Urbanisation is one of the most glaring realities of the 21st century. All over the world, people are moving towards the cities. The bright lights of the cities, the perception that cities give greater opportunities and the desire to be at the heart of a 'fast life' are drawing people to cities. However, urbanisation brings with it its fair share of problems. Can the infrastructure of our cities bear the strain? What happens to our villages?
It has also become a fashion to berate everything associated with urbanisation. In the midst of such misplaced pessimism, a solution has been offered by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Modi's insightful thoughts on urbanisation are crystal clear, i.e., urbanisation is not and should not be viewed as a challenge. We should take it in our stride and turn it into an opportunity. Modi has practiced what he speaks and no wonder Gujarat has made great strides in urban development while at the same time enhancing the quality of life in its villages. This article gives you an insight into these very advances under Narendra Modi that once again set apart Gujarat from the rest of India.
India and Urbanisation: The Current Scenario
It is a known fact that urbanisation levels in India are increasing as times passes by. From 28.1% of the population (approximately 286 million people) in 2001, we now have 31.16% (over 377.1 million people) of our population inhabiting cities. Urbanisation levels in some states are rising faster than the others. In fact, by 2030, 75% of India's GDP will be generated from urban areas. We are home to some of the world's largest cities and there is a dream of a prosperous urban life in the by-lanes of most Indian villages. The above facts indicate that urbanisation is something that is here to stay.
With such fast pace urbanisation, have we risen to the occasion and embraced urbanisation the way we should have? Unfortunately, we have not. Urbanisation is still seen as a challenge in our nation. This is partly due to 'fears' created on what will come with it. But, it is equally true that we will not be able to stop urbanisation. Hence, it is better we see this as an opportunity and if we adopt this approach, we can really make a big difference in our cities.
Urbanisation and Gujarat: Giant Strides ahead
This is exactly what Gujarat under Narendra Modi has done. Gujarat ranks among the most urbanised states in India with about 42.5% of the state's population living in urban areas. The state has 8 Municipal Corporations and 159 municipalities and some of its cities are among the fastest growing in the world. Recently, Ahmedabad was declared the best of India's Mega Cities and it was declared the 3rd fastest growing city in the world by Forbes, ranking behind only Chengdu and Chongqing.
It is refreshing to note that unlike several other state Governments, the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat Government is fully responsive to the emergent needs of urbanisation and equally geared up to convert the challenges that come with it into opportunities. The state's plan provision for urban infrastructure stands at Rs 5670 crore, which is 45 times increase from the expenditure that merely stood at Rs 127 crore in 2000-2001.
Right at the beginning of his tenure, Modi envisioned the launch of 2 programmes dedicated to the improvement of urban areas across the length and breadth of Gujarat. There was the 'Urban Year' initiative, which was a large-scale drive to improve urban infrastructure and amenities. The Nirmal Gujarat annual drive was started with the quest for all round cleanliness, sanitation, integrated waste management, rejuvenation of water bodies, expansion of green cover and energy efficiency.
Invigorating Gujarat's Development Journey With New Ideas And Effective Implementation
Gujarat has invigorated the development journey in it's cities with innovative ideas and speedy implementation for long term, robust urban growth. In the last decade, the Government has started a series of programmes dedicated to urban areas that have generated wonderful results.
Gujaratis have entrepreneurship in their veins and are blessed with the urge to derive maximum utility out of any given thing. Keeping this ethos in mind, the state Government came up with a similar Mantra of developing the state's urban space with the '2 for 1' Mantra as encapsulated by the Twin City Model. Through this model, the Government aims to bring together cities that are in geographic proximity but where there is a gap in their pace of development. Gujarat has embraced the Twin City Model very innovatively and are developing vibrant twin cities like Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad, Surendranagar-Wadhwan, Surat-Navsari, Vadodara-Halol, Bharuch-Ankleshwar and Morbi-Wankaner. These Twin Cities will add renewed strength to Gujarat's quest for development and good governance.