HYDERABAD: Acknowledging the rapid wave of urbanisation across the globe, President Pranab Mukherjee, on Thursday urged the administrators to address issues such as sanitation, pollution, mobility and safety. “Most cities in the developing world are unprepared, both at the local and global levels, to face the challenge of urbanisation and ensuring equality in the provision of basic infrastructure and amenities,” said Pranab while addressing the closing ceremony of the XI Metropolis World Congress in the city.
“At a time when more than 50 percent of the world lives in urban areas, it is important that administrators address the ever-rising challenges of sanitation, pollution, mobility, civic amenities and public safety in an innovative manner,” he said.
According to 2011 Census, as many as 377 million Indians, constituting 31 per cent of the country’s total population, were living in urban areas in India as compared to 45 per cent in China, 54 per cent in Indonesia, 78 per cent in Mexico and 87 per cent in Brazil, the President said.
“Urban areas are now acknowledged as ‘engines of economic growth. Globally it is also being recognized that rather than a ‘rural-urban dichotomy’, the phenomenon of ‘rural-urban continuum’ is the order of the day. In India too, there is realisation that planned urbanisation is one of the keys to unlock India’s growth potential,” the President said.
Speaking of the challenges that lie ahead, he said:”Urban India today faces a backlog in the provision of basic amenities and infrastructure. About 9 percent or urban India does not have access to safe drinking water and 12.6 per cent have no toilet facilities.”
The president also stressed the importance of using technology to provide better amenities to the people. “People should not have to waste time in accessing basic amenities. The government-to-citizen services should be made available online with minimal human interface. As people increasingly depend on the internet for getting their services, entire cities will need to be wi-fi-enabled,” he stated.
The President also shed light on the various initiatives taken by the Government of India to keep pace with rapid urbanisation, including the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” campaign.
“The Government of India proposes to launch a new Urban Development Mission to support states by handholding them in building infrastructure and services in step with the rapid pace of urbanization. A new mission mode program is being designed to take up these activities for 500 cities of the nation. Private sector participation by way of PPP (Public Private Partnerships) methodology will be encouraged,” he said.
Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, in his speech, said that the government of Telangana was trying to develop Hyderabad on the lines of Istanbul.
“It is important to develop a city without destroying its heritage. Istanbul is a perfect example of this and we are trying to develop the city like Istanbul, especially the Old City of Hyderabad,” said KCR.
Referring to the rapid growth of urbanisation, the CM called for judicial utilisation of urban land. “With 50 per cent urbanisation across the globe, the need of the hour is to sensitise people regarding the judicious utilisation of urban land. Population in urban areas is increasing because of migration, but land will not grow. Hence, land should be utilised in a scientific and judicious manner,” he explained.
Describing slums as a curse on the city, KCR emphasised the need to be slum-free. “Slums are an ugly part of our urban life and hence, they need to be addressed. We want to be a slum-free city,” he stated, adding that smart cities must be eco-friendly.
Executive mayor of Johannesburg Park Tau, Telangana state governor E S L Narasimhan, Hyderabad mayor Majid Hussain, chief secretary Rajeev Sharma and principal secretary of MA & UD S K Joshi, were among those who were present at the Metropolis World Congress.