Govt proposes 6-fold hike in urban reform incentive fund

New Delhi: The Urban Development Ministry has proposed a six-fold increase in ‘reform incentive fund’ to over Rs 3,000 crore annually over the next three years to push implementation of various schemes in the urban sector.

For providing the incentives, the cities will be ranked based on performance under five reforms — getting credit ratings, initiatives for value capturing finances, adopting ‘trust and verify’ method, land title reforms and bringing in professionalism in municipalities.

These set of reforms were recommended by a group of secretaries for bringing in transformation in the urban sector.

Under trust and verify approach, the government gives nod for various services, like building construction, first and then do the verification.

“To incentivise, implementation of these five transformational reforms, the Ministry of Urban Development has proposed to increase ‘reform incentive fund’ from Rs 500 crore during 2017-18 to over Rs 3,000 crore per year over the next three years of implementation period,” an official release said.

In 2016-17, about Rs 400 crore was distributed for those who pursued reforms indicated in AMRUT guidelines.

The Urban Development Ministry has come out with implementation framework in respect of these reforms under which it targets to provide online approval facility for building construction in all 4,041 cities and towns by 2019-20.

The move aims to cut down on delays for granting permission by adopting ‘grant approvals first and verify later’ approach.

Besides, the government has set a deadline of March, 2020 to make available title certificates for all properties in the next three years on the recommendations of the panel.

Citing a study by consultancy firm McKinsey, the panel noted that 90 per cent of the land records in the country are unclear and cost “land market distortions and unclear land titles” are costing the country 1.30 per cent of the GDP per year.

It recommended enactment of land titling laws and their implementation in a specific time frame.

The ministry will discuss these reforms with states and Union Territories at a national workshop on urban development tomorrow.

To be chaired by Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, the workshop will also witness discussions on new initiatives like Transit Oriented Development Policy, Metro Policy, Green Urban Mobility Scheme, Value Capture Policy and Fecal Sludge Management Policy.