New Delhi, Jul 8 (PTI) The government has merged the ministries of urban development, and housing and urban poverty alleviation -- involved in policy making in urban areas -- to form the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. 

A notification regarding the merger was issued on July 6. With this, the government has set the ball rolling for officially merging multiple ministries with related mandates. 

The two ministries, headed by Union minister Venkaiah Naidu, have a long history of mergers and de-mergers. 

In 1952, they were one ministry which was known as the Ministry of Works, Housing and Supply. They were demerged in 1999, merged the next year and bifurcated again in 2004. 

Officials in the ministry say the merger would help ensure cohesiveness in formulating policies related to urban issues and cut the flab in bureaucracy. 

With this merger, the government now has 51 ministries. In 2004, the number was 42. The first government in independent India had just 17 ministries. 

A panel of secretaries in February this year had recommended the merger of the two ministries to increase efficiency in governance. 

It had recommended that the ministries of housing and urban poverty alleviation, and urban development be merged and that the pharmaceuticals and AYUSH ministries be brought under the health ministry.