The Centre has appointed a panel to develop framework for a comprehensive national policy for the first time, to focus on areas such as inclusiv

The Union government is set to come up with India’s first National Urban Policy framework by March this year. With urban development being a state subject until now, there has never been a comprehensive national policy that spells out the country’s plan for urbanisation.

The housing and urban affairs ministry has appointed a panel, headed by Smart City Mission Director Sameer Sharma, to develop such a policy framework. The panel, expected to submit its report by March 2018, also includes all mission directors (AMRUT, PMAY-Housing for All, Swachh Bharat), and urban experts from the National Institute of Urban Research, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, and UN-Habitat (India).

Officials said that the aim is to outline the plan in keeping with the commitments made by all nations at Habitat III, the bi-decennial United Nations (UN) conference on housing and sustainable urban development held in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016. The policy will look at urban legislation, urban economy, and urban planning. The panel is expected to revisit the New Urban Agenda, released at Habitat III, which defines what nations are expected to do towards the cause of sustainable urban development in the period 2016-30.

“With the New Urban Agenda, India is looking internally and trying to see how we can align with it and come up with a National Urban Policy. We have our vision, we need to integrate the two and look at which existing policies need to be change. For instance, if our current policy on housing fails to look at inclusivity or gender, those can be addressed,” said a panel member.


According to a draft note by UN-Habitat, India has moved from a ‘business-as-usual approach’ to paying systematic attention to urbanisation and its challenges. The paradigm changes it has brought while addressing the challenges of urbanisation are:

  • Taking urbanisation as an opportunity rather than a challenge
  • Citizen-centric approach to align the development agenda of the cities with people’s priorities and needs
  • Cooperative federalism: Freedom and resources to states/urban local bodies (ULBs) to design and implement
  • Focus on infrastructure that leads to delivery of services to citizens
  • Renewed focus on integrated planning through convergence and qualitative improvements
  • Commitment to environment sustainability
  • Focus on inclusive growth
  • Technology to enhance efficiency of services delivery

Shift from project-based approach to outcome-based approach Based on these principles, India has developed its vision of urbanisation which reinforces the planned approach for addressing urban issues. It lays down 10 broad levers to make cities work towards greater efficiency, inclusion, sustainability and safety. These levers are:

  • Putting in place integrated urban policies consistent with principle of co-operative federalism
  • Harmonise agglomeration economies
  • Harnessing the rural-urban continuum
  • Promoting inclusive urban development
  • Recognise and actively promote the centrality of sustainability
  • Empowering municipalities and other local level institutions
  • Strengthening housing finance system
  • Provision and financing of urban infrastructure and basic services
  • Access to social justice and gender equity
  • Robust urban information system