KARNATAKA Where Cities are Engines of Growth

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KARNATAKA Where Cities are Engines of Growth

The future economic growth of karnataka, The 7th largest state in india and home the country’s IT Hub of bengaluru, will be determined by the lavel of urban development in its cities and towns, writes Vivek Ratnakar of Elets News Network(ENN)

India is fast transitioning from a predominantly rural to a quasiurban society. In the last two decades, the urbanisation process in India has been characterised by a dramatic increase in the number of people migrating from rural areas to towns and cities across the country in search of better livelihood and access to quality healthcare, education and other facilities. India added a whopping 91 million people to its urban population in the decade from 2001 to 2011.

As per the 2011 Census, out of the total population of 1210.2 million as on March 1, 2011, about 377.1 million people, or 31 percent of the total population, were living in urban areas. Further, the number of million plus cities/urban agglomeration increased from 35 in the 2001 Census to 53 in the 2011 Census, as per the data of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. Concurrently, the number of towns increased from 5,161 in 2001 to 7,933 in 2011.

Karnataka, the seventh largest state in India and home to the country’s IT hub of Bengaluru—the third largest city in the country after Delhi and Mumbai— ranks ninth in terms of population in India, which has registered a decadal growth rate of population at 15.7 percent as per the 2011 Census. Karnataka is also one of the fastest urbanising states in the country owing to its burgeoning economy mainly driven by services sector, attracting professionals from across India and rural population from across the state in the cities and towns dotting the Southern state.


The rapid economic growth in the last three decades in Karnataka has resulted in accelerated urbanisation with urban population in the state rising from 30.92 percent in 1991 to 38.57 percent in 2011. This came on the back of urban development in cities and towns which have been acting as engines of economic opportunities.

The urbanisation trend in Karnataka exhibits a high urban primacy with Bangalore being the most urbanised district in the state with 90.94 percent of its population residing in urban areas, followed by Dharwad district (56.825 percent), Dakshina Kannada district (47.67 percent), Mysore district (41.50 percent) and Bellary district (37.52 percent), as per the 2011 Census.

However, by April 2015, the data collected through the Caste Census revealed that the population living in urban areas in the state had increased by up to 12 percent, as the number of households in urban areas increased more than 5.9 lakh between the 2011 Census and 2015 Caste Census. Except three districts — Bidar, Chamarajangar and Kalaburagi — all other districts registered a double-digit increase in number of families residing in urban areas. Two coastal districts — Uudpi and Dakshina Kannada — recorded 101 and 54 percent increase respectively in urbanisation compared to 2011 Census, while Mysuru registered 33 percent. The outskirts of Bengaluru city recorded a meteoric rise in population. While Bengaluru Urban district recorded 10 percent increase, Bengaluru Rural district witnessed 32 percent rise, according to the Social Welfare Department.KARNATAKA Where Cities are Engines of Growth

Increased migration of families seeking jobs in cities and towns across the state has been considered to be one of the major reasons for the accelerated growth in urban population in Karnataka.

The Southern state is the third-highest contributor to India’s gross domestic product after Maharashtra and Gujarat. Two-thirds of Karnataka’s economic output comes from the services sector. It is mainly due to the presence of India’s largest information technology hub in Bengaluru, which is also home of machine tools, construction machinery industry, aerospace, electronics, garments and a significant automotive hub in India.

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The strong association between urbanisation and economic growth in Karnataka is quite stark. For instance, Bengaluru accounts for the largest urban population growth in the state due to its staggering contribution of USD 150 billion, which is nearly 10 percent of the country’s GDP. In contrast, Hubli-Dharwad, which is the second largest urban conglomeration in Karnataka but ranks sixth in terms of contribution to the state GDP, also has an urban population which is only 1/6th that of Bengaluru.


The 2009 Urban Development Policy of Karnataka clearly states that “the future of Karnataka will increasingly be determined by the economic and social well-being of its cities”. In response to the growing pressure on Karnataka’s cities, the state has been at the forefront of pioneering innovative initiatives in urban infrastructure development. The urban development policy adopted by the state takes into account the large scale increase in population in urban areas due to migration; increase in the number of poor residents in urban areas; infrastructural shortfall on several fronts; shortage of resources; the challenge of ensuring the basic welfare of the poor in urban areas; and the increasing need for strengthening governance, planning and administration in the cities. Therefore, for adopting a pragmatic approach to urban development, the seven key components of the 2009 policy framework recognised the need of a strategy for urban development; a new approach to urban planning; reducing and eliminating poverty; making adequate provision of urban infrastructure services; ensuring environmental sustainability of urban areas; promoting democratic urban governance; and the significance of mobilising adequate financial resources to carry out developmental works. The Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka, which has been spearheading the urban development initiatives by planning, regulating, controlling, monitoring and facilitating urban development, and the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC), which prepares, formulates and implements projects, schemes and programmes relating to infrastructure development in the urban areas of the state, have been driving the various urban development programmes in the state. Both the institutions are driven by the broad objective of Karnataka’s urban development policy, which has the singular aim of improving the quality of life of common citizens.


When it comes to urban development, Karnataka is one of the few states in India which has been working on a number of reforms in the area of urban development since 2002. The state for the first time in the country started working towards service level benchmarking for solid waste management, 24*7 water supply, under-ground drainage, health indices, financial management and manpower, among others, to review the performance of urban local bodies in the state. The state also made great strides in the area of property mapping and launching city modernisation programmes like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Smart Cities Mission (SCM), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), and state government schemes like Mukhya Mantri Nagarothana, Karnataka Integrated Urban Water Management Investment Programme, Karnataka Urban Water Supply Modernization Project, North Karnataka Urban Sector Investment Programme, Karnataka Urban Water Sector Improvement Project, among others.


In Karnataka, a total of seven cities have been selected under the Smart Cities Mission. The cities that were selected in phase-1 included Belagavi, Davangere, while in phase-2 HubbaliDharwad, Mangaluru, Shivamogga and Tumakuru made the cut. Bengaluru was the last city to get approval under the Government of India programme that envisages retrofitting a city to make it more efficient and liveable by introducing smart and sustainable solutions. But a Smart City cannot be smart “if every household doesn’t have an underground sever system, 24×7 water supply and a proper sewer system,” believes Anjum Parwez, Principal Secretary, Department of Urban Development (Municipal Administration & Urban Development), Government of Karnataka.

The 2009 Urban Development Policy of Karnataka clearly states that “the future of Karnataka will increasingly be determined by the economic and social well-being of its cities”. In response to the growing pressure on Karnataka’s cities, the state has been at the forefront of pioneering innovative initiatives in urban infrastructure development.

After facing challenges during initial phase of the mission in terms of building a robust system, Karnataka is now on the right track in implementing the smart city initiatives. The state government has already invested around Rs 978 crores in various smart city projects. As many as 463 projects have been planned at a cost of Rs 6,123 crore. Out of which, 86 projects were completed, while 248 are ongoing. As many as 70 were tendered, 52 are at detailed project report (DPR) stage, while seven are at concept stage.

According to an official estimate, the Government of India has released a total of Rs 1,325 crore in three phases for all seven smart cities in Karnataka while the Government of Karnataka has released its share of Rs 978 crore. Karnataka’s strategy to implement smart city projects is to set them in order of priority according to the resources available. The priority list includes: Integrated Command and Control Centre, smart roads, non-motorised mobility, open spaces, e-Toilets, and e-Lounge followed by other projects.

Karnataka is also betting huge on big data in governance, as the state government is looking to deploy analytics for faster decision-making that can facilitate more efficient service delivery to citizens. Karnataka has also undertaken GIS-based property mapping in a big way, which is set to create more efficient master plans for the cities and help them become engines of growth and prosperity.


There are as many as 27 towns and cities selected under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation in Karnataka. The thrust areas and components under the Mission include developing efficient water supply, sewerage, storm water drainage, urban transport, green spaces and parks, reforms management and support, and individual and institutional capacity building. Under the mission, of the Rs 4,952.87 crore allocated Rs 2318.79 crore will come from the Central government, Rs 990.57 crore from the Government of Karnataka and the balance Rs 1,643.51 crore will be contributed by urban local bodies. The share of funding to each component under the Mission has been prioritised in the order: water supply, sewerage, storm water drainage, urban transport and development of green spaces.

Karnataka is one of the fastest urbanising states in the country owing to its burgeoning economy mainly driven by services sector, attracting professionals from across India and rural population from across the state in the cities and towns dotting the Southern state.

As many as 89 project proposals worth Rs 2069.610 crores have been approved by Karnataka under the Mission. Where urban local bodies are unable to mobilise finances required to fund AMRUT projects under their 30 percent share, the state government has stepped in and decided to borrow loans on behalf of the urban local bodies through the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation.

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A majority of the loans will be used for projects to provide water supply and underground drainage. The government has also decided to make a budgetary allocation annually to service the loans by repaying the principal and interest. The repayment period, according to the government will be eight years.


In November 2018 Karnataka was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) with the construction of 45,42,655 toilets across the state. The next aim of the state is to move towards ODF Plus status which refers to the sustainability of ODF tag, along with achieving adequate liquid water supply, improved sewerage lines, storm water drains and cemented roads. Besides that, the state also aims to focus on improving its waste management situation.

This achievement had been made possible on the back of robust monitoring and evaluation systems to oversee course correct and sustain a good sanitation system in the state. More recently, Mysuru was declared one of the four ‘5-Star’ rated cities in India under the Garbage Free City Protocol of Swachh Survekshan 2019, and the cleanest city across the southern zone. It is again a success story worth replicating in other Indian cities. The city involved self-help groups, college and school students to launch a massive mass campaigning for cleanliness drive in the city. Civil society also pitched in to reach each and every household in the city, doing surveys and studies and sharing their inputs with the administration.

The main aim of the government is to involve common citizens to mobilise the solid waste management effectively at the grass root level, which it did effectively. As far as the infrastructure is concerned, one of the key components of the Swachh Bharat Mission is waste segregation, and herein the civic authorities and officials took initiatives to involve and educate citizen individually, through door-to-door campaigns and drives.

However, besides Mysuru, other cities across Karnataka need to raise their game to be able to make a difference. The key will lie in how elected representatives, community-based groups, health workers, waste pickers, youth groups, marginalised communities, and other stakeholders will come together to collaborate to drive sanitation and waste management systems across the state.

Also Read: Urban development all set to reach the next level in Karnataka

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