Empowering local bodies is important

Empowering local bodies is important

Urban India is being transformed with an aim to achieve good quality of life. To re-shape and re-imagine the current status of the Indian city, endless initiatives are being taken on the political and economic fronts by the government.

In an attempt to discuss these initiatives, Professor KT Ravindran and Shrawan K Acharya hosted “Reshaping the Indian City – Convergence in the New Urban Agenda” a talk under NIUA-ADB-IHC Urban Dialogues at the India Habitat Centre recently.

Addressing the seven recent moves taken by the government, including issues like Smart Cities, the Sardar Patel National Urban Housing Mission and the 74th Constitutional Amendment amongst others, Prof. Ravindran spoke about how the development of the Urban local bodies alone, can foster the growth and development of the Indian cities.

Discussing each of the seven initiatives in detail, he said, “Citizen-centric urban planning, which includes a detailed and healthy participation of citizens, is very important. Given the estimate of 40 per cent of the population living in urban areas by 2026, one has to realise the urgency and necessity of proper planning, based on citizen engagement.”

The clashes between the centre and state relations are all too familiar. However, the concept of urban development is entirely subject to the state, and not the centre.

“The serious gaps between the formulation of these initiatives and the design of their implementation processes clearly signify that as a country, we lack the technical capacity to handle so many projects,” Prof. Ravindran said.

Meanwhile, the talk also included discussions on the concept of smart cities,-which according to Prof. Ravindran, are “cities on steroids”, the HRIDAY scheme of the government, the issues under the 74th Amendment and much more.
Commenting on the session, Sharawan K Acharya said, “The discussion has proved to be a good platform to discuss these issues in depth, which are otherwise incomprehensible for a lot of people.” He emphasised on the importance of using the available resources properly and efficiently. “In all our discourses, urbanisation is centred on a few mainstream areas alone, wherein a lot of issues remain hidden or are completely ignored.”

Referring to the famous quote, ‘Rome was not built in a day’, Acharya said, “the Indian cities have been smart for quite a long while but we haven’t been able to understand that the smartness is incremental.”
“One is only talking about centre-state relations. Whereas, it is the local bodies that need to be the topic of discussion. We need to bring them into the limelight, we need to empower them,” he said.

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