NITI Aayog organizes South Asian Regional Conference on Urban Infrastructure

NITI Aayog, the premier think tank of the Government of India, partnered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to host a South Asian regional conference at Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in the capital today to discuss the key issues, perspectives and the way forward in the Urban Infrastructure.

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs), Shri Hardeep Singh Puri addressed the closing session on Day One of the Conference and received the rapporteurs’ presentations, summarising best practices related to new approaches to PPP & Municipal Financing.

Considering the quantum deficit in infrastructure implementation today vis-à-vis the demand, it is extremely imperative to focus on newer means of implementing and financing urban infrastructure. In India alone, until 2040, estimated investments of around $4.5 trillion are required in the infrastructure space. With respect to urban needs, the population in South Asia is expected to grow by around 250 million till 2030, while that in India is expected to reach around 590 million during the same period.

There are an estimated 98 million people who reside in the slums of Indian cities and are disproportionately deprived of access to basic services and infrastructure. These gaps must be addressed so that the cities grow equitably and in an environmentally responsible way.

The South Asian regional conference is a first of its kind, with participation from across the South Asian region including leaders from the government, industry, research organizations, academia, think tanks and civil society. The Conference aims to review overall issues and assess the sustainability of PPPs and urban finance in South Asia, specifically India, while broadening the knowledge base and engaging on international best practices. Components of the Conference include keynote and breakout sessions, panel discussions, presentation and a variety of stakeholder consultations.

Countries need to explore innovative models to implement infrastructure projects. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been one such option that enables governments to optimally share the risks associated with a project’s lifecycle. However, for making government procurement more dynamic, it is imperative to focus on wider options. Furthermore, to implement urban infrastructure in India, a deeper deliberation is required on the means of democratizing the governance at the city level with a view towards providing greater operational and fiscal autonomy to Urban Local Bodies (ULBs). These challenges and the emerging opportunities necessitate focusing on the institutional environment to improve the delivery of sustainable urban infrastructure and services and evaluating alternatives for long-term, predictable financing.

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