Urban Scenario of India

Cities matter. Today, just over half of the world’s population lives in urbanized areas. This share is expected to increase rapidly in coming decades, alongside rising incomes and a shift away from agriculture and rural economies. India, as a country making up one-sixth of the world’s population, is at the forefront of this change.

The total urban population living in India’s towns and cities has increased consistently over the last century. Between the period of 1961- 2011, the rate of urbanization, spurred by post-independence agrarian transitions (1950- 70s) and the economic policies of liberalisation (1990’s), increased from 17.6 per cent in 1961 to 31 per cent. (Table 1 and Fig. 1).



This growth is made more acute by India’s surging youth population. As one of the fastest growing workforces in the world, the net working age population in India is anticipated to increase by 270 million over the next 20 years, the bulk of which will be absorbed by cities. (Fig. 2 and Fig. 3)



As it stands, about two thirds of India’s economic output is located in its cities. These cities are where 70 per cent of net new jobs between now and 2030 are also expected to be generated. Yet, urbanization in India has proved itself to be distinct in many ways and the patterns of human settlement emerging as a result, far from uniform. Whilst urbanization in the post-Independence period was predominantly led by migration to the cities, today, although metropolitan regions are expanding, parallel processes of sub-urbanization are also occurring at their peripheries. Breaking away from the rural-urban dichotomy, we also see smaller towns merging to form into urban agglomerations, and the emergence of statutory and census towns through the in-situ development of rural areas into manufacturing and service-based economies. This is further complicated by regional variations. States with higher economic growth and a greater concentration of industries. for example, exhibit particularly high levels of urbanization, whilst most others are far from achieving this status (Table 2 and Table 3).



Major policy measures for urban development under India’s Five Year Plans

While urbanization in India holds the potential for delivering a higher quality of life for a larger share of citizens, it simultaneously raises novel challenges for governments and urban planners today. As a result of poorly managed or unplanned urbanization, many of India’s cities contend with unsustainable levels of stress on infrastructure, resources and public services. In being high density hubs for industrial and manufacturing activities, they are also subject to deteriorating air quality and are a major contributor to carbon emissions globally. With the urban population set to increase over the coming decade, the risks of not responding to such issues in a timely manner, are grave.

To deal with the evolving challenges of a rapidly urbanising India, since Independence, the Government of India has implemented a series of Five-Year Plans (link to pdf) in which the major policies and programmes for urban development in the country are reviewed and reworked to address the most pressing concerns. Since its establishment in 1976, NIUA has been an integral part of this effort. Seeking to bridge the gaps between research and policy, the institute works closely with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to identify key areas of investigation and uses its technical expertise to guide the Government in steering the country’s urban narrative towards a sustainable, inclusive and equitable future for all.

First Plan(1951-56)

Main importance was given for construction of institution building, houses for government employees and weaker section of the people under the Centre subsidized scheme.

Second Plan (1956- 61)

1.Industrial Housing Scheme was broadened to include all workers.
2.Preparation of Master Plans (e.g., Delhi Development Authority (DDA)) for important towns by setting up the Town & Country Planning Legislations.

Third Plan (1961-66)

1.Through urban planning and land policy measures (such as, the control of urban land values through public acquisition) imbalance and asymmetry were sought to be removed in the development of large, medium, and small industries, and between rural and urban areas.
2.The State capitals of Gandhi Nagar and Bhubaneswar were developed, and Master Plans for important cities were prepared.

Fourth Plan (1969-74)

1.To provide fund for housing and urban development programs, Housing & Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) was established.
2.The creation of smaller towns and plan for the spatial location of economic activity were envisaged for decongestion of population in the large cities.
3.To provide a minimum level of services, like, water supply, drainage, sewerage, street pavements in 11 cities with a population of 8 lakhs, an environmental or urban slum improvement scheme was commenced in the Central Sector.

Fifth Plan (1974-79)

1.To prevent concentration of urban land holding and to use them for construction of houses for the middle and low income group, the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act was set up and was passed in 1976.
2.In order to ease the increasing pressure on urbanization a Task Force was set up by giving particular emphasis on a comprehensive and regional approach by considering the problem in metropolitan cities.

Sixth Plan (1980-85)

1.To encourage setting up the new industries, commercial and professional establishments in small, medium and intermediate towns, positive inducements were suggested.
2.The major focus was on integrated provision of basic services for the poor. The Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) was launched in towns with population below one lakh for provision of roads, pavements, minor civic works, markets, shopping complex, bus stands, etc.

Seventh Plan (1985-90)

1.To encourage setting up the new industries, commercial and professional establishments in small, medium and intermediate towns, positive inducements were suggested.
2.The major focus was on integrated provision of basic services for the poor. The Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) was launched in towns with population below one lakh for provision of roads, pavements, minor civic works, markets, shopping complex, bus stands, etc.1.To expand the base of housing finance, the National Housing Bank was set up
3.To promote commercial production of innovative building materials, Building Material Technology Promotion Council (BMTPC) and a network of Building Centres were set up.
4.For the first time, this Plan also considered the problem of the urban poor and Urban Basic Services for the Poor (UBSP), Global Shelter Strategy (GSS), and National Housing Policy (NHP) were announced in 1988.

Eighth Plan (1992-97)

1. The Constitution (74th) Amendment Act, 1992 was made with a view to improve governance at the grass roots by stressing upon decentralization and creation of democratic governance structure; devolution of funds and responsibilities was ensured for fulfilling the needs and aspirations of urban residents.
2. For the first time, this Plan identified the role and importance of urban sector for the national economy and recognized the significance of the following issues:
i. Poor suffered due to huge gap between demand and supply of infrastructural services.
ii. Housing shortage caused by the unabated growth of urbanization.
iii.Higher level of incidence of urban poverty and marginal employment.

Ninth Plan (1997–02)

1. The Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY)was launched, to provide gainful employment to the unemployed or underemployed poor by encouraging the setting up of self-employment ventures or provision of wage employment.
2. The Urban Self Employment Programme (USEP).
3.The Urban Wage Employment Programme (UWEP).
4. Nehru Rozgar Yojana (NRY) to provide employment to the urban unemployed and underemployed poor.
5. Urban Basic Services for the Poor (UBSP) to achieve the social sector goals.
6. Prime Minister's Integrated Urban Poverty Eradication Programme (PM IUPEP) for
7. Class II urban agglomerations development of urban poor.

Tenth Plan (2002-07)

1. Strengthening urban governance by judicious devolution of functions and funds to the elected bodies and ULBs.
2. Land Policy and Housing: The repeal of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 was a significant step towards reform in the urban land market.
3. Mapping, urban indicators and data from the urban sector: Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO) was established for urban mapping based on aerial photography.
4. Extending Plan Assistance for infrastructure through various programmes, such as, Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP), IDSMT, Mega city Scheme, etc.
5. Urban poverty alleviation and slum improvement.
6. Improvement of civic amenities in urban areas through improvement in urban water supply, urban sanitation, and urban transport.

Eleventh Plan (2007-12)

1. Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
2. Urban Reform Incentive Fund (URIF)
3. Mega city scheme Integrated Development of Small and Medium towns (IDSMT)
4. Pooled Finance Development Fund (PFDF)
5. Development of satellite cities/counter Magnet cities
6. E-governance in municipalities National Urban Information System (NUIS).
7. National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB).
8. Strengthening urban local bodies through capacity building and better financial management.
9. Increasing the efficiency and productivity of cities by deregulation and development of land.
10. Dismantling public sector monopoly over urban infrastructure and creating conducive atmosphere for the private sector to invest.
11. Establishing autonomous regulatory framework to oversee the functioning of the public and private sector. Using technology and innovation in a big way.
12. Swarna Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY)
13. Reducing incidence of poverty.
14. Accelerated Urban Water Supply Programme (AUWSP).
15. Improvement of urban basic services which includes water supply and solid waste management, others.

Twelfth Plan (2012-17)

1. Rapid Mass Transport (RMT) for better transportation system.
2. Reform of the urban water sector.
3. Efficient use of urban land.
4. Long-term strategic urban planning with the overall regional planning perspective.
5. The environmental sustainability of urban development.
6. Investment in new urban infrastructure assets and maintenance of assets.
7. Need to strengthen urban governance
8. To strengthen ‘soft infrastructure’
9. Improvements of urban utilities such as water and sewerage
10.NUHM (National Urban Health Mission) for better urban public health.
11. Need to fulfill the basic needs of the urban poor.