Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Housing & Urban Affairs has stated that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the United Nations Member States in 2015 is a guiding document for a planet and the people that inhabit it. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets together reflect, both the collective vision and goal that we have to work to achieve by 2030, he added. All the flagship Missions such as Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban, the Smart Cities Mission, the AMRUT Mission were in implementation mode well before the SDGs were adopted by the Member States.
In a country of India’s size, diversity and population, it is a staggering challenge to implement this ambitious urban agenda. “I am, however, both optimistic and confident that we will succeed. The essential ingredient for success in any endeavour of this magnitude is a strong political will. That is in abundance in this Government”. He was addressing a Webinar on the occasion of World Habitat Day 2020 from Nirman Bhawan. Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA, senior officials from UN Agencies, States and the Ministry also attended the Webinar. On the occasion of World Habitat Day 2020, several e-Publications of the organisations under MoHUA viz HUDCO, BMTPC CGEWHO and NCHF were also released.
Hardeep Singh Puri, during his address, said that the large scale migration from urban areas to the rural areas was a major challenge. To tackle this, the Government has quickly come up with a scheme for making available rental housing on a large scale. The ecosystem has been laid down, and work is being taken up on a war footing. There is a significant focus on the use of new and environmentally safe construction technologies and techniques. This will have a salutary effect in keeping the adverse impact on the environment in check. Through a global housing technology challenge, the very best of national and international technologies are sought to be brought in.
Providing details of the achievements under Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban, the Minister said: “the targets for individual and Community toilets have not only been met but have been surpassed by October 2, 2019. It is indeed the best tribute anyone could have paid to the Mahatma”.
“Not only have the sneers and sniggers stopped, but amazingly the people of India embraced the scheme making it into a people’s movement – a Jan Andolan. We even had two movies being made that had a story themed around the toilet! Such has been the transformation” he added.
As regards the benefits arising out of technology, Hardeep Singh Puri said that the architecture of the Smart Cities Mission enables the use of technology extensively. Thus, while the Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) monitor the critical municipal functions on a real-time basis, the wide array of CCTVs across the city have ensured that the citizens and more importantly the women have found a newfound feeling of security.
There are well-documented stories of the crime rates coming down appreciably coming down in these smart cities. Similarly, to help the vulnerable sections of society who were especially hard hit, the Government rolled out the PM SVANidhi scheme targeting the street vendors who were affected by the lockdown that was imposed. Collateral-free working capital of Rs.10,000 is made available to the street vendors immediately by the participating banks. Simultaneously, they are being brought on to the formal economy and the formal, digital banking ecosystem.
“Today, the world is on the cusp of several inflexion points. Covid-19 has exacerbated and aggravated the momentum. Status quo has been disrupted, and most importantly, the world has been forced to introspect and course-correct. For India, with a population of 1.35 billion, the challenges have been magnified. Fortunately, the political leadership, the bureaucracy at the Centre, states and the districts have risen to the occasion. The front line warriors led by health professionals and workers have led from the front. But India is resilient. We will come out of this pandemic stronger and wiser. Our cities will I am sure to learn the right lessons and make our cities ready for the future”, Hardeep Singh Puri further added.