemes such as the 'Swachh Bharat Mission', urban renewal of 500 cities/towns, housing for all by 2022, skill Development and self-employment of urban poor under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana and capacity building of urban local bodies will be discussed in detail.
Naidu will give an account of the broad objectives of the new initiatives in urban sector, besides sharing his concerns about the state of urban governance and innovations and improvements required to achieve the objectives in the context of the Central government's emphasis on urban development.
Talking to PTI, Naidu said, "Weak urban governance structures in the country, in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ambition to make urban sector an effective engine of economic growth, is a matter of serious concern. An effort has been made under the JNNURM to foster reforms in urban sector but the results have been much short of intention."
"We can't miss another opportunity. The 21st century belongs to the cities. Urbanisation in our country at the moment is at the level of 31 per cent of total population. Global experience suggests that while urbanisation will be slow till it reaches 30 per cent level, it will gain momentum till it reaches 60 per cent," he said.
Weak urban planning and execution and lack of qualified manpower are our prime concerns. We need to address them in all seriousness, Naidu, also the Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister, added.