New Delhi: Urban Housing and Poverty Alleviation Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Friday expressed concern over deficit in urban governance and asked the states and union territories to address the emerging challenges.
Naidu asked all cities to come out with a White Paper on Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) with details of their financial condition, ongoing projects, available resources and future plan among others.
"Let's admit, our urban local bodies are in a mess and not in a position to meet the new challenges," he said at the meeting of Secretaries of Urban Development of all states and Union Territories here today.
He, however, said his observation is not against any political parties or state government.
"I am not targeting any particular ULB or state because situation is same in more or less everywhere. There are ULBs controlled by BJP also," Naidu said.
He said resources are limited and ULBs are reluctant to raise resources.
Emphasising the need for 'people-centred urban planning', Naidu suggested that states and UTs should come out with White Papers in respect of each city with details of revenues, expenditure, availability of land, water and power, projects under implementation and proposed with resource requirement, tax structure and proposed enhancement to enable informed people's participation in urban development.
Naidu also said that there is a need for specialised municipal cadre to ensure quality municipal administration. He also suggested that there should be a special module on municipal administration as a component of training of IAS officers.
He said that the coming years will be crucial for economic development of the country and equally so for ensuring better urban governance since over 75 per cent of GDP is expected to be generated in urban areas.
In this context, he said that deficiencies in urban governance should be addressed through institution and capacity building, effective management of land and other utilities, governance reforms, empowering urban local bodies to make them effective institutions of urban governance and smart administrative and political leadership.
He said, huge private investments required for new urban development and housing initiatives can be mobilised only through quick, accountable and transparent decision making.
Naidu urged the states and UTs to learn from the experiences of implementation of JNNURM for better planning and execution of urban housing and development projects. Naidu said the meeting has been convened in pursuance of the direction of the Supreme Court in the matter of a PIL regarding shelters for homeless.
The apex court on November 13 had directed the HUPA Ministry to convene such a meeting within ten days for taking stock of availability of shelters and file an affidavit within three weeks, on the way forward.
"It is a serious issue and I fully share the concern of the apex court," he said adding "we should not be insensitive to the humanitarian concerns of urban poor who are without any kind of shelter and are forced to bear the harsh winter without any relief".
"If we can't provide reasonable shelter to such needy people, can we enable Housing for All by 2022 as committed by the government?," he asked.
The Housing Ministry will file the affidavit in court giving detail response on the issue soon.
Naidu assured that the central government will allow necessary flexibility in execution of centrally-sponsored schemes.
The minister underscored the need to blend the elements of nature and local culture while planning for urban areas to enable quality urban life.