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Urban Renewal Mission not an elitist programme: PM

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 3 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today cautioned the policy makers and implementers against taking the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission(JNNURM) ''as an elitist project to beautify cities'' and said it was an important social and economic intervention in urban development aimed at improving the quality of the life of the poor.

Chairing a review meeting of the programme, the Prime Minister said, ''The JNNURM should improve basic services in urban areas and make our cities more liveable for all.'' Dr Singh complimented the Union Ministry of Urban Development for taking up eight city development plans within three months of launching the Mission.

Reporting the progress in the implementation of the Mission, Union Minister for Urban Development Jaipal Reddy informed the meeting that within three months of the launch of the Mission, eight cities in four states had already submitted city development plans and had indicated their commitment to city level reform initiatives to secure entitlement to funds under the Mission.

These cities are Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Indore, Nagpur, Rajkot, Surat, and Vijawada, said Mr Reddy. He expressed the hope that more cities will come forward and seek to benefit from the JNNURM. Many other are now preparing City Development Plans. There are 63 cities being covered under the ambitious programme.

Among the reforms that cities will have to undertake under this Mission are slum improvement programmes and resource mobilisation initiatives. State governments will have to rationalise and reduce stamp duty. Public Disclosure and Community Participation laws would have to be enacted to reform urban governance.

Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia urged state governments to "use JNNURM funds to improve urban services like provision of drinking water and sanitation and creation of public spaces, rather than just build flyovers." Union Minister of State for Poverty Alleviation and Urban Employment Ms. Selja said, public participation in drawing up "city development plans" was vital to the success of the reform and development effort.

Participants at the meeting, including urban planner O P Mathur and urban activist Sheela Patel, emphasised the need for creating more "caring cities".

Sharing the Prime Minister's vision, Mr Nandan Nilekani, CEO of Infosys and Member of the advisory group said, the Urban Renewal Mission "does not view the poor and the migrants as a burden, but in fact views them as a resource." UNI NAZ ARB BS1817

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