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$250-bn Investment Needed For Urban Infra: Naidu

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India needs to invest an estimated $250 billion over next 20 years for basic urban infrastructure offering a huge investment opportunity, Union Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday (7 October).

"As per the estimates of a high-powered committee, we need to invest $250 billions over the next 20 years to put in place basic urban infrastructure relating to transport, water supply, sanitation and solid waste management alone.

This offers a huge investment opportunity and we are committed to promote private domestic and foreign investment in a big way," Naidu said.

There are ample opportunities for the international investors to come and invest in India and particularly in urban India, because the government has decided to allow FDI in infrastructure also, the minister said at the XI Metropolis World Congress that got underway here.

At the current level of urbanisation itself, urban areas in India are contributing to around 60 per cent of the GDP which is estimated to rise to 75 per cent in another 10 to 15 years, he said.

"It is for this reason that urbanisation is seen as a driver of economic growth. It means urban areas are engines of growth and this is the reality," he said.

Stressing the need for bringing in reforms in urban governance, transparency and accountability in the system, he said people must be able to have hassle-free administration, online registration, online sanction of plans and approvals.

"We must have digitisation of land records and property details of the cities. Hyderabad has shown the way in this regard. Because of digitisation of records, the revenue of Hyderabad has increased manifold and I am confident that other cities of the country will follow the same," he said.

The Centre will fund the scheme of digitisation of the property details of every city that will go a long way in increasing revenue of urban bodies of the country, Naidu said.

Urbanisation is a reality and it's a challenge, but Government of India wants to convert this challenge into a great opportunity and improve living standards of the people, he said.

"The states and the Centre, together we want to work as team India and see to it that people are provided with basic amenities both in urban as well as rural areas," he added.

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in rural areas. 54 per cent of the world's population is residing in urban areas, as per the census of 2014. It is expected that 66 per cent of the global population could be urban by 2050, Naidu said.

In India, as per the 2011 census, 31 per cent population (377 million people) is living in urban areas. The projected figure by 2050 is that more than 50 per cent of the Indian population would be urbanised.

"That is the reality that we have to prepare and gear up to this challenge and convert it into an opportunity," he said.

As the world continues to urbanise, sustainable developmental challenges will be increasingly confronted in cities particularly in the lower and middle income countries where the pace of urbanisation is fastest, the minister said.

The primary challenge that accompanies the growing urbanisation is to ensure 'inclusivity'.

"We need to ensure that every urban resident feels involved in the socio-economic and cultural landscape of the city that he had come to live in and thereby make him 'own that city' rather than being subjected to the feeling that he is 'not wanted and has no hope'.

Efficient planning and effective urban management are very critical to enable urbanisation that is sustainable in social, economical and ecological terms, he said.

"It is in this context we have envisioned the development of 100 'smart cities' as satellite towns of larger cities and by modernising the existing mid-sized cities," Naidu said.

A smart city is the effective integration of physical, digital and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future of all its citizens.

It delivers public and civic services to citizens and businesses in an integrated, resource efficient manner while enabling innovative collaborations to improve quality of life and grow the local and national economy, he added.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Governor ESL Narasimhan and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao were among those who spoke at the inaugural ceremony.