Introduction – A brief about JNNURM
Urban renewal is a process by which a land, which is usually privately owned, is taken over by a municipality to reclaim the land for the benefit of the public. It usually involves reconstruction of major city areas, such as residential and transportation use. Urban renewal as known in the recent times began in the 1900s and many cities after that have adopted the idea to regenerate their city streets and amenities. The concept is common in developed countries although it affects all the countries in the world. A dilapidated area can be converted to a redevelopment anywhere, even in India the government has renewed many slum areas into metros and transport hubs or redeveloped for housing structures. One of the major schemes in India to redevelop the cities is the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
Related: New Urbanism- Concept and Examples
The major aim of the JNNURM mission was to redevelop the buildings in India to improve the quality of living of the residents in the country. It was administered by the Ministry of Urban Development but it did not succeed in implementing all the objectives and goals that were originally stated in the mission. However, it succeeded in changing many of the cities built environment in India and modernizing the landscape such as initiating more housing complexes and mixed-used buildings. JNNURM encouraged more reforms to be built in the future and fast-tracked planned development in cities such as the metro systems and other public transportation systems. There are also many schemes the government has taken to reduce poverty and slums in India but because of the many challenges they face, it could not be implemented in every Indian city. For instance, the regeneration of the Dharavi slums by encouraging entrepreneurial engagements within the slum but the government could not provide housing for each of the slum dwellers.
The main objectives of JNNURM were:
- “Focused attention relating to infrastructural services in the context of integrated development is to be covered under the mission.
- Make efficient and increase self-sustaining capabilities of cities as per the sector proving infrastructural services by securing the linkages between asset creation and asset management
- Scale up delivery of civic amenities and provision of utilities with emphasis on universal access to urban poor.
- To take up urban renewal programme, i.e., re-development of inner (old) cities area to reduce congestion.
- Provision of basic services to the urban poor including security of tenure at affordable prices, improved housing, water supply and sanitation.”
The above objectives were the ideal issues that needed to be improved by the initiation of JNNURM. However, many of these issues are still not resolved in India in 2018 and continue to be a challenge for the Indian government for many reasons such as population growth, corruption and lack of tax payers.
A major part of regenerative city principles is reducing the ecological footprint. As India is one of the most polluted countries in the world, it is important and part of the Sustainable Development Goals to reduce the ecological footprint in India. One way that regeneration contributes to this, is through more developments of sustainable buildings which have improved the architecture and materials used in the construction of buildings. However, carbon emission should be maintained through the reduction of the car-culture and other transportation pollution that is generated including rubbish and plastic waste. Implementing urban renewal more strictly could have more positive consequences to the society at large. Building car-free zones or pedestrianized streets could be one way to do this and India lacks this concept because of other social issues.
Urban renewal sees human habitat and culture as part of ecosystems also by appreciating diversity in the cities. As cities constantly compete with each other, urban renewal in some cities globally that are performing better can significantly hamper the progress of other cities. Some cities, for instance, focus more on the urban renewal of city spaces particularly public spaces because they provide more public amenities for people. However, these countries provide efficient public transport and manage carbon emissions and waste management to a significantly higher standard than in India. For this reason, India focusses more on the pressing social issues such as reducing sanitation, poverty, providing food, shelter, and clothing for residents, transport and waste management compared to redeveloping their public spaces.
Therefore, urban renewal can happen in many different ways. JNNURM is one initiative taken by the Indian government to curb these challenges but it did not work efficiently. However, it is still important to remember the progress they made since JNNURM and many of the issues that were present then are still important to understand and resolve in India. Urban renewal can be effective in many ways and it will always be an important part of the built environment. India is at its nascent stage towards implementing renewal, but there has been a lot of progress that has been made in the past few decades. Concepts of architecture and planning will be important in this sector and will continue to grow.