Funds Crunch Hits Towns

Large number of Urban Local Bodies (ULB)S are languishing due to little funds available for funding basic infrastructure as Union Government has closed such funding facilities for last four years.

More than 100 ULBs in Odisha are in dire straits and crying for funds as there is hardly any Central Assistance is made available for the Urban Areas having less than One Lakh Population.
Out of 110 ULBs, only Nine Towns are having population more than One Lakh and these Urban Areas are covered under Atal Mission For Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).
While Nine AMRUT Towns are covering 28.5 Lakh populations, rest 100 Towns are covering a further population of over 28 Lakhs.
As these 100 Towns are having less than One Lakh Population, these Urban Zones are not getting any funds for infrastructure development as since 2014, the Central Scheme covering these areas like Urban Infrastructure Development for
Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) has been closed down.
So all these Urban Zones are crying for funding support and there is hardly any funds available.
These small and medium towns not covered under AMRUT, which require development of urban infrastructure, water supply, sewerage, septage management and other basic requirements.
So the State Government has recently urged the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) to fund these Urban Zones with a Scheme having 80 Percent support of Union Government and rest 20 Percent to be borne by the State Government, said
a senior officials in Department of Housing & Urban Development (DoHUD).
It has pointed out that adequate focus is required to address the challenges of urbanization, especially in small and medium towns of the State.
Similarly there is hardly any funding for Urban Transport in the AMRUT Towns as funding priority is set at No.4 after Water Supply, Sewage and Drainage.
Since huge funds are required for the above the three priority areas, no further scope is left for undertaking Urban Transport Projects, admit officials.
City Bus Service (CBS) was introduced in JnNURM   with 80: 20 Funding for which Union Government provided Rs.15.84 Crore for Bhubaneswar and Puri, both the Mission Cities.
Although Government of India sanctioned the CBS for Cuttack-Choudwar Cluster, Koraput-Jeypore Cluster and Bhadrakh-Balasore Cluster, no Central Assistance was made available and the Central Scheme was closed in 2014.
After AMRUT was launched, funds flow for Urban Transport has been eroded with low priority for this sector.
Now the State Government is handling CBS and Urban Mobility issues from its own funding, which is also not enough to to meet the growing requirement, admit officials.
Under this backdrop, several State Governments including Odisha has urged the MoUD to introduce a separate Central Scheme to address the issues of CBS and development of Infrastructure in the ULBs.

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