The challenges in urban areas outlined by Shri Naidu include: Ensuring 100% household water supply connections as against the present 50%, Ensuring normative water supply of 135 litres per capita per day as against the present 73 litres, 100% sewerage treatment as against the present 16%, Enhancing efficiency of solid waste collection from 23% to 100%, Achieving 80% segregation of waste at source as against the present 18%, Recycling of 80% of waste as against the current 10%, Reliable power supply, Improving physical and social infrastructure and urban governance and meeting the urban housing shortage etc.
Referring to the need for massive investments to convert the rapid urbanization into an opportunity, Shri Naidu stressed on the need for effective recovery of costs of utilities like water and power in urban areas. He said, ‘to begin with at least O&M (Operation & Maintenance) costs need to be recovered by putting in place necessary mechanisms. This is needed to invite large scale private sector participation in urban sector. One certain way of doing it is to set up Regulatory Bodies for deciding on the prices of urban utilities.’
Elaborating on the pace of urbanization in the country, Shri Venkaiah Naidu suggested Development Authorities for each of the district headquarter towns for comprehensive long term planning for an area of 25 km. radius. He also stressed on the need for modification of building bye-laws at the level of urban local bodies to meet the growing aspirations of urban population. The Minister laid special emphasis on ensuring accountability and transparency by improving urban governance through adoption of appropriate technologies. He noted that ‘smart leadership’ capable of taking right decisions at the level of urban local bodies is the need of the hour.
About 70 municipal commissioners from the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana besides the Union Territory of Puducherry participated in the Workshop organized to sensitize them to implementation issues pertaining to the central government’s initiatives like Swachh Bharat Mission, Development of 500 cities/towns, Housing for All by 2022, Skill Development and Self-employment, Capacity Building of Urban Local Bodies etc.
The Municipal Commissioners welcomed the initiative of Shri Venkaiah Naidu to interact with them ahead of the launch of major urban sector initiatives. While agreeing with the concerns voiced by Shri Naidu, they said, under JNNURM, projects were proposed and approved without appreciating the limitations of urban local bodies as a result of which most of them remained unfinished. Suggestions made by them include: reducing the gap between centre’s assistance to toilet construction in urban and rural areas, funding renovation of existing public toilets, assistance for meeting O&M costs for a longer period, flexibility to states in respect of size and cost of housing for urban poor, capacity building of urban local bodies etc. Shri Naidu said, the suggestions will be given due consideration.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu, on this occasion, nominated 18 distinguished persons as Swachh Bharat Ambassodors for the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Sixteen of them attended the programme and in their acceptance speeches have lauded the initiative. Cricketer Shri V V S Lakshman said that the launch of the Mission has been a huge success as it has caught the imagination of the people across the country and his little children were also aware of it. The nonminees said that they would strive sincerely to mobilise peeople’s participation in the cleanliness campaign in both the states.