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URBAN POLICY AND ACTION PLAN FOR KERALA

1.0 BACKGROUND
The first ever-serious attempt to review and analyse the urbanisation process and to formulate policies for integrated urban development in the country began with the appointment of the National Commission on Urbanisation in the 1980s.
The main objectives of Urban Development Policy as envisaged by the National Commission on Urbanisation included the following.

i) Saving the super-metros and national cities and also reviving their economies;
ii) Development of fast growing intermediary level urban centres by ensuring financial investment for maintaining the existing infrastructure and augmenting it to a level wherein they will be more efficient urban entities; and
iii) Development of stagnating towns by providing gainful employment opportunities.
The National Commission on Urbanisation suggested that urbanisation strategy should be a part of the major strategy of generating economic growth. The Commission also observed that urbanisation should be visualized as a major instrument for promoting agricultural and industrial development as well as implementing antipoverty programme in backward areas. Owing to the emphasis on industrialisation and economic development in the successive Five Year Plans, Urbanisation in India has been characterised by the following special features:

a) Growth of towns and agro-industrial centres;
b) Setting up of institutional and administrative centres including places of tourist interest, educational centres and the state headquarters; and
c) Emergence of new industrial centres and major irrigation and power projects.
We see towns and cities as heroic engines of growth not only creating skills and wealth for the nation, but also generating employment for migrants from rural areas. Along with this we find that in some cases these urban centres have also generated the most brutal and inhuman living conditions, with large sections of the citizens living in squatter settlements. The overcrowding in the slums and lack of water and sanitation leads not only to severe health problems but also to the degradation of the human beings.
Urbanisation is an important aspect of the process of economic and social development and is closely connected with many other problems, such as migration from villages to towns, relative costs of providing economic and social services in the towns of varying sizes, provision of housing for different sections of the population, provision of facilities like water supply, sanitation, transport and power, pattern of economic development, location and dispersal of industries, civic administration etc. Much of the deterioration which occurs in living conditions in rapidly growing urban areas is due to the high cost of urban development, in particular, the cost of providing housing, water supply, drainage, transport and other services. The situation is further accentuated by the existence of unemployment, overcrowding and the growth of slums and the fact that a significant proportion of the population in many cities is without shelter.

2.0 PROBLEM AREAS

2.1 Certain minimum requirements which need to be fulfilled include —
(i) Creation of the right atmosphere for large scale investment in housing sector
(ii) Physical planning of the use of land and the preparation of master plans;
(iii) Defining tolerable minimum standards for housing and other services to be provided; and
(iv) Strengthening of municipal administration for undertaking new development responsibilities. It was concluded by the National Commission that the lowest grade municipal body must provide the following minimum facilities:
(a) potable water supply;
(b) street lighting , preferably electric;
(c) drainage, at least pucca surface drains;
(d) surfaced roads and streets; and
(e) sanitation conservancy and arrangements for the disposal of town wastes and prevention of epidemics.
2.2 Cities themselves are undergoing noticeable changes. The sky line of Indian city is fast changing with a string of high-rise buildings multiplying at a rapid speed. This is changing the traditional urban culture. Houses are getting replaced by flats. There is a rush for every square foot of land. The result is that the aesthetic sense of space is altogether ignored ; multi - storey culture is now infecting Indian cities. In such a process of creating multi-storied structure, electricity, water and other infrastructure requirements are inadvertently ignored. The growth is unchecked, and unauthorised constructions go unabated. The over all situation is really chaotic, even grim. Everywhere, cities contain more people than their infrastructure can really take. Rents are soaring up everywhere and the common experience is that these are beyond the paying capacity of even the middle class.

3.0 URBAN SECTOR – NATIONAL SCENARIO

3.1 Urbanisation is a global phenomenon. It is a measure of the process by which the proportion of the total population concentrated in the urban settlements increase . In fact all the developed countries in the world are generally urbanised. Population growth is more prevalent in urban areas. It provides better economic opportunities. Education and health facilities are mostly available in urban areas.3.2 An urban area can be defined in a number of ways – legal, demographic or economic – but all towns have the basic characteristics of being spatial concentrations of people and economic activities. In India, the definition of ‘urban’ given by census of India is generally accepted which is as follows:
(i) A minimum population of 5000
(ii) At least 75 per cent of male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and
(iii) A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq.km.3.3 Urban areas account for about 28 % of Indian population and 60% of the Gross National Produce (GDP) of the country. It creates 57% of India’s employment barring Agriculture Sector. India is traditionally considered as a Rural Society and Rural Areas are favoured by disproportionate allocation under successive plans. The urban areas together get only 15% of plan allocation. Schemes such as Rural Employment Generation Schemes, Rural Water Supply and other Rural Development Schemes always get priority over Urban Development Schemes. Urban areas remain traditionally as neglected areas. Both the Central and State funds mainly flow to rural areas. Of late, the Governments are seized of the danger in neglecting the urban areas and resultantly schemes such as Suwarna Jayanthi Shahari Rozgar Yojana ( SJSRY) and National Slum Development Programme (NSDP) have been framed. Still the allocation on these schemes are far below the requirement.3.4 Our urban areas are in severe crisis. Planning process have proved to be intrinsically defective, the cities are over crowded, urban land has become extremely scarce. Services are breaking down and city management is often ineffectual and human misery has increased beyond imagination. The urban infrastructure has become outdated. The roads, water supply, drainage and sewerage have collapsed. Providing ample parking space and open space have been totally neglected. Enforcement of municipal laws has miserably failed.

4.0 URBANISATION IN KERALA

4.1 The urban sector in Kerala comprise of five Municipal Corporations and 53 Municipalities. 25.97% of the population live in urban areas. This is a little less than the National average. However unlike the other parts of the country the Urbanisation in Kerala is not limited to the designated cities and towns. Barring a few Panchayats in the hilly tracts and a few isolated areas here and there, the entire state depicts the picture of an urban rural continuum. The Kerala society by and large can be termed as urbanised.

4.2 It is seen that in the year 1981, there were 106 census towns which accommodated 4,771,275 population which worked out to 18.74 percent of the total population; and in 1991 there were 197 census towns with a population of 76,80,294 which worked out to 26.44 percent of the total population). The Census of India 2001 recorded an urban population of 82,67,135 in the state which is 25.97% of the total population of 3,18,38,619 and is spread over 159 census towns in the state. When the urban content of the total population increased from 18.74 in1981 to 26.44 in1991, it showed a declining trend during the decade 1991 - 2001, with an urban content of 25.97 in 2001. The percentage decennial growth of urban population in the state was 60.89 during 1981-91. But during 1991-2001 it is only 7.64 %. The number of census towns is reduced to 159 too. The change in jurisdiction in statutory urban areas mainly speak for this.

4.3 Prospects and options of urbanisation in Kerala

Urbanisation trend in the state of Kerala shows marked peculiarities. Generally, increase in urban population growth rate is the result of over concentration in the existing cities especially metropolitan cities. This is true in the case of urbanisation in the other states of India. But in Kerala, the main reason for urban population growth is the increase in the number of urban areas and also urbanisation of the peripheral areas of the existing major urban centres. This is quite clear from the study of the density pattern also. Kerala has the third highest overall density of 819 persons per sq.km. (next only to west Bengal and Bihar) in 2001. But the density pattern in our major cities and towns shows that, the increase in density is due to the overall population increase over the entire spread of Kerala, which is occasionally accentuated in the urban areas with nominal variations.

The dispersed settlement pattern, a result of historical trends, a liking for homestead type development, comparatively developed infrastructure in urban and rural areas, geographical reasons, availability of subsoil water etc can be considered as both a prospect and a problem. In terms of investments in infrastructure development and social services sector, we spend quite a good share of our budgetary resources. When the scarce resources are spread thinly over the entire mat of Kerala, the accruing benefit is marginal. Whereas, selective investment in priority areas could show better results. The urban spread demands more investment in infrastructure development. Such an urban spread may result in depletion of agricultural areas. This trend may also increase transportation costs and energy consumption. However, the dispersed settlement system do have certain positive aspects also. We do not have primate city development and metropolitan city development and the problems connected there with. The rural to urban migration which accentuates urban problems and urban poverty is only marginally present in the urban scenario of the state.

4.4 Economic role of Urban Areas
4.4.1 The National Commission on Urbanisation (N.C.U.), appointed by Government of India, in their recommendations have recognized urban areas as generators of economic momentum. The State Government also accept the special economics interrelated to urban development. All urban areas do not have the same economic capabilities. The economic potential of an urban area may depend on a number of factors like geographic location, availability of economic infrastructure, regional linkages, and propensities for accepting further investments and creating spread effects.

4.4.2 Urban areas are characterised by their concentrations of different economic activities. One of the main reasons why an industry or another economic activity concentrates geographically is because of the so called ‘agglomeration economics’ that it can enjoy. Exploring the positive factors of agglomeration economics, it is possible to exploit urbanisation to aid economic development. Urbanisation and Economic Development have long been recognized as concomitant factors. Policies need to be enunciated to use urbanisation as a positive factor to aid economic development.

4.5 The state has only limited resources. It can not disregard or neglect the social commitments. The possibility of additional state investment in this sector is too remote. The financial position of urban local bodies are also not too rosy.4.6 Criteria for Constitution of Statutory Urban Local Bodies There is no prescribed criteria for constitution of cities. Municipalities were elevated to the status of Corporations on considerations of their importance, pace of urbanisation in the area , need for integrated development of the urban core and its neighbourhood, density of population, income and demand for more progressive civic administration. The Kerala Municipalities Act do not prescribe any criteria for constitution of Municipalities. However Government as per G.O MS 108/67/HLD dt.2nd March 1967 had laid down the following standards for the constitution of new Municipalities.

(i) The locality should predominantly be urban i.e. at least ¾ th of the adult population of the area should be engaged in pursuits other than agriculture.
(ii) The population of the locality should not be less than 20,000 and the density of population should not be less than 4000 per 2.59 sq.km. except in hilly areas.
(iii) Per capita revenue resources of the locality should not be less than Rs. 5.
Government visualise change in the scenario in tune with the pace of development and will formulate specific revised criteria and procedure for :-
1) Declaring an area as statutory urban local body.
2) Elevating local bodies to Municipal Status and
3) Effecting jurisdictional changes to existing statutory urban local bodies,in consideration of the peculiar settlement characteristics of the State.
The list of statutory urban local bodies in the state is enclosed as Annexure I

5.0 IMPACT OF 73RD AND 74TH CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT ACTS ON THE PLANNING SET UP OF THE STATE

5.1 With the enactment of the Constitution amendment Acts, the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act ,1994 and the Kerala Municipalities Act , 1994 came into being incorporating the provisions of the respective Constitution Amendment Acts. The significant feature was the provision that the Government shall, after the commencement of the Act, transfer to the Local Bodies, all institutions, schemes , buildings ,and other properties connected with the subjects listed in the respective schedules dealing with these functions.

5.2 The first elections to the three tier Panchayat Raj set up including Urban Local Bodies in Kerala were held and the Local Bodies came into being in October 1995. Subsequently a comprehensive Government Order was issued, transferring various institutions and staff to the Local Bodies . Another noteworthy event was the inclusion of a separate document known as Annexure IV in the Budget of 1996, which detailed out the Grants- in – Aid and the schemes transferred to the Local Bodies. Thus the allocation to the Local Bodies was seen as an independent subject of the State Budget giving it the stamp of legislative approval. Also about 35 percent of the State’s Plan Funds became the share of Local Governments.

5.3 The State Government embarked on a policy of massive decentralisation during 1996. The launching of the De-centralised Planning Campaign on 17th of August, 1996 and the appointment of a committee on Decentralisation of powers are major landmarks. This process of plan campaign was spearheaded by the State Planning Board in partnership with the Department of Local Administration with the full association of political parties, non-governmental organisations, professionals and elected members and soon assumed the nature of a movement resulting in an alliance of all those who reposed faith in decentralisation. It succeeded in harnessing public action for participatory planning at the grass root level and created not only a favourable environment for genuine decentralisation but also built up a powerful demand for radical reform in the legislative, administrative and developmental systems, thereby helping to formalize and institutionalize the paradigm shift to a people-centered, bottom-up approach to planning and development giving a direct and continuing role to the people.

5.4 The Committee on Decentralisation of Powers laid down clear and coherent first principles in its inception report in August 1996 and they have been accepted as the guiding light of government policy. Later the Committee on Decentralisation of Powers interacted closely with the Decentralised Planning Campaign and this synergy resulted in recommendations for basic restructuring of legislations of local government. These recommendations were incorporated in the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and Kerala Municipalities Act providing the legal foundation for healthy and accountable institutions to local-government. These and further recommendations of the Committee have contributed immensely in institutionalizing the gains of Decentralised Planning Campaign into a solid foundation for local self-government.

5.5 Kerala’s unique contribution in making the process of decentralisation a firm footing is evidenced by the following administrative decisions.
5.5.1 A quasi judicial authority – Ombudsman for Local Self Government Institutions has been set up to enquire into allegations of corruption and mal administration against members of Local Self Government institutions. Provisions have been made in the Kerala Municipalities Act to set up judicial tribunals to consider statutory appeals arising out of the discussions in ULBs.
5.5.2 State Performance Audit Authority has been formed to conduct performance audit of the Local Self Government Institutions.
5.5.3 Kerala Institute for Local Administration – an institution for giving training to the elected members and officials of LSG institution has been transformed into a Centre of Excellence having nation wide reputation.
5.5.4 Right to information has been given statutory validity by incorporating in the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Kerala Municipalities Act.
5.5.5 A state level Council under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister has been formed to formulate policies for Local/Regional Development and to co-ordinate District and State Plans.
5.5.6 The Urban Local Bodies were given the authority to formulate spatial plan and consequently Development Authority lost relevance. Authorities based in 5 Small Towns have been abolished .
5.5.7 A State Level Co-ordination committee under the Chairmanship of Minister (LSG) has been formed to take decision on matters concerning decentralised planning. This has avoided the routine processing of issues at official level facilitating instant decisions.
5.5.8 The State Election Commission has been formed and two general elections to the LSG institutions have been conducted by the Commission so far.

5.5.9 The State has appointed two State Finance Commission. Barring a few, almost all the recommendations of the 1st finance commission have been implemented by the State Government.
5.5.10 In addition to subjects listed in the 12th schedule a number of subjects allotted to various Departments have also been transferred to LSG Institutions.
5.5.11 Government will impress upon the urban local bodies to strive hard to pool all their resources and know-how for improvement of quality of life. Government will not exercise power for granting exemption from the provisions of the Law, over the head of the urban local bodies in an arbitrary manner. Government will strive hard to make the urban local bodies as genuine third level of Government. At the same time they will impress upon the urban local bodies to give top priority in discharging their statutory responsibilities.

6.0 PLANNING WITH A FUTURE VISION

6.1 Urbanisation Strategy
6.1.1 The poor picture depicted in the development scenario of our urban areas is mainly due to the lack of proper vision and master schemes, which envisage long term and short term effects of urban infrastructure improvements. Proper development strategy should cater to the development needs of urban society ensuring modern comfort levels and standard of living while preserving natural, cultural and historical entity of the city. 6.1.2 Considering the urbanisation trends in Kerala, the urbanisation strategy to be adopted for the state needs a broad based assessment. It has to take into account the fact that there are 58 statutory towns and 101 other census towns together with urbanized villages.

6.1.3 It is necessary to identify urban centres which demonstrate economic potentials and propensities and to prioritise them. Such an attempt will lead to ‘Selective Urban Development’ which will give a fillip to development of many other sectors of development. Along with this approach the minimum required infrastructure support shall also be given to other not so economically potential urban area to serve an existing population. The Government shall identify such towns and cities and prepare urban development investment packages for preferential development treatment of such towns and cities, which require intersectoral investments.

6.1.4 The present practice of annual planning based on the budgetary provision envisioning only short period implementation is inadequate and will hamper the comprehensive mass scale development of the town. Therefore an integrated and co-ordinated planning strategy based on comprehensive master scheme which effectively reflects the social, cultural and heritage factors of every city is required.

6.2 Involvement of Private Sector6.
2.1 Kerala is one of the advanced States in terms of physical quality of life index. It also is a model in the developing world for its achievement in social sectors such as health, education etc. At the same time the physical infrastructure in the State presents a very poor picture. Government is preoccupied with its existing commitment on the social front thereby limiting its ability to make fresh investment in infrastructure.

6.2.2 The urban local bodies are supposed to generate their own financial resources. However, these bodies do not often muster the courage to levy taxes under their powers. Inadequate taxation and inefficient management both render the municipal services far from satisfactory. The infrastructure development is not in a position to keep pace with the population growth of such cities resulting in serious inadequacies in service. Since public funds for urban infrastructure projects are inadequate urban organizations have to look for alternative sources of funding from financial institutions. Participation and availability of private sector funds for development of infrastructure therefore becomes not only desirable but also absolutely essential. A number of options have emerged in private sector / non government organizations participation in the financing and management of urban services in India. These should be tapped to the benefit of the public. Out sourcing and Private Sector Participation have the following advantages:· Utilization of Private funds thereby ensuring budget savings
· Timely availability of funds and thereby ensuring faster completion of project

· Efficiency in execution
· Savings in cost
· Development of Trade and Commerce
· Ability of Local Bodies/ Development Authorities to focus on other core areas
· Avoidance of problems of maintenance and administering personnel etc.
· Boost Government Revenue.
· Opportunities for capital market development
· Potential to stimulate foreign direct investments
· Availability of innovative technology


6.2.3 The presumption that involving private Sector in itself makes for higher level of efficiency is not correct. Some services seem to be more efficiently and effectively supplied, regardless of whether they are in public or private ownership. Introduction of private produces into urban service may bring benefits but it also brings risks. There is possibility or unwillingness of contractors to deal with less profitable areas, pressure to raise prices in monopoly situations, bankruptcy and difficulties of co-ordination between multiple producers. Government agencies are also not immune from these problems. Hence Government is likely to have an involvement in the role of funder and regulator. Government should have an ultimate responsibility, but entire operational responsibility is to be transferred to private sectors. There shall be clear segregation between Governmental functions and functions and services assigned to private sector. Provisions may include role such as establishing policies or plans and ensuring their implementation drawing up and monitoring contracts ensuring standards of service, financing, advising, enabling, co-ordinating, regulating and licensing or monitoring the production and management of service delivery. Government shall continue to perform the regulatory tasks.

6.2.4 Government is committed to provide the best service possible to the tax payer at the lowest possible cost. It would therefore explore all options such as outsourcing of service, privatisation, Public Private Participation ( P.P.P ) etc., to achieve these objectives. The feasibility of involving co-operatives and N.G.Os will also be explored.


6.2.5 Urban Regulatory Authority Government will constitute an Urban Regulatory Authority. This Authority will be entrusted with the responsibility to ensure private sector participation in municipal services, avoid creation of monopolies in municipal services, maintain quality of services, make sure that the cost of services to the public is reasonable and will also function as a forum for receiving complaints/ suggestions etc., on all urban services. This authority will be given statutory powers to enforce these objectives. To begin with, issues relating to the power and water supply of Municipal Corporation of Thrissur will be brought under the purview of this Authority.

6.3 Development of Growth Centres
6.3.1 The urban areas which have the potential to be developed as major growth centers with prospects in different sectors such as industries, tourism, I.T, trade, commerce etc., shall be identified, planned and developed. The growth centers will improve the economic status of the people of the region, curtailing unplanned urban spillovers and adverse impact on the productive agriculture sector in rural areas. This will help in improving the balanced economic development of the state. The status of infrastructure in such growth centers will also be improved to meet the increase in demand. Prospects for private – public participation in implementing various projects in growth centers will be explored.
6.3.2 Planned Development The development activities of cities and major towns in Kerala have not kept pace with their growing demand. The status of physical and social infrastructure needs immediate improvement. The urban areas will be prioritised and interim development plans will be prepared for those towns, which are not covered under development plans. This will facilitate in undertaking urban development projects for more towns under various schemes such as IDSMT (Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns – a centrally sponsored scheme). Traffic Improvement and Management Schemes for these towns will be prepared and implemented in a time bound manner.
6.3.3 The 58 statutory towns in the state are classified under 5 categories based on the present developments in these towns and the future economic development potentials of these towns Kochi city region has already attracted substantial industrial activity supported by well developed trade and commerce. The port, the newly developed airport and railway linkages have contributed to the development of Kochi region as the prime economic node of the state. This region rightly deserves the most priority status for convergence of infrastructure and development inputs. The National Commission on Urbanisation has identified this Region as the Spatial Priority Urbanisation Region (SPUR).The capital city of Thiruvananthapuram is the apex centre of all governmental functions. The Executive and Legislative arms of the Government have their apex bodies functioning in this city which have contributed to the development of the present city structure.These institutions along with highly developed education and health facilities and the potential tourism centres within the city region demand that the capital city region be considered as a special priority region in the state. From the economic development point of view, Thiruvananthapuram city region is also considered as a priority city in the state.

Kozhikode city is the nodal point for all districts in the northern region. Kozhikode has traditionally been developed as a centre for forest and agro based industries. It has a high order of development in trade especially in food grains, marine products and spices. The city offers very high potential for development contributing to the economic development of the entire northern region of the state. In view of this Kozhikode is considered as the second priority city.The urban agglomerations of Thrissur, Kannur, Kollam, Alappuzha, Palakkad and Kottayam, apart from being District Head Quarter towns also serve a very vast hinterland providing higher order facilities in services, marketing, health, education and production. Development inputs into these towns may have positive multiplier effects. Infrastructure development in these towns can attract many private sector production units which can contribute to the economic development of the state. Each one of these towns has already attracted specialized functions which could be further exploited. These towns deserve special priority treatment and are therefore classified under ‘priority three’ towns.The remaining statutory towns are classified under priority four towns depending on their potentialities for development and their economic development capabilities.

6.3.4 Government will introduce a system of categorizing and prioritizing cities / towns for infrastructure investments in view of their respective roles in economic development.
The Government will fix and publish appropriate criteria and their weightage for arriving at the priority; so that the local bodies can know how and how far they can come up and go down the priority ladder. Plan funds will be released only on assessment of performance of ULBs in the field of statutory obligations. The Government will direct preparation of development strategies for each of these towns considered under the above classifications. Short term and long term development packages will be prepared for all these towns and the timely implementation of these development proposals will be coordinated with all the sectors involved in development. Projects under statutory town planning schemes shall get priority while preparing such development packages.
6.3.5 Spatio economic integration will be ensured in the budget proposals and budgetary allocation will be enhanced for implementation of Town Planning Schemes. The annual planning and budgeting system will be functionally linked with 5 year Development Plans and long range ( 20 - 25 years ) Perspective Plans.
6.3.6 At present there is no unified Town and Country Planning legislation for the state. The present Town Planning Acts have only very limited scope and provide for preparation of only General Town Planning Schemes for towns and Detailed Town Planning Schemes for priority areas. The Government propose to bring out a unified legislation on Town and Country Planning with wider provisions for preparation of State Spatial Development Plans, Regional Development Plans, District Development Plans, Urban Development Plans and Special Area Development Plans.6.3.7 Local Self Governments often ignore the future development issues of the towns as a whole and therefore major town level projects which transcend the boundaries of the wards were not given adequate importance. In order to over come this gap in the comprehensive long term planned development of the towns, Government desire to support major town level projects and major innovative urban development projects taken up by ULBs. Government will create Kerala Urban Development Innovation Fund with specific guidelines for selection of projects, usage of funds etc.

6.4 Urban Land Policy
6.4.1 Land Consolidation Land being the source of all civilistation need to be protected, preserved and used
for greater good of the society. The procurement of land required for providing public facilities and services; even the essential ones; often meet with little scope due to the high density of population in the state. The problem is more acute in the urban areas. Procurement of land for such public purposes can be materialised through urban land consolidation. Possibilities for practices such as allocation of alternate land, issuing of TDR (Transfer of Development Right), urban land reconstitution, creation of Land Banks, popularizing land lease etc., shall be studied and explored.
6.4.2 Urban land being the base on which all urban activities take place it is important that
urban land management be made more effective. A comprehensive urban data base is a prerequisite for effective urban land management. The National commission on Urbanisation has emphasized this point in their recommendations. The Government shall make required arrangements to build up Urban Land Information System (ULIS) in a phased manner. The traditional system of acquisition and processing of data is time consuming and liable to errors and is difficult for retrieval when necessary. The state Government have attempted to design and launch a special program to develop city / town maps using remote sensing; GIS and latest computer application technologies and Management Information System/Data Base for effective Urban and Regional Planning. The manpower and technical expertise in the state shall be effectively utilized including all the institutes and organizations involved in planning studies.


6.4.3 Government reserve the right to designate critical land for its best use. Indiscriminate conversion of low lying urban areas shall be regulated using policies arrived at based on scientific studies. Such a Land Utilisation Policy shall among other things take into account our water resources, mineral wealth, agricultural land, forest land, rural and urban areas etc. Participation of a number of sectoral agencies, both Government and Semi-Government, may be required to prepare such a policy. Inter-sectoral dialogues would be encouraged towards preparation of such a state-level land utilisation policy. Government have powers to reserve any land required for future widening of road without denying the right of the land owner to enjoy the existing use of the land till land is taken over for road widening. In taking over land for road development, the principle of ‘quid pro quo’ shall be adopted which provides concessions to land owner for development and building in lieu of surrendering land for road development.

6.4.4 Development Charges Development charges shall be levied on every land transaction, new construction, and new commercial ventures that are coming up in any project area after the notification. In the cases of land transactions and new constructions it can be a one-time charge and in the case of commercial ventures it can be charged annually. In order to collect the charges a notification for land acquisition, a notification under the Town & Country Planning Act to ensure development control, a tender of particular work etc can be accepted. Development charges can be collected for all projects irrespective of the fact whether the projects are implemented by State, Central, Local Governments, Development authorities, PSUs, PSPs or purely private.The Development Authorities can charge development charges wherever they exist and if there are no development authorities in existence it can be charged and collected by the local bodies. Depending upon the project the charges could vary from 5 to 15 years. The amount thus collected should not be unreasonably high and it can be mandated that prior permission of the Government be required to charge this. In order to avoid too many development charges there should be safe guards such as insisting floor tag on the project cost etc. . Projects, which are based on collecting user fee, need not be exempted from this levy, if those paying user fee and those getting benefits are different persons. In order to encourage people to surrender land for road widening etc they are given additional FSIs. In such cases certain formulae can be worked out. If the cost of surrendered land is more than the proposed development charges the landowners can be exempted from the development charges. Proportionate reduction in development charges for the land surrendered can also be considered when the cost of surrendered land is lower than the proposed development charges. Moreover, the Development charges shall be applicable only to these who avail the benefit of the scheme.

6.4.5 Recently in urban areas, there has been a trend in construction of high rise buildings for residential apartments and for other uses. There have been arguments for and against such high rise buildings. In many cases there has been arbitrariness in permitting the maximum Floor Area Ratio. From the planning point of view the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) permissible for an area shall be based on the considerations of the infrastructure availability in the area. High rise-high density developments can be permitted only in those parts of the towns where the available infrastructure is well developed and/or the infrastructure capacity could be augmented without creating imbalance to the infrastructure system of the town. In such cases the additional cost for capacity augmentation can be collected from the developers. Parts of the town where such high rise-high density development can be permitted and where it cannot be permitted can be identified in each town and this can be incorporated in the zoning regulations of the development plans and regulations on high rise buildings.
6.5 Conservation of Heritage Structures And Open Space

6.5.1 Historic towns in Kerala still possess heritage buildings and precincts though the economic pressures on prime urban land is threatening their existence. Also, in order to give impetus to tourism – one of the major sectors identified to boost the economic development of the state, conservation of the rich heritage structures and areas will be given priority. Appropriate schemes, projects and regulations will be materialised for meeting the above objectives. Wherever feasible, land owners of heritage sites may be offered T D Rs with higher FARs at alternative locations in lieu of maintaining the status / upkeeping the heritage. The role of Art and Heritage Commission for Kerala will be strengthened for this purpose. By protecting Archaeological and cultural sites and establishing Museum and other adaptive uses , Urban Local Bodies can attract tourists from all over.6.5.2 The extent of parks and open spaces in the urban areas of Kerala is far below the standard norms. Development of the same including those of specialized nature such as amusement parks, recreational walkways etc., will also be given appropriate weightage and encouragement. Prospects for involvement of N.G.O.s in the upkeep of parks and play grounds will be explored. Conversion of existing recreational open spaces for other uses will be prevented .6.5.3 Government shall require all developers including government agencies to attach Environmental Impact Assessment (E.I.A.) statements to all applications for obtaining approval for major development projects. The Government shall issue necessary guidelines in this regard. Guidelines for preparation of Environmental Impact Statements will also be issued by Government.6.6 Traffic and Transportation6.6.1 Most of the urban areas in the state have grown around a central core. Such urban areas which revolve around a single node face congestion in town centers, resulting in traffic problems. All job centers and activity areas get located in the central area. The peak hour inflow and outflow of traffic to and from the city centre leads to loss of time and energy. This situation demands that the job centers and activity areas be decentralized and that the central city areas are non-intensified. Since traffic is a function of land use, judicious land use planning adopting poly nodal planning approach shall be accepted for the major urban centers in the state.6.6.2 Urban road planning shall deserve special attention in urban planning. Urban roads shall be developed in a phased manner. Urban traffic engineering measures and urban traffic management measures will be properly coordinated. The existing urban roads will be adequately rehabilitated making use of the entire right-of-way, clearing encroachments on the roads, providing end-to-end surfacing with shoulders, footpaths, bus bays and parking lots. Feasibility of private sector participation for projects in transport sector will be explored. Prohibition of encroachments on foot paths, bus bays, parking lots and ensuring maintenance of road side drains, streetlights and footpaths along that road stretch abutting the frontage of a particular plot will be the responsibility of that particular plot owner. This can be ensured through the urban local body / NGO’s / Co-operatives / concerned departments etc.Imposing fines will be resorted to prevent road encroachments. Provisions of Pedestrian aides and wholly walking areas will be encouraged. Road side parking will be prohibited and parking fee will be auctioned. Government will initiate setting up of traffic regulatory cell in major urban centres.6.6.3 Land under the possession of Government and the local bodies will be identified to provide off-street parking places at appropriate locations. Owners of vacant land shall be licenced to use the same as parking stations, with fee, a portion of which can be municipal tax 6.7 Health Care6.7.1 The Local Bodies look after primary health care activities of the urban areas viz.provision of sanitary service, water supply, control of communicable disease, sewage disposal, health education etc.6.7.2 Maternity and Child Welfare services are provided by Maternity and Child Health centres. But the urban people are not fully utilising the MCH centres due to the higher consumer expectation of the people. By and large people prefer to go straight to the specialists whereas the MCH centres provide service through Junior Public Health Nurses only. Women doctors are not available in many places and other adequate infrastructure facilities such as proper building , equipment, furniture and medicines are lacking.In rural areas there are sub centres and primary health centres providing preventive services to people. Also there is a well established system for the provision of health care from bottom to top by Department of Health Services.The entire system is controlled by the District Medical Officer . On the other hand the Urban Local Bodies have only a proper system for sanitation service. Maternity and Child Health service centres are to be brought under the technical guidance and supervision of the Department of Health Services and the same are not extended to urban people. All the national programme are implemented by the Department of Health Services directly. These programmes can be effectively implemented in the urban areas through Urban Local Bodies. Prospects for the involvement of private sector/ trust / NGOs in the provision of health care facilities, and health education shall be explored.6.8 Boost to Construction Industry. As a result of the slump in our economy, the construction sector in the state has been showing a downward trend for the last few years. The state’s tourism potential still remains to be tapped in full. To attract tourists better infrastructure including better habitats have to be developed. The Kerala Municipality Building Rules have been amended drastically to allow springing of more hotels etc. The Rules will be further amended to avoid any degree of arbitrariness in giving building permits and make optimum use of land. In order to upgrade the standards of Hotels , they may even be given tax incentives .Hawkers Market will be developed at convenient places.6.9 Urban Sanitation
6.9.1 Urban Drainage: Urban Drainage is an important parameter in urban development. Conversion of low lying paddy fields, water bodies, ponds etc. indiscriminately, has resulted in surface drainage problems in many an urban area. Due to this, during cloud-bursts and heavy monsoons, floods occur causing damage to men and materials. Land zoning and new land developments will be viewed with regard to urban drainage aspects and the required measures will be strictly enforced.
6.9.2 Urban drainage will be considered as part of urban road development planning.
Urban Drainage being a specialized technical subject, adequate expertise shall be developed in the state and required institutional assistance for urban drainage shall be found. Private sector participation will be explored in this area also.
6.9.3 Solid Waste Management: Government shall give top priority to keep the cities and towns clean. To achieve this objective the government shall give more thrust for solid waste management in urban local bodies. By the end of 2002 all major towns in the state will establish scientifically designed solid waste management system including improved methods of collection and transportation, recycling etc., without causing environmental pollution. Involvement of residents’ association in urban sanitation projects will be considered favourably where ever feasible. The Government shall encourage the urban local bodies to explore the possibilities for bringing in private sector participation in certain areas of solid waste management and sanitation programs.
6.9.4 The Government shall co-ordinate all urban sanitation programs available and operating within the State. Convergence of many sanitation programs at specific area level shall be encouraged to achieve overall development of any particular area. The urban local bodies shall be encouraged to constitute statutory committees with public participation including participation of non-governmental voluntary organizations for implementing and supervising urban sanitation programs.
6.9.5 Hygienic sanitary latrines for public use will be made compulsory with eateries, hostels , restaurants, petrol pumps , supermarkets , malls public buildings etc..
6.9.6 Sewerage System: The urban local bodies in the state, barring a small extent in the municipal corporations of Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi , do not have planned sewage disposal system. Government will promote setting up of underground sewerage system and liquid waste treatment plants with private sector participation. High density areas of Corporations and major Municipalities will be given priority in setting up of under ground sewerage system whereas provision of in site sanitation will be encouraged in low income areas.
6.9.7 Public Crematoria shall be established in all Urban Local Bodies, according to the felt need of the Public. 6.9.8 Modern slaughter houses will be established in all Urban Local Bodies. Private Sector agencies will be encouraged and provided financial assistance in establishing slaughter houses. Every effort will be made to improve the sanitation and cleanliness of slaughter houses.
7.0 ACCOUNTING REFORMS
The system of maintenance of accounts in urban local bodies is outdated. This is neither a single entry system nor a double entry system. It will be easy to maintain the books of accounts if the same is maintained under the double entry system, which is universally accepted. The receipts and payments account, income and expenditure account and the balance sheet can be drawn up direct from the trial balance, which is a statement of various accounts. The various tools for financial control and management such as funds flow statement; cash flow statement etc. can also be drawn up. Government visualize change over of the accounting system as a priority area. Chartered Accountants / firms shall be appointed in local bodies for handling accounting matters. Recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission will be considered in effecting accounting reforms in urban local bodies.

8.0 FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
8.1 The main source of income of any urban local body is its tax revenue. But it is doubtful whether these bodies are capable of exercising its powers with reference to the assessment and collection. There is a tendency among the people either to evade tax/levy or to get it reduced than what ought to be. The gravity of this problem varies from Municipality to Municipality. But everywhere it is there. So it is felt to make the system of assessment and collection more effective by making it fool proof. Government will give greater autonomy to Urban Local Bodies in the fixation of taxes, rates, user charges etc while removing chances of misuse , arbitrariness etc. The Government will also impress upon the urban local bodies to keep down the gap between revenue and expenditure. Augmentation of Municipal finance through floating of Municipal bonds will be considered.
8.2 Besides the tax revenue and grant-in-aid from the State, the urban local bodies often seek financial assistance from the various financial institutions such as LIC of India, HUDCO, KUDFC etc., to part finance their developmental activities. In seeking these assistance they seldom observe financial propriety such as viability of the scheme, capacity to refund etc. Some of these schemes often land the urban local bodies in trouble. Borrowing limit of the local bodies will be linked to their revenue. Ceiling limit will be imposed on loans taken by ULBs from LIC, HUDCO, KUDFC etc. . Local bodies will be made more accountable for their debt servicing which would include attaining credit worthiness before borrowing from the market. Government will actively involve in these areas.
8.3 There is increasing tendency in urban local bodies to divert the earmarked funds to other schemes and in certain cases even to meet their overhead charges. This should be curtailed. If need be, a legislation will be brought out to enforce financial discipline among urban local bodies.
8.4 Property Tax: Property tax is a major source of income for the Local Self Government organisations. The present system of assessment and collection of the tax are unscientific and arbitrary and lead to corrupt practices. The Government proposes to rationalise the Property tax structure in a simple way of calculation based on plinth area. This in addition to plugging the holes for corrupt practices will boost the income of local bodies considerably.
8.5 Entertainment Tax
8.5.1 Another area which is highly abused in the State is the Entertainment Tax. Government believes that taxation should not cripple an industry. At the same time it should leave no loopholes for evasion and corruption. Milder the taxation, easier it is to collect. There is high degree of evasion, under-assessment, collusion, corruption and unjustifiable differences in taxation level between various local bodies. Government proposes to restructure the entertainment tax system so as to make it easy to assess, easy to collect, difficult to tamper with meanwhile financially beneficial to the local bodies.
8.6 External Assistance: Eventhough every effort will be made to increase flow of funds to the urban areas by improving tax collection , getting central assistance , attracting private investment etc. these measures alone will not be sufficient to convert the towns and cities into vibrant economic engines of growth . It also requires liberal external funding . Urban Sector restructuring will be used effectively to generate interest among external financial agencies / donor countries to support the bold innovative and effective reform process initiated in the state .
8.7 Development Authorities: Development Authorities in the five municipal corporations are undertaking several development schemes for improving urban infrastructure. All the existing development authorities will be supported by government in the discharge of their declared objectives. The role of Development Authorities will be reoriented and redefined. Emphasis will be given to Capital City Development.
9.0 KUDUMBASHREE
9.1 The Kudumbashree was conceived mainly as an urban employment generation programme through active involvement and empowerment of women for eradication of poverty.
9.2 The initiatives of the mission have been receiving attention of the different agencies involved in this sector including the bilateral agencies. The methodology adopted by the mission is to build community structures of women drawn from poverty stricken families and facilitate them to overcome the tide of poverty through social and economic empowerment. The thrift and credit operations of the community based organizations help the poor women to combat the economic difficulties and proved as an informal bank of the poor. The thrift will have to be raised up to Rs.100 crores and an action plan will be drawn up to achieve this end.
9.3 Other Poverty Alleviation Programmes. To alleviate poverty and to ensure sustainable economic development it is an imperative necessity to increase the income level of the poor. The thrift and credit operations will help the poor women only to meet their immediate requirements and do not increase their regular income except in cases where they utilize the thrift amount for income generating activities. It is therefore not conceived as a solution to combat the poverty scenario on a long-term basis. Additional income generation is possible through generating additional employment and it is possible through micro enterprises. In the urban area, the Swarna Jayanthi Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY), the centrally sponsored urban poverty alleviation programme is very effectively implemented to set up micro enterprises of the poor. In the next five years 5000 group enterprises can be set up at the rate of 1000 per year. Similarly, 25,000 families can also be assisted at the rate of 5000 per year under the urban self employment programme. In addition to the funds received from the centrally sponsored schemes, the urban local bodies will be persuaded to invest in the urban poverty alleviation sector.In the centrally sponsored programme – SJSRY – there is another component to provide wage employment to the poor (UWEP). This programme will be effectively implemented to create infrastructure facilities in the Municipalities and thereby generate a minimum 50,000 man days of labour in the next five years at the rate of 10,000 man days per year. The centrally sponsored scheme for slum development (NSDP) will be implemented with vigorous zeal . Urban Local Bodies will be encouraged to prepare projects for development of infrastructure in the fields of industry , public works and tourism .

10.0 REFORMS IN ADMINISTRATION

The existing organizational structure under urban administration will be reviewed and required modifications in terms of professional capability and technical competence will be effected to ensure proper implementation of Urban Policy of Government.10.1 Legislations. To make the urban structure an effective tool of catering to people’s needs, all the outdated laws will be reviewed and rewritten. The Kerala Slum Clearance Act, 1981, and the Kerala Development Authority Rules will be reviewed. An unified Town Planning Bill will be introduced in the Legislative Assembly. Legislation on housing shall be revamped to protect the interest of the investor / owner too. Registration Act, 1908 will be amended to effect the changing land policies such as enforcement of TDR ,implementation of land reconstitution schemes etc. Rent Control Act will be amended to revitalize urban centres. Land Utilization Rules will be reviewed so as to enable urban local bodies to permit development of agricultural areas in a scientific manner. Adequate legislation will be introduced to ensure and promote conservation of heritage buildings , heritage precincts and natural heritage. Kerala Municipal Building Rules 1999 will be amended with due regard to optimal utilization of land, relevant standards and norms, the specialised settlement characteristics of the State, encouragement of construction activity and fulfillment of the Urban Policy for the State.10.2 Use of Information Technology. The Government is committed to bring in transparency in urban administration at every level. Wide publicity will be given on the legal provision regarding right to information. Modernisation is not possible without the use of Information Technology. The Government is committed to introduce I.T. in various sectors of urban Local Bodies. The computers in various urban local bodies will be networked with that in the headquarters at Secretariat and Director’s level. E Governance will be introduced in ULBS.10.3 Directorate of Urban Affairs The functions and responsibilities of Directorate of Municipal Administration has undergone vast changes. There is a felt need to give a developmental orientation to the Directorate. It will also be converted to a professional organisation which will make use of the services of the experts in this field to ensure proper implementation of Urban Policy of Government by studying the urbanisation trends, patterns etc., of the State. The present Directorate of Municipal Administration will be converted into Directorate of Urban Affairs. 10.4 Kerala Urban Development Finance Corporation. The Kerala Urban Development Finance Corporation will be restructured and made a financial organization to cater to the needs of the entire local government institutions in the State. 10.5 Enforcement The enforcement machinery in the urban local bodies will be reinforced and streamlined. The Municipal and Town Planning Laws will be enforced strictly. Municipal Employees engaged in enforcement work will be vested with the authority under section 552 of the Kerala Municipality Act, 1994. All forms of arbitrariness will be done away with. This will be applicable in assessment of tax. The tax structure will be streamlined and simplified. The Vigilance Cell will be strengthened so as to improve enforcement and transparency.

11 HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT

11.1 The Government shall make available modern technological facilities and equipment to personnel engaged in Planning and Development. Town & Country Planning Department being the prime agency for providing technical input for the planned development of settlements in the State, Government shall ensure availability of trained manpower in the Department. Regular in-service training programs shall be instituted for municipal personnel in planning, urban administration, municipal finance and accounting, urban engineering etc. The Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) will be strengthened. The training facilities available in the KILA and other institutions within and outside the state would be availed of for imparting training to Municipal and Planning personnel. Networking with training institutions outside the state will also be considered.
11.2 Training and interactive sessions for the planning and municipal personnel with voluntary organizations and professional organizations like ,the Institute of Town Planners will be encouraged. Qualification for various posts in the Urban Local Bodies will be reviewed and refixed to cater to the increased responsibilities.
11.3 The Government shall earmark funds in the annual plans of the State for H.R.D. of planning personnel in Government. Similarly the Local Bodies will be required to earmark a percentage of revenue earnings for in-service training of their staff.
11.4 The urban administration, which is supposed to rise to meet the changing needs of the public, is in a bad state. Every effort will be made to improve the efficiency of urban administration. An institute exclusively for catering to the needs of Urban Sector will be set up. Regular training programmes will be organised for elected representatives and officials to equip them with the latest techniques to deal with the ever increasing urban problems.

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