Kamal Nath
The Union Minister for Urban Development, Kamal Nath (5th from left) chairing the 2nd meeting of the Sub-Committee of the National Development Council (NDC) on Urbanization Programme, in New Delhi on February 06, 2012. The Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, Kumari Selja, the Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, the Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and other dignitaries are also seen.PIB

Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath on Monday highlighted the daunting challenges of urbanization in India and stressed the need to facilitate the process of efficient urbanization.

Participating in a discussion on a report presented by the NDC's sub-committee on urbanization issues in New Delhi, Nath said that capacity building should focus on elected representatives and urban institutions and centres of excellence should be strengthened.

The report on urbanization issues seeks to strengthen the process of democratic decentralization by making urban local bodies more responsive and closer to the people.

"This is essential for the creation of economically vibrant, inclusive, efficient and sustainable urban habitats," the minister said.

Highlighting the theme of effective governance, Nath said that urban local bodies must become efficient, responsive, citizen-friendly, transparent and accountable. To achieve this, they need to be empowered by more funds, responsibilities and functionaries.

The report, which noted that capacity building is a long-term process, seeks to strengthen urban institutions and centres of excellence.  It also proposes to establish municipal cadres in each state.

Participating in the discussion, Nath said: "The report acknowledges the poor financial state of Indian municipalities and proposes that the financial jurisdiction of the Urban Local Bodies (ULB) should be clearly defined in the constitution itself. The local bodies should have a fiscal responsibility framework for ensuring proper fiscal discipline."

The report also recommends that the local bodies must explore innovative means to raise resources such as monetization of land. Public private partnership and viability gap funding must be encouraged.

As a part of the strategy to improve the urban planning approach, the report proposes a three-tier integrated spatial development mechanism comprising district/metropolitan development plan at regional level, development plan at city level and zonal/ward plan at local level.

The NDC had constituted the sub-committee on urbanization issues headed by the Union Minister of Urban Development. The chief ministers of some states are members. The committee's report will be considered by the NDC for its consideration.