Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mantra of “minimum government” has kicked off in the urban sector.

The Centre has started the process to merge two Union ministries – urban development (UD) and housing and urban poverty alleviation (HUPA) -- involved in policy making in urban areas. 

While the UD ministry is mandated to implement programmes to make cities liveable, HUPA ministry formulates policies to improve the socio-economic condition of the urban poor. 

A proposal has been sent to the Cabinet. Once approved, this will be the first instance to merge ministries after the NDA government came to power in 2014. The two ministries, however, have one Union minister — M Venkaiah Naidu — in charge. 

Though the formal order to merge the two ministries is likely to be issued soon, the process has begun internally. DS Mishra, who took over as the UD secretary last month, is also looking after the work of housing ministry. 

The government did not appoint a successor after Nandita Chatterjee retired as housing secretary on June 30, in a clear indication of its plan. Sources said Mishra has been sounded off by the Prime Minister’s Office about the merger. 

“The move is not only aimed at ensuring cohesiveness in policy making on issues related to the urban sector but also cut the flab in departments, many of which work in silos despite issues that are inter-linked,” said a government official. 

There is, however, not likely to be any downsizing this fiscal, post the merger. “Starting next fiscal, pruning of some positions including that of joint secretaries and director is likely to happen. Also there is likely to be one common budget,” said an official.

Both the ministries have a history of merger and de-mergers. They were originally one ministry in 1952 when it was known as Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply. They were bifurcated twice since then.