Thursday, 19 April 2018

Two day Regional Conference on “Urban Development: Technological Solutions and Governance Challenges” begins in Ahmedabad today

Panelists focus on capacity building, informed decisions, proper planning and focus on recycling and reuse of resources among others

The Ministry of Finance, Government of India in collaboration with the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Gujarat Council along with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), an autonomous research organization under the Ministry of External Affairs organised the 2-day Regional Conference on “Urban Development: Technological Solutions and Governance Challenges” which began in Ahmedabad today. The Conference is a lead-up event to the 3rd Annual Meeting of AIIB scheduled to be held on 25th and 26th June, 2018 in Mumbai.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Kumar V. Pratap, Joint Secretary (Infrastructure, Policy & Finance), Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India said that one third of the Indian population, which lives in urban areas, contributes more than half to the GDP and therefore, urban dwellers are among the most productive segments of the population. He emphasized that augmenting urban infrastructure will cost a lot of money. However, Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) own revenues as a percent of GDP is very low below 1%. According to the Economic Survey 2016-17 of the Ministry of Finance estimates that currently Bengaluru and Jaipur are collecting not more than 5 to 20% of their property tax potential. This implies that cities could increase their resources 5 to 20 fold from property taxes only. He also gave details about the catalytic missions such as Smarty City Mission, AMRUT and the Swachh Bharat Mission of the Central Ministries. 

Mr. Mukesh Puri, Principal Secretary, Department of Urban development and Urban Housing, Government of Gujarat spoke about the Governance Challenges and how the administration is planning to overcome those challenges. He said that around 70% of GDP of Gujarat, the tax is coming from the urban areas and there are still many such areas which needs to come under the Corporation for collection of tax for infrastructure development. He spoke about the Government & Corporation Plan of deputing Regional Municipal Commissioners in various areas for unlocking the assets and covering the untapped potential of the local bodies in the State. He also spoke about the town planning schemes of Gujarat and the spending of AUDA for infrastructural development. He said that AUDA has a capital of 1000 crores for 2018-19 out of which 250 crores has been spent on infrastructural development. 

Dr. Ke Fang, Manager (Investment Operations), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)spoke about their role in infrastructural development and their major areas of investment for sustainable infrastructure are renewable energy in sustainable cities, cross border connectivity, regional connectivity such as express way. He emphasized on project financing and educated the audience about the aspiring 6 projects which is about USD 1.2 billion. He informed about a multilateral development bank mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia and beyond.

The event was attended by eminent experts, policy practitioners, officials from central government, industry leaders, bilateral partners and representatives of the Multilateral Development Banks including AIIB to deliberate on the pertinent issues relating to financing, institutional and regulatory environment, technological options for sustainable future, financial sustainability and other relevant aspects 

Ms. Bhagyesh Soneji, Chairperson ASSOCHAM Western Council, highlighted on the missing part and challenges faced in the infrastructure development of the State. She spoke about the DMIC project in Gujarat. She said that nearly 62% of the population has fallen under the DMIC project. She emphasized on the supplies as major rural population has migrated to the urban cities and the challenging part today is to manage supplies. She said that need of an hour today is to build infrastructure to manage the migrated population to the big cities and also for rural-urban infrastructure management. She thanked all the participants and dignitaries for sparing their time and attending the very important conference. 

Professor Amitabh Kundu, Distinguished Fellow, RIS, and Chair of the Inaugural Session of the Conference welcomed all the dignitaries and highlighted the work and research carried-out by the dignitaries present on the dais for sustainable smart urban infrastructural development of the nation and the challenges & way forward. 

Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director, Indian Resident Mission, Asian Development Bank, while welcoming all the delegates to the conference addressed the challenges and opportunities faced during their working in India and at state level. He highlighted on the various projects being undertaken by ADB in the country as well as state. He stated in his presentation about the recent economic survey in India that nearly $ 180 bn investment is being projected upto the year 2040. He said that urban infrastructure is growing rapidly and their bank in India has invested around USD 39.4 bn from (1986-2016). In his presentation he also highlighted about the various projects being undertaken in India with ADB viz India-East Coast Economic Corridor. 

Prof O. P. Mathur, Senior Fellow and Head, Urban Studies at the Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi thanked all the stakeholders for their active participation. He highlighted on the challenging part of urban infrastructural development. He said that the major challenges faced are; of private finance, as there is no substitute of private finance to public finance, the second issued is of budgetary provision which is very low and not proportionate. He said that there are no clear fiscal space for urban infrastructure development and also there are many untapped opportunities which needs to be tapped for accelerating GDP growth to 9-10%. 

Mr. Bharat Patel, Co-Chairman, ASSOCHAM Western Council spoke on the overall perspective of urbanization ratio of 32%, which is still low. He said that total investments of at least $640.2 billion are needed for urban infrastructure and services until 2031 to meet the needs of the growing urban population and improve the standard of living of the existing urban population. To bridge this gap it has been emphasised that the private sector who is not only the primary user of the economic infrastructure but is the key stakeholder in implementation, designing, operations etc. It is equally pivotal to ensure private sector participation in resource generation through effective mechanisms of costs, risks and benefit sharing.

Courtesy: pib.nic.in

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