Urban Development Current Affairs

Government merges Ministries of Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation  

The Union Government has merged the Ministries of Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation to form the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

With this merger, the Union Government now has 51 ministries. In 2004, there were total 42 ministries. The first government in independent India had just 17 ministries. 

Key Facts

The merger of ministries involved in policy making in urban areas into single ministry will help to ensure cohesiveness in formulating policies related to urban issues and cut the flab in bureaucracy.

These two ministries have a long history of mergers and de-mergers. This is third time the ministries have been merged. In 1952, they were one ministry which was known as the Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply. They were demerged in 1999, merged again in 2000 and bifurcated again in 2004.

Background

The recent merger of ministries was based on the recommendation of a panel of secretaries. The panel in February 2017 had recommended the merger of the two ministries to increase efficiency in governance. It had recommended that the ministries of housing and urban poverty alleviation, and urban development be merged and that the AYUSH and pharmaceuticals ministries be brought under the Health Ministry. The panel also recommended the need to corporatise the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

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Quality of Life: Government launches Index to Rank 116 Cities

The urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has launched its first liveability index which will rank the country’s 116 major cities on the basis of the quality of life.

Salient Highlights

The index named ‘City Liveability Index’ will cover cities with a population above one million, including the capital cities.

The index will help cities to analyse where they stand in terms of the quality of life. It will help them to come up with interventions required to improve it.

The index will assess cities based on a comprehensive set of 79 parameters such as availability of roads, education, healthcare, mobility, employment opportunities, emergency response, grievance redressal, pollution, availability of open and green spaces, cultural and entertainment opportunities etc.

The rankings based on the index would be released in 2018.

Soon, the government will select the agency for undertaking the assessment and data collection for the rankings would be completed in the next 6 months.

Incentives to States

The urban development minister has disbursed Rs500 crore as an incentive to 16 states that have performed well in implementing urban reforms during 2016-17.

Andhra Pradesh has topped the list of 16 states with the highest score in implementing urban schemes. The second place has been occupied by Odisha which is followed by Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala, Goa, Mizoram, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

While ranking, the progress achieved by these states in terms of reforms like e-governance, an audit of accounts, tax revision policies, extent of tax revenue collection, energy and water audit, establishing state level financial intermediaries for resource mobilisation and credit rating was taken into account.

Further, it has been proposed by the government to increase the incentive fund to Rs 10,000 crore for the next three years to promote next generation urban reforms.

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