The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was an enormous movement launched to modernize the cities of India.

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal System (JNNURM) was a break from the past and an integrated approach to the development of cities and urban areas in the country. India is the second largest urban system across the globe and the urban population of India currently is above 500 million. Therefore, this scheme does play a pivotal role in shaping the infrastructure of the country on the whole when it is taking up the development of urban areas. 

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was an enormous movement launched to modernize the cities of India. It was an undertaking of the Ministry of Urban Development, under Government of India. The investment made by the government amounted to over 20 billion dollars over 7 years. 

As it is understood, it was named after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. It was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on December 3rd 2005 in order to improve the cities and the city infrastructure. 

The scheme was supposed to function up to the March of 2012. However, it later got extended up to the March of 2014, and further up to 31st March 2015. The mission aimed to create “economically productive, efficient, equitable and responsive cities” by bringing advancement in social and economic infrastructure in selected cities along with providing basic services to the urban poor.

A number of urban reforms were implemented under the scheme to empower municipal governments, keeping in view the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1992. 

The scheme inculcated the following missions or sub-missions:
  • Urban infrastructure and governance, focusing on sanitation, water supply, waste management, roads and transport, and the development of the older areas of the city.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUA), focused on providing basic services to urban poor and developing slums.
The objectives of the scheme were as follows:
  • Integrated development of cities, especially their city infrastructure;
  • Increase in self-sustaining capacities of cities;
  • Providing sufficient funds to fulfil the needs of cities;
  • Development and planning of a list of particular cities adopted by the scheme;
  • Meting out civic amenities, and providing utilities to the urban poor;
  • Redeveloping or enhancing older areas of the cities;
  • Providing improvement in housing, water supply, sanitation, education and health, security, and other such basic services at cheaper and affordable prices;
  • Road network, bus transit system, sewage treatment, management of solid waste, river and lake improvement, and the enhancement of slums are all objectives of the mission.

The funds were given by State Agencies and Central Government contributed in giving these grants as soft loans to the cities, so that the cities could fund the development strategies as identified by the scheme. The cities were held accountable by the mission and need to maintain transparency of funds. The government provided grants ranging from 35% in largest cities up to 90% in the northeast however on an average most cities received grants between 50% and 80%. 

Some of the mandatory reforms that the mission made were as follows: 
  • Decentralization of power according to the 74th Amendment of 1992 which stressed on giving importance to municipal governments;
  • Implemented the reform of rent control laws to bring a balance between the vested interests of landlords and tenants;
  • To ensure that the information of quarterly performance of the mission reached all the stakeholders;
  • Concept of Area Sabha in urban areas was introduced;
  • Municipalities were entrusted with the city planning function and became the urban civic service providers.
Other reforms that the scheme implemented, and managed to solve problems were as follows: 
  • Revised bye-laws so that construction of buildings and development of sites got easy approval;
  • Simplified legal processes for the conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural or industrial lands for development;
  • Encouraged PPP;
  • Made laws for reusing recycled water;
  • Encouraged the voluntary retirement scheme (or VRS) so that offices vacant due to retirement were filled faster;
  • Started the computerised process of registration of land and property;
  • Enforced other mandatory bye-laws to make rainwater harvesting mandatory in homes, especially in cities that experienced good amounts of rainfall.
Some limitations of the scheme are stated as follows:
  • Many critics believe that to help and aid the lagging states, financial incentives are not enough and the execution was not as good as the planning;
  • Focusing on reforms and implementing them for long time can be a challenge.

Though the mission had its limitations, we cannot ignore the benefits it had led to. Eventually, the mission has translated into the improvement schemes launched by the government to make cities cleaner, greener and smarter. The scheme has formed the basis of several projects of urban development taken up by the municipalities. The cleanliness and hygiene have increased all throughout the country. 

The JNNURM Scheme has indeed provided that acceleration needed in the country for the advancement of the urban poor and the municipal responsibility. 

People are more eco-conscious today and more aware of waste segregation processes. There are different coloured dustbins everywhere. Rainwater is no more going waste in states like Tamil Nadu, which experience annual floods. 

Development has to start in the roots, and branch out into making a developed country. This initiative of the former government has carved the niche for this much-needed change development.

Edited by Shraddha Jha

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