Urban Renewal Mission is not enough

Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the right things at Bangalore yesterday.

Ahluwalia said there is need to extend the ambit of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNURM), which right now focuses on 63 cities, to small towns to decongest metros and improve infrastructure in those areas.

The NURM initiative (sadly they have replaced “National” with “Jawaharlal Nehru” here) has to run in parallel with a similar large scale initiative that creates enticing infrastructure and employment at smaller semi-urban centers.

Tell me the real and biggest reason our cities are crowded and chaotic. It is the massive migration from rural areas. It killed Kolkata few decades ago. It is killing Mumbai these days. And Bangalore/Pune type places are certainly going to be next. As a country, we got to start thinking about creating jobs for low and mid skilled people in the rural and semi urban areas. I am afraid government sponsored Rojgar Yojnas are but feeble attempts. Enough of IT, retail, real-estate, flyovers and all the urban development focused talk. Let us alos think hi-tech agriculture, food processing and manufacturing at low cost centers and alike. Hopefuly, the so-hot idea of SEZs will help.

There has to be investment in smaller towns – so called tier III or grade C – with effort to create mid-skilled jobs and infrastructure there. Running with NURM alone will mean that perceived gap between bigger cities and these semi-urban towns will only grow. And that in turn, will fuel even more migration. So, if I had 100000 crores in hand as a minister, I would start and run a Rural Renewal Mission hand in hand with with a URM.

Mr Ahluwalia seems to be thinking in that direction when he talks of “all-inclusive” growth. I like that.


3 Responses

  1. People need to ask – what causes metros to congest. What causes the need for infrastructure, what causes the need for people to move around. The main cause is that place of living and place of work being far apart.
    Why do people come to cities – because they get jobs there. Fine. Then why do these people cause congestion – because the place where they live and the place where they work is far away. But why is it far away, cant the bakra live next doors to where he works. But the bakra says there is no civilization support ecosystem (schools, hospitals, groceries, vegetables etc.) near where he works or some reason like he rented or bought the far away place because of cost effectiveness. Next question – why there is no civilization support or why the costs are high near offices. Well there are some rules that say this area ought to be residential and that area ought to be commercial, but there is no rule that connects users of this commerical area ought to live in this close residential area. Sometimes commercial areas are far flung outside the city limits where there are no other ecosystems. So as a society we never thought the solution would be so simple. It is so simple there ought to be some problem with it, simply scary.

    Coming to the rural development we can check if the following are available
    1. drinking water
    2. Sanitation
    3. Power – Reliable Power
    4. Roads
    5. Hospitals
    6. Schools
    7. Airports (needed for exporting companies)
    8. Communications infra

  2. Scarlet, read this talk of “mixed use” at India Together. Talks stuff – live closer to work. And I agree, that model fits our crowded cities lot better.

  3. Yes, I agree with creating jobs for the low and mid skilled people. There is a real need here. We need more of these types of positions here in the US.

    Thank you,


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