- India’s independence was in itself a turning point in its economic history. The country was poor as a result of steady deindustrialisation by the British.
- Less than a sixth of Indians were literate. The abject poverty and sharp social differences had cast doubts on India’s survival as one nation.
- India’s share of world income shrank from 22.6% in 1700 (almost equal to Europe’s share of 23.3%) to 3.8% in 1952.
- The country that owned the brightest jewel in the British Crown lagged behind in the world in terms of per capita income at the beginning of the 20th century.
History of Infrastructure Development in India
- The Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) of 1948 proposed a mixed economy.
- Earlier, the ‘Bombay Plan’, proposed by eight influential industrialists envisaged a substantial public sector with State interventions and regulations in order to protect indigenous industries.
- The political leadership believed that since planning was not possible in a market economy, the state and public sector would inevitably play a leading role in economic progress.
- India set up the Planning Commission in 1950 to oversee the entire range of planning, including resource allocation, implementation, and appraisal of five-year plans.
- These Plans were centralised economic and social growth programmes modelled after those prevalent in the USSR.
- The Planning Commission from 1950 to 2014 formulated twelve five year plans.
- Hydroelectric power projects and five steel plants at Bhilai, Durgapur, and Rourkela were established with the help of the Soviet Union, Britain (the UK), and West Germany respectively. Coal production was increased enormously. More railway lines were added in North East. The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and the Atomic Energy Commission of India were established as research institutes.
- In 1957, a talent search and scholarship programme was begun to find talented students to train for work in nuclear power.
Power and steel were identified as the key bases for planning.
- 680 ft Bhakra multi-purpose project on the Sutlej river in Himachal Pradesh was considered a new landmark of a resurgent India. The huge Bhakra-Nangal dams are among several hydel projects India built to light up homes, run factories, and irrigate crops.
- The second plan set a target to produce 6 million tonnes of steel. Germany was contracted to build a steel plant in Rourkela, while Russia and Britain would build one each in Bhilai and Durgapur, respectively.
- The nationalisation of 14 public sector banks was a major event during the Fourth Plan (1969- 74) which had a huge impact on the Indian economy & infrastructure.
- The Indian National Highway System was introduced and many roads were widened to accommodate the increasing traffic during the fifth plan(1974-78).
Recent Reforms for Improving Urban Infrastructure
- Urbanisation in India has become an important and irreversible process, and it is an important determinant of national economic growth and poverty reduction.
- In order to promote affordable housing, the Government has made several efforts to create an enabling environment.
- Infrastructure status has been granted to affordable housing which will enable these projects to avail the associated benefits such as lower borrowing rates, tax concessions, and increased flow of foreign and private capital.
- Proactive measures, such as the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016(RERA), Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act 2016, higher tax breaks on home loans, the Goods and Services Tax (GST), land-related reforms, optimising development control rules, rationalising of the stamp duty and registration charges, digitalisation, etc., have also been introduced by the Government.
- Before RERA, the Indian Real Estate sector was largely unregulated till 2016, which led to many anomalies resulting in various unfair practices, ultimately affecting the homebuyers adversely. Therefore, a need was being felt for a long time to regulate the sector in such a way so as to ensure transparency and accountability.
- RERA marked the beginning of a new era in the Indian Real Estate sector.
Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)
- Responding to the demand and supply gap in affordable housing, the Government of India launched Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY)- Urban in 2015.
- The larger goal is to fulfil the housing needs of homeless urban poor and enable them to own decent pucca houses with basic infrastructure facilities by 2022.
- Based on demand assessment at the State level, the nation has the mammoth task of constructing about 12 million houses under the EWSILIG segment of the society in order to achieve the goal of Housing for All.
Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs)
- In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, aligning to the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), has initiated Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) for urban migrants/ poor.
- A first of its kind in the country, this initiative will not only improve the living conditions of urban migrants from India is heralding in an era of new transformation, which has an enormous prospect for growth.
- We are expected to become a USD5 trillion economy by 2024 and aspire to become a USDI0 trillion economy by 2030. There is a huge potential for entities to play a transformational role in the upcoming time. There are opportunities for large-scale development to meet the aspirations of the ‘Young India.’
- Between the present and 2030, approximately 700 to 900 million square metres of urban space every year will be constructed. India is witnessing rapid urbanisation. According to Census 2011, India’s urban population was 37.7 crore, which is projected to grow to about EWS/ LlG categories including labour, urban poor but also obviate the need for staying in slums/informal settlements/ peri-urban areas, etc.
- ARHCs will play a vital role in wealth creation, development of infrastructure, and providing dignified living will all basic amenities to the urban poor! migrants.
- It is a new umbrella programme for the highways sector that focuses on optimising the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructural gaps through effective interventions like the development of Economic Corridors, Inter Corridors, and Feeder Routes, National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, Border and International connectivity roads, Coastal and Port connectivity roads, and Green-field expressways.
- A total of 24,800 km are being considered in Phase I of the Bharatmala project. Improvement in the efficiency of existing corridors through the development of Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs).
Urban Mass Rapid Transport
- The concept of mass rapid transit for New Delhi first emerged from a traffic and travel characteristics study that was carried out in the city in 1969.
- While extensive technical studies and the raising of finance for the project were in progress, the city expanded significantly, resulting in a two-fold rise in population, and a five-fold rise in the number of vehicles between 1981 and 1998.
- To rectify the situation, the Government of India and the Government of Delhi jointly set up a company called the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on 3 May 1995, with E Sreedharan as the Managing Director.
- DMRC, a special-purpose organisation, is vested with great autonomy and powers to execute this gigantic project involving many technical complexities, under a difficult urban environment, and within a very limited time frame.
- DMRC was given full powers to hire people, decide on tenders, and control funds. The first line of the Delhi Metro, the Red Line, was inaugurated on 24 December 2002.
- The Delhi Metro became the second underground rapid transit system in India, after the Kolkata Metro, when the VishwaVidyalaya-Kashmere Gate section of the Yellow Line opened on 20 December 2004.
The quality of infrastructure development in India needs urgent attention if the country intends to realise its economic and growth potential.