Less than half the targeted number of projects have been completed under the mission duration of JnNURM. With the government looking at launching a second phase of the mission next year, the focus quite clearly, has to be on processes and implementation.
Launched amidst great fanfare in the year 2005, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), is a seven-year mission to upgrade urban infrastructure in India’s strained cities with an unprecedented funding package of nearly Rs 80,000 crore that has raised aspirations. It has broadly two sub-missions: one for infrastructure upgradation and the other for providing basic services for the urban poor.
State capitals and 67 large cities were chosen under the mission. This number rose to 467 as some of the smaller towns were included as well.
For the common man, the JnNURM bus is perhaps the only visible symbol of the mission that has sunk a huge amount of taxpayers’ money. However, at the end of the mission period, with less than half of the projects complete, and huge portion of the finances unspent, the question that stares us is whether we have actually missed the urban renewal bus.
JNNURM: AN APPRAISAL
Quick Fix Solution: Rapid appraisal and quick-fix planning in terms of City Development Plans (CDP) were prepared by consultants in the span of a few months. Appraisals were done in not more than two weeks and detailed project reports (DPRs) were churned out. Several conditional reforms were mandated. States were more than eager to access funds and in haste, entered into MoUs for undertaking reforms.
Dependancy on Consultants: The fact is that in India, functionaries in the urban development sector, urban local bodies and other line agencies are grossly deficient in capacities for project conceptualisation, planning and implementation. This is the reason for the extensive dependence on consultants. As a result, there is no ownership of the CDPs prepared by them, since local body officials have hardly participated in the process.
Few in the government would have read the reports. There was a complete absence of comprehensive planning and the statutory town planning process was ignored. Consultants hired temporary staff who left soon after. This consultancy route to local governance has not yielded the desired results.
Consultative Process: While there was an in-built provision for public consultations, they were done in a hasty and haphazard manner. The focus at all times was on quick drawal of funds for getting projects