Indian cities are in a transition phase and this seems the right time to frame National Urban Policy that should integrate policy-frameworks for different urban sectors and improve collaboration and cooperation among different development agencies. All stakeholders must participate in formulating the draft and ensure it becomes a guiding force for urban development in future
rbanisation in India has been haphazard. Cities and towns sprung up without being planned by governments. Mostly economic opportunities, industrialization and their geographical proximity to big cities led to their development. Gurugram, Noida, Greater Noida, Navi Mumbai, Gandhi Nagar and Cyberabad are some of the examples. These were not planned from the scratch and urban planners and city leaders of these cities did not have a vision for the growth of cities. Planning by private builders paved the way for city-layout, design and further, their demands decided what the city required.
The economic prosperity of these cities has been undoubtedly wonderful but a majority of these mushrooming cities lack equitable distribution of urban infrastructure and civic services across the city. Almost every city has the rich and poor divide but this phenomenon is much evident in these cities. We are standing at a perfect time when the urban transformation is picking up its speed. This seems the perfect time for a course correction.
Governments and other stakeholders must have a handy framework for urban development so that they can steer the direction of sustainable development. The government of India along with many other nations has committed in Habitat III event that it will have a National Urban Policy. According to report, only one-third countries have a national urban policy in place and a very few among developing countries have such a policy. This is worrying because the trend of urbanization will be witnessed at a fast pace in the developing countries of Asia and Africa. It is estimated that the global urban population will have increased from less than one billion in 1950 to roughly six billion by 2050, and to around nine billion by 2100, corresponding to close to 85 per cent of the projected total population.
More specifically, a National Urban Policy can strengthen the alignment of national and local policies affecting urban development; empower local authorities and communities, grassroots organizations, social and traditional leaders, women’s movements and civil society at large; promote shared urban dividends throughout the territory and actors, and increase investment in urban areas by improving the business environment; and foster cooperation and collaboration across jurisdictions, for instance by overcoming metropolitan fragmentation. The government must engage various stakeholders and should not formulate a policy just for the compliance of its commitment made at an international forum. This is an opportunity which I think will be utilized for drawing a strategic roadmap for cities of the future.