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Odisha Unveils RuUrban Policy

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, has approved “Odisha Rural-Urban Transition Policy”, a visionary policy under 5T Governance aimingat removing the rural-urban divide in providing essential urban infrastructure, amenities and services to all citizens residing in the fast growing rural areas adjoining the cities. This is a first of its kind policy, which intends to introduce a series of progressive and pragmatic measures to address the challenges of unplanned and unregulated urbanization.

The existing system of notification of a rural area as urban area brings about abrupt changes in the political and administrative set-up,impacting the socio-economic conditions of the citizensas there is no window period for them to accommodate the sudden change. It also lacks a participatory and inclusive approach, which often leads to resistance and breeds litigation.

Presently, 19% of Odisha’s population resides in urban areas and is expectedto reach 21% by 2031. The growth of census towns or peri-urban areas account for nearly 40% of the urbanization in the state. However, these peri-urban and rurban areas have been grappling with the challenge of inadequate access to social infrastructure and civic amenities andservices even after declaring such areas as urban areas. After intensive consultations with the experts and practitioners, it has emerged that absence of a comprehensive policy and robust institutions to contain unplanned urbanization has been the primary reason for this situation.

As a significant shift from the previous system therefore, the Rural-Urban Transition Policy aims as providingurban civic amenities of services to the people in the identified rural areas much before the areas are formally notified as urban areas. The policy allows creation of special budgetfor implementation of infrastructure projects and delivery of services while actively involving the elected representatives, officials, and all other stakeholders in theplanning, execution and monitoring of the transition process.

Under the policy, rural areas after intensive process of identification will be declared as urban areas coming into effect from the date on which the tenure of the existing elected representatives expire. During the interim period, the notified the rural area will be taken up for up-gradation of infrastructure and services to provide all urban services on par with the adjacent urban areas. During the transition period, ward delimitation and other administrative measures will also be put in place so that from the effective date, the area will start functioning as a full-fledged urban area with all required urban infrastructure and services.

This policy provides for constitution of steering and implementation committees with top officials of the State Government including the Chief Secretary and experts driven from various domains viz. urban planning, finance, engineering, management, IT, etc.This will ensure convergence of Government schemes and inter departmental coordination for a smooth and seamless transition of the peri-urban and rurban areas into full-fledged urban areas.

The policy proposes to adopt a “Hub and Spoke” model withthe State Urban Development Agencyat the State Level and District Urban Development Agencies, Development Authoritiesat the city level serving as theHub and Spokes respectively.

The policy will transform the urban landscapes like never before while effectively balancing the needs of both growth and sustainability.