Need for Inclusive Urban Planning to meet Challenges of Rapid Urbanisation : Dr Girija Vyas

Dr (Ms) Girija Vyas Minister of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation has stated that Urban planning and design should focus on how to bring people and places together, by creating right opportunity for work, leisure, education, healthcare, commerce and agro-produce farms in the vicinity, rather than simply increasing the length of urban transport infrastructure, She was speaking at the function orgainsed to celebrate the World Habitat Day 2013 here today . The function was attended by the representatives of the United Nations , senior officers of the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation and Housing and Urban Development Corporation ( HUDCO ).

The United Nations has designated the first Monday of October every year as World Habitat Day. This year, it will be celebrated on 7 October 2013. The purpose of World Habitat Day is to reflect on the state of our towns and cities and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It is also intended to remind the world that we all have responsibility to shape the future of our cities and towns. This year, the United Nations chose the theme “Urban Mobility” because mobility and access to goods and services is essential to the efficient functioning of our cities and towns as they expand. Accessible cities encourage a shift towards more sustainable modes of transportation and draw more and more travellers out of cars and onto trains, buses, bike paths, and sidewalks.

Speaking on the occasion Dr Girija Vyas,stated that the theme of “urban mobility” chosen for this year’s World Habitat Day is very relevant for India because mobility and access to goods and services is essential for the efficient functioning of our expanding cities and towns, she said. Accessible cities encourage a shift towards more sustainable modes of transportation and draw more and more travellers out of cars onto trains, buses, bike paths, and sidewalks, she stated.

She spoke of the rapid urbanization our country is witnessing and the challenge posed by it of mobility to urban planners and designers. But mobility is not just about the mode of transport we use, it is also about the efficient, fast and smart transportation of goods, services as well as people. She also spoke of how cities need to change their character from a car-driven community to an energy efficient community which can be approached by walk or cycle-rickshaw or bicycle or any other mode of non-motorized transport. She then spoke of inclusive planning and the need for it in our country. The Minister then stated that the housing shortage in urban areas is 18.78 million and of this shortage 96 per cent pertains to economically weaker sections and lower income group. She stated that the urban poor are forced to live in slums and other unauthorized colonies, far away from their livelihood centres, posing risks to their lives as well as their family, she said. Hence there is an urgent need to integrate mobility with livelihood for the urban poor and slum dwellers. The Minister then spoke about Rajiv Awas Yojana the programme aimed atcreating a Slum Free India, through a set of enabling policies and legislative framework for redeveloping existing slums and correcting the policies which forces creation of slums. She spoke of how RAY plans to tackle the residential vulnerability through Rights based approach of assignment of property rights to slum dwellers.She also stated that the Ministry is also working on providing housing and livelihood to urban residents through interest subsidy scheme- Rajiv Rinn Yojana; promoting Affordable Housing in partnership; and creating rental housing. She also spokeabout the Credit Guarantee Fund, which would ensure flow of cheap credit to urban poor to enable them easy access to housing.On the employment side,she said, the Ministry is actively pursuing the implementation of “the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill 2012 and the National Urban Livelihood Mission.

On the occasion , the Minister released the book “State of Slums in India - A Statistical Compendium-2013”. Speaking about this she said that this publication by NBO along with HUDCO and BMTPC provides important data regarding state of slums and related civic facilities viz. population, health, education and housing amenities. The compendium, she sated will serve as a valuable tool in the hands of policy makers, planners, administrators, researchers, civil society partners and other stake-holders in urban development and poverty alleviation.

07 October 2013