Indian cities: Niti Aayog proposes to develop a global economic vision for Indian cities

Niti Aayog has proposed relaxation of building laws to boost land availability and direct benefit transfer schemes such as rental housing vouchers for economically weaker sections as it aims to harness the economic potential of all cities, big or small, through planned urbanization.

“As India transitions from a largely rural to an urban society, emphasis must be placed on harnessing the economic potential of all cities, large and small, including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities to take over in the future. This requires cities to be managed appropriately,” Aayog said in its report, Cities as Engines of Growth, prepared jointly with the Asian Development Bank.

According to the report, India is already the second largest urban community in the world and the country is expected to add an additional 416 million people to its cities by 2050, bringing the urban share of the population to 50%. Nearly 460 million resided in Indian cities in 2018 compared to 109 million in 1970.

According to the report, Indian cities are centrally positioned to propel India’s economic growth as they occupy only 3% of the country’s land, but their contribution to GDP is massive at around 60%, although mostly limited. to major cities such as Bangalore, Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Pune.

The report proposes to develop a global long-term economic vision (10-15 years), to set up a municipal economic council and to create a promotion and marketing budget for cities.

“Creating differentiated incentive policies to attract investment to smaller and underdeveloped cities and a city-level one-stop-shop for service sector industries based within the natural city limits such as hospitality, healthcare, business developments and education,” the report said.

Furthermore, he suggested adopting an integrative regional approach to planning by delineating the greater urban region with resilient infrastructure and planning the city and commuting regions together.

“Develop a capital investment plan to identify projects and programs that are economically self-sufficient and preferably revenue-generating,” he added.

In addition, he proposed the digitization of land registration systems and the integration of institutions responsible for revenue, registration and surveying functions at the state level to harmonize land registration data.

“Explore alternative models for land acquisition and the assembly and relaxation of building laws that may limit the supply of land,” he said.

The report also proposed to improve the existing economically weaker section or housing stock for low-income groups through gradual in-situ improvement and to explore alternative models for providing rental housing close to work centres.

“Expand direct benefit transfer programs such as rental housing vouchers and leverage existing funding that is already available in state and central government programs for vulnerable groups,” he added.