Urban Development Current Affairs

Government announces 9 new Smart Cities

Union Minister of Housing and Urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri has announced a new batch of 9 smart cities under Smart City Mission. With the addition of these 9 smart cities in the fourth round, the total cities picked up under Smart City Mission have reached 99.

Key Facts

The nine cities include three from Uttar Pradesh –Moradabad, Bareilly and Saharanpur, Bihar Sharif (Bihar), Silvassa (Dadra and Nagar Havelli), Erode (Tamil Nadu), Daman and Diu, Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) and Kavaratti (Lakshadweep). The selected nine cities have proposed an investment of Rs 12,824 crore. This will impact 35.3 lakh persons living in these areas.

The total proposed investment in 99 cities will be to the tune of Rs 2.03 lakh crore. As on January 2018, 189 projects worth Rs. 2237 crore were completed and another 2,948 projects worth Rs. 1.38 lakh crore are in various stages of implementation.

Background

The Smart City Mission is flagship scheme of Union Government that will cover 100 cities and its duration is five years (2015-16 to 2019-20). The focus of mission is on sustainable and inclusive development and set examples which can be replicated in other parts of the city and other cities of the country.

Under the scheme, each city will get Rs.500 crore (Rs. 100 crore per year) from the Centre for implementing various projects. Centre is going to spent Rs. 48,000 crore over five years. States will contribute matching fund of Rs. 48,000 crore from their internal resources or through market borrowing and through private sector.

The selection of the cities was based on scores of cities for carrying out urban reforms in areas including sanitation and governance. Cities that score highest were picked for the project, to be implemented over a 10-year period.

There are 10 core infrastructure elements to be undertaken under Smart City Mission viz. adequate water supply; assured electricity supply; efficient urban mobility and public transport; sanitation, including solid waste management; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly; and health and education.

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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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