Karanataka’s urban development plan seeks balance

Bangalore, Nov 20 (Inditop.com) The Karnataka government has to walk a tightrope so that the state gets over its Bangalore-centric development without hurting the nation’s IT capital. It hopes to do this through the new Karnataka Urban Renewal Mission, on the lines of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

The task is not easy, though.

The state has to find a whopping Rs.100,000 crore (Rs.1,000 billion /$21.5 billion) to improve living conditions of nearly 18 million residents of 237 towns. The state’s total population is estimated at around 57 million.

Bangalore alone needs 50 percent of this amount for its seven million inhabitants, according to the draft Urban Development Policy of Karnataka released by the state government for public discussion.

The existing urban governing bodies can neither raise the resources required nor are able to spending the revenues they have been collecting from their people.

“ULBs (urban local bodies) are usually unable to raise anything like this figure. Ironically, despite this their expenditure has remained lower than their revenues,” the draft released by Law and Urban Development Minister S. Suresh Kumar on Nov 13 noted.

Bangalore with 88 percent of its population living in urban areas is the most urbanised district, followed by Dharwad in north Karnataka, about 420 km from here, with an urban population of 55 percent out of total one million population.

All the other 27 districts have less than 40 percent of the people living in urban centres with urbanisation lower than 30 percent in 10 districts and less than 20 percent in nine districts.

The main reason for the imbalance in the state’s urbanisation pattern has been the concentration of economic activities in Bangalore.

“No other city in the state has been able to function as a counter magnet to Bangalore,” the draft lamented.

Bangalore had a population of 5.6 million in 2001 and is currently estimated to have seven million. Interestingly, it recorded highest growth in population six decades back.

“The city recorded its highest growth rate of 91.5 percent during 1941-51. The decade 1971-81 also registered an impressive growth rate of 76 percent, the highest for any metropolis in India,” the draft said.

The city’s population is expected to rise to 7.8 million by 2011 and 10.7 million by 2021.

On the imbalance in urban development in the state, the draft said “much of it is caused by the huge gap between the size and economic role of Bangalore and the next largest cities in the state or what may be called the ‘Bangalore-Centric’ development.

“The enormous advantages Bangalore enjoys pull migrants and investments to the capital city. This has also exerted pressure on Bangalore’s infrastructure and services.”

“How to accelerate urban development in other regions of the state without sacrificing the interests of Bangalore constitutes a formidable challenge,” the draft cautioned.

The draft suggested a 21-point agenda for balanced urbanisation in the state.

It includes setting up of Karnataka Urban Renewal Mission (KURM) to focus on infrastructure development in small and medium cities, establishment of State Urbanisation Commission/Council (in place of the State Town Planning Board); abolition of Urban Development Authorities; formulation of Urban Land Policy; rationalisation of land acquisition rules; streamlining property tax administration; promotion of transparency and accountability through citizen participation and research and capacity-building in urban planning and administration.