off the ground, rather than looking seriously at the processes involved. Most consultations were done merely as a procedural requirement rather than with any serious purpose or commitment.
Relegation of the City Master Plan: Comprehensive city planning is the hallmark of a master plan. The JnNURM ignored the strengthening of the master plan, a vital task, and embarked on solutions that apparently came out of public consultations, not necessarily from master plans. One often doubts the ability of the common citizen to comprehend or recommend technical solutions to complex city problems. In the name of public consultations, vested interest groups have also found their way in.
Inertia for Reform: Provision of finances for projects were used as a lever to tactically make states undertake reforms. The reforms mandated were: implementation of decentralised measures as envisaged in the 74th Amendment Act, repeal of urban land ceiling laws, reform of rent control laws, rationalisation of stamp duties bringing it down to 5 per cent, enactment of public disclosure law and community participation law, and assigning the town planning function to urban local bodies.
In reality, many reforms either did not happen or took place only on paper. States carried out reforms only because they got funds, not that they had any serious commitment towards implementing them. Even these reforms are not complete. A review commissioned by the Central government is quite revealing on several of these counts.
Vacant Houses: Under the Basic Services for Urban Poor component of the mission, thousands of housing units for the poor have been built. However, most are lying unoccupied. The reasons are quite easy to comprehend. These houses being on the outskirts of the cities, have no access to schools and no proper connectivity to the parent city. As a result, people would opt to stay in shanties in the heart of the city rather than shift to the periphery and live in good houses. All that was required was a free bus shuttle to put these units into use. This has not been done and the houses lie vacant.
In sum, the reasons for the limited success of JnNURM, one of the flagship programmes of the UPA government are: lack of long-term city-level plan, inadequate capacity of municipalities, haphazard approach to taking up projects, failure to undertake crucial reforms and little or no involvement of the professional expertise available in the planning and design academia.