The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was envisaged in 2005 to improve the general urban infrastructure. The achievements realized under this plan by the government are commendable. The current JNNURM plan was scheduled to expire on March 2012 last year. However, owing to its extreme popularity and success, on January 17, 2013, the Union Cabinet extended it until March 31, 2014. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh headed this particular Cabinet meeting in which the decision of extending the current JNNURM plan was taken. The Centre is now drawing up the blueprint for a second JNNURM plan, with an expansion of urban developmental activities, involving a considerable upgrade in investment. In his opening address to the assembly of the attending delegates during the commencement session of the World Cities Summit in Singapore on July 2, 2012, Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath unraveled the Phase II of the JNNURM scheme involving a budget of USD 40 billion for a period of five years.
The new JNNURM Scheme
While the current JNNURM scheme has been extended, the Union Urban Development Ministry is currently envisaging a new JNNURM plan on a more capacious and detailed scale, with an proposed investment increase of up to 75%. The plans outlined in the new scheme, though focused mainly on improving urban infrastructure in more cities, will also include beneficiary projects for the urban poor, such as development plans for slums and shanty areas, development of roads with new installations for better street lighting, improved drainage systems, and proper management of solid waste. The new scheme stresses the importance of e-governance to establish Indian Institutes of Urban Management throughout the country. The empowerment of the local urban entities to impose a new tax structure to promote exchequer returns is also included in this scheme.
The Planning Commission member Arun Maria had arrived at the decision of putting together a new functional team under the Secretary, Urban Development, vested with the responsibility of drawing up the second phase of the JNNURM scheme, as a consequence of a prolonged discussion with interested parties. The proposed new team is already in place, outlining Phase II of the plan. The new JNNURM scheme will address the areas of urban infrastructure development previously untouched by the current scheme. The planned investment for the second phase will amount to Rs. 2 lakh crores in comparison with Rs 1.2 lakh crores earlier. While the High Powered Expert Committee (HPEC) will demarcate the areas of urban framework requiring refurbishment along with the cost estimation involved, the new scheme will provide a special impetus to the identified areas.
Some government initiatives under the current JNNURM scheme
With the extension of the current JNNURM scheme, several projects have been sanctioned. The responsibilities of these projects have been vested with the Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG), and Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT), which are integral parts of the existing JNNURM scheme. Several assignments under the JNNURM scheme have been acquired by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHPC). However, a number of projects are still in the developmental stage, total budget for which amounts to Rs 870 crore. The projects still in the developmental stage are the following:
- Solid waste recycling and management
- Restructuring of drainage systems
- Construction of a road connecting Raj Bhavan and Begumpet
- Construction of an overpass at Tolichowki
- Laying of railway lines under the bridge (Rail under Bridge-RUB) at Uttamnagar
- Reconstruction and development of roads like the Botanical Garden Road, Yellamabanda Road and the Mind Space Road (Kukatpally)
The grants for the proposed projects are being provided by Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG), and Basic Service to the Urban Poor (BSUP).
So far the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has acquired 27 JNNURM assignments worth Rs. 2,300 crore, inclusive of 10 UIG projects, 17 BSUP projects, and several proposed housing schemes. While projects like the constructions of overpasses in Punjagutta, Chandrayangutta and Greenlands–directly under the supervision of the JNNURM–were completed well within the scheduled time, the performance of GHMC has been poor. The progress in restructuring of the drainage system by the GHMC is considerably slow, owing to obstructions in underground storm-water drainage system, and the housing projects are decelerating. Construction of only 17,000 houses has been achieved out of the proposed 52,000. However, GHMC engineer-in-chief, R. Dhan Singh assured completion of the awaiting projects by the scheduled date of March 31, 2014.
In yet another instance, the state of Karnataka has been allocated 2,000 buses, with 20 buses for Bhatinda (Punjab), under the existing JNNURM scheme. This is accompanied by amenities like bus stands, ‘ITS systems’, workshops for repairing and controlling centers. The larger plan of the Urban Development Ministry is dissemination of 10,000 buses to the different states under the JNNURM scheme. Of these, 2,000 have been kept in reserve to be used solely for the purposes of the north-eastern regions and the other hill areas. Presently Tamilnadu has a requirement of 3,000 buses to be used as city transport while Andhra Pradesh has put in a request for 1,200 such city buses.
The fertile brains in our government hatch many developmental projects during every Five Year Plan, a majority of which are abandoned midway, with some even at the theoretical stage owing to lack of feasibility, coordination, funds and/or manpower. But the JNNURM scheme (perceived in 2005 for development of urban framework) is a time-tested one, and has been consolidating the urban infrastructure of the country for almost a decade. The high success rate and the consistency of the scheme have earned it an extension (due to expire in 2012) from the Government till March 31, 2014. The fruitfulness of the scheme has inspired the Government to conceive a Phase II of the scheme, which will be more expansive and involve almost twice the investment. The Phase II of JNNURM will undertake urban developmental issues that were not addressed by the existing scheme. So, we can expect extensive modernisation even in the small towns and cities of India in the next five years during the second phase of the JNNURM scheme.