Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) joined in a three-day India Transformation Summit organised by Elets Technomedia from July 10 to July 12. The summit witnessed brainstorming sessions by renowned policymakers, industry leaders, and domain experts.
Mr Mishra participated in the summit as a Keynote Speaker and spoke on ‘Urban Development and Smart Cities in a Transforming Nation’. He commenced his address by shedding some light on the COVID scenario in the country. He said, “With the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Government of India induced a series of nationwide lockdowns to break the chain of transmission. Though being a commendable move it brought the entire economic activities in the country at a halt.”
Taking his words to India’s transformation and addressing the core theme of the summit, Mr Mishra said, “Considering the urban scenario, the world has not seen this kind of urban transformation which took place in the past six years. It is no less than a transformation in the urban landscape.” Over Rs 12 lakh crore has been spent in the urban sector to improve facilities and enhance liveability, the Secretary added.
Mr Mishra mentioned about the Swachh Bharat Mission and presented his views on how the ambitious mission by the Government of India played a crucial; role in transforming India’s picture. He said, “The mission was officially launched on October 2, 2014, by the Prime Minister and soon turned into a revolutionary move. Today we see a great change when it comes to cleanliness, sanitation, number of toilets and the number of people who have access to either private or community toilets.” The Clean India Mission remained a pivotal point during the COVID crisis as ‘swachhta’ was again the most needed aspect. “I would like to salute all our sanitation workers for cleanliness”, Mr Mishra added.
Adding on the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Secretary said, “We have almost 100 percent of the cities open defecation free (ODF) and many of them are ODF+ while a few are ODF++ as well.” Laying down a few figures, Mr Mishra said, over 66 lakh toilets have been constructed for individual households and over 6 lakh toilets have been constructed as community toilets. The toilets are not constructed but are used and are well maintained keeping hygiene in consideration.
“When I say ODF++, it means all the faecal sludge that is accumulated is collected, cleaned and converted into useful products. Hence, it has been a massive change”, told Mr Mishra. Also, behavioural changes have been observed among people today. People do not throw waste on the street or in open now when compared to the scene six years ago, he added.
Further, he said, “Earlier we were processing only 15-16 percent of the garbage in 2014. But, today we are processing 66 percent garbage. Over 90 percent of the wards are having door-to-door collection and around 75 percent segregation of waste at source is there. There has also been good learning in the waste management sector and now we are heading to what the PM said – waste is wealth.”
Mr Mishra addressed the smart cities as well. He said, “Smart cities played a very important role during the COVID era… Today we have well placed 47 ICCC and a few are yet to be commissioned.” The ICCCs were turned into COVID war rooms by the smart cities and that enabled the authorities for active tracking, monitoring, data collection, helpline services, telemedicine, and more, he added. Mr Mishjra appreciated the Bengaluru smart city’s predictive model to control the pandemic and appreciating the model he said that other cities also followed a similar approach.
“Another transformation during COVID times is housing for all. The demand was 1.12 crores. But today we have already grounded 66 lakh houses and we have completed and delivered 36 lakh houses to people”, told Mr Mishra. In addition, he said, “These houses are equipped with facilities like bedrooms, living rooms, kitchen, water pipeline, electricity, gas facility, and more.”
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Resting his words, he said, “We are looking forward to making our cities slum-free. And everyone living in a well-constructed house… Under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan the government launched an affordable rental housing scheme wherein the government complexes and other existing housing complexes will be used. The construction workers, factory workers and other such workers will be provided such houses for a nominal price.” Another scheme launched was PM Swanidhi Scheme launched for street vendors. Nearly 80 thousand street vendors have already applied for the loans and over 25 thousand loans have already started under the scheme, he added. Further, he also briefed about the progress under the AMRUT stating that nearly Rs 76,000 crore projects are under implementation and over Rs 11,000 crore projects are completed.