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JnNURM - boon or curse?

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Urban DevelopmentEverything elseGovernance

The Union urban development ministry has pulled up the state government for failing to implement reforms it had agreed to bring in while receiving funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for various developmental project in Bengaluru and Mysore. According to sources in the ministry, the state had agreed to either bring in a new law or amend its existing provisions to ensure community participation in developmental activities and administration of urban local bodies (ULBs). It had also reportedly agreed to introduce a Property Title Certification System, and revise building bylaws when signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Union government for funds under JNNURM. The Union urban development ministry has painted a dismissal picture of the state’s performance on all these fronts in its report submitted to the Delivery Monitoring Unit (DMU) of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). It said the state had sought an extension of the deadline to set up Metropolitan Planning Committees (MPC) and was silent on other issues such as bringing in the Community Participation Act (CPA) and e-governance initiatives. A senior officer of the ministry told this newspaper (Deccan Chronicle) that the state had promised to implement all the reforms by the end of 2008-09. But except for some projects taken up by BMTC, all other government agencies had failed to do their bit. “The MoU clearly speaks of public awareness and involvement in the implementation of all the projects under JNNURM. But the state government has simply ignored this,” he said. Civic activists are also unhappy with the way the city is being developed without taking the views of the public into account.

Malleswaram residents welfare association member Manjunath Bhat complains that projects are carried out according to the whims and fancies of officials. “The new TTMCs are the best example of JNNURM money being wasted,” he said.

For the full report that appeared in the Deccan Chronicle, click here

While, that's what the central UD ministry appears to be saying, here's what I picked up from the minutes of some of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG - headed by Mr Ramesh Ramanathan) meetings:

"The Centre introduced the JnNURM, a mission jointly funded by the Centre and the States to give governance and infrastructure development a renewed thrust. Under this program, the release of funds had been made contingent on devolution of development planning and governance, as well as reforms in urban management. While this has raised the resources available for revitalising urban areas, it appears the Ministry regards the reforms agenda as secondary and the principal purpose
is to somehow push the money into the hands of the cities. While funds for the city are highly desirable, since many have not seen this extent of funds for a long time, it is the reforms agenda which makes NURM different from other centrally sponsored schemes.

The Ministry appears to think that the Terms of Reference for the TAG is limited only to items like community participation, helping to create voluntary technical corps, enlist involvement of citizens at grass root levels etc. But, as a member has pointed out, mobilising support of civil society and elected representatives for reforms in urban governance was also an important item in the TOR. However, the Ministry appeared disinclined to TAG’s initiatives or involvement in the reforms agenda. TAG’s composition fortuitously includes people with grass roots experience. But in general TAG members are not urban designers and their membership in the group is by virtue of their organisational experience at different levels. Their true value would really come out in interactions with city managements and elected representatives as well as state officials and political leadership. Given the disinclination of the Ministry in this regard, there is an urgent need to revisit TAG’s ToR and ask the pertinent question of what it is actually supposed to do."

When I posed the question to a former member of the BATF, this is what he had to say "In this space you have unintended consequences. Reform and money was to go hand in hand. But i will still take the sub optimal outcomes. For eg. The low floor buses are welcome. Storm water drains, solid waste management are happening. Better than that money going down some other sarkari project."

I am not sure. Do we just stand-by and watch the major chunk of the Rs 50,000 cr just going down the drain?

Muralidhar Rao


sanjayv's picture

It is a question of incentives

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 It has been fairly obvious that the state has been treating the JNNURM funds as a place to dip into to do "development" projects willy-nilly.  Many of the JNNURM projects have been implemented, to the best of my knowledge, with almost zero input from the stake holder public.  Almost none of the administrative reform have been carried out. 

The intent of the center was to use these funds as an incentive to get states to implement reforms.  However, Karnataka is still getting copious funds despite not meeting the requirements.  I would expect the center to hold a very firm line on the requirements.  If a state does not do its bit, take the money allocated and give it to those states who do a good job (in excess of the allotment, and waive the state contribution requirements for such states).  I am not sure if the policy was properly formulated to incentivize this properly.

IMHO-> the center deserves a large portion of the blame for not toeing a firm line, poor design of the policy.  A poorly governed state should feel the hurt and a well governed state should feel the reward. 

Sandeep's picture


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I found this article as very inspiring as I have just begun to work on JNNURM's incomplete projects. I am a journalist working in Bangalore and I am doing a story on JNNURM projects under BBMP. I would like to talk to you more on this.

If you don't mind, can i have your telephone number so that I can call you and talk about the same?




tsubba's picture


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for me the real positive about this nurm initiative was the mandates it placed on adminstrative/systemic reforms.

from what little i have read, i have not come across any unreasonable/outlandish requirements. i understand that local satraps need space, and when denied that space things like telngana crop up. the center was mindful of that, as far as nurm goes. it only asked that who the local satraps are and how they go about what they go about, be transparent. is that too much to ask?

murali sar any theories on why so much resistance? and no, please dont just say oppurtunity cost & private enterprise - does not cover it all. you have experience, what is your real read, not just easily summarizable chicago school theory.

idontspam's picture

NURM policing

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 I think it is important to note that most of the NURM money has been blown up on superficial easy things to do like building underpasses or purchasing volvos. Not that they arent required but that the money hasnt been used to solve any underlying systemic problems which will change things for good.

Why not property title certification system? Because it is hard to do and the govt doesnt want to do hard work. This is where some 3rd party whip is needed to be cracked which the Citizens and DMC are supposed to do.

Why not use the money to lay cycle tracks and pedestrian tracks all over the city? Why not use it for RTO education systems? Why prefer to blow it on making multicolored Licence cards and call it 'change'? Why not for international standards road marking and upkeep, instead they blow it on unnecessary 'Tagore underpasses'? Why not use it for making priority lanes and run BRTS? Why not for CRS, Why measly 10crore for CRS? Nothing has been done that requires any systemic changes. How do you let the state police themselves and expect results?

Far worse, even the people who are supposed to get the benefits of this are not having a say in what they want to see. So with no accountability govt will just blow it on anything they feel like. We just have to trust their track record of doing good.

So we have the sub optimal outcomes which do superficial good are the easy wins and poll result driven for the govt. How do we force the govt to tackle the optimal outcomes which are harder to do and may not be poll result driven? 

murali772's picture

lack of vision

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The problem perhaps is that we don't have neta's with the right kind of vision for the city/ state. Even an erudite S M Krishna's major 'achievement' will perhaps go down as the building of the Vikas Soudha. Given such a scenario, the babu's take control and execute their grandiose schemes essentially with a view to gaining visibility and thereby the top chair - Cheif Secretary. Some may also be feathering their own nests in the process, in collusion with the neta's.

Immediately the NURM came into effect, I distinctly remember two of the real smart and dynamic babu's, namely Mr K Jairaj (then BBMP commissioner) and Mr Tripathy (then BMTC MD), quickly drawing up their plans and presenting some sketchy details in a number of meetings across the city, essentially to fulfill the NURM stipulation relating to public consultation.

Mr Jairaj in fact organised some 10 meetings across the city on a Sunday, and he and his entourage spent some 15 minutes at each of them, leaving the job of responding to searching queries from the likes of Mr Vijayan Menon to some sub-ordinates, who didn't have a clue as to what the whole thing was. It was plainly an eye-wash. Resulting out of that, came the fly-overs, grade separators, and what have you, even though Mr Jairaj eventually got moved out elsewhere.

The BMTC outsourced the public consultation process to an NGO in Bangalore, who organised the meetings across the city in the course of a month or so. At the meeting held in Jayanagar, I was effectively prevented from having my say, fearing as they were that I would be calling their bluff, and in public. And, resulting out of these exercises came the grand TTMC's, and more and more of the VOLVO's, even though the VOLVO's were known to be huge drain on their finances. Now, even the TTMC's are heading the same way with business houses losing interest in them, and various government departments slowly encroaching into them.

Essentially, governments need to re-learn what governing is all about. May be the IIMB and such institutions need to come together to spell it out clearly.

Here, I would also like to invite reference to an earlier blog on the subject - here.

PS: I have great admiration for both Mr K Jairaj and Mr Tripathy, both of whom I know personally, and I don't in the least doubt their integrity, and they are certainly well-meaning. But, they are essentially conformists. Perhaps, otherwise, like Dr J P Narayan (of Lok Satta), they would also have found IAS too stifling.

Muralidhar Rao
tsubba's picture


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thanks murali sir much food for thought.

silkboard's picture

JNNURM - Failure is around mandatory/optional reforms

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Thanks Murali for that detailed explanation, wasn't aware of the mechanics of BMTC/BBMP's planning process then.

Yes, the JNNURM failure is around reforms. Grants were tied to certain mandatory reforms, and more than the direct public consultation part of it (which we know is broken, and needs a lot of effort to fix, in fact, I think that through and through direct public consultation is impractical), the reforms were interesting. The thing is, Central Govt could have figured out 10 other ways of assisting state govt in re-building cities.

Look at the list of reforms, and compliant cities here:

Just think for real, where is Bengaluru on all of these. Some of the optional and state level reforms are so critical for Bengaluru, we have either failed or escaped with token/symbolic adherence on so many of these.

Mandatory Reforms

  1. e-governance setup
  2. shift to double entry accounting
  3. Property Tax - 85% coverage
  4. Property Tax - 90% efficiency
  5. 100% cost recovery - O&M - for water supply
  6. 100 % cost recovery – SWM (Solid Waste)
  7. Internal earmarking of funds for Urban Poor

Except for #7, which is a good thing for ruling political parties (urban poor go and vote) to do, how has our city fared on this list.

Optional Reforms

From Bangalore perspective, some of the optional reforms are very important, how has Bangalore done there?

  1. Introduction of Property Title Certification System in ULBs
  2. Revision of Building Bye Laws – streamlining the Approval Process
  3. Revision of Building Bye laws - Mandatory
  4. Rainwater Harvesting in all buildings
  5. Earmarking 25% developed land in all housing projects for EWS/LIG
  6. Simplification of legal and procedural framework for conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes
  7. Byelaws on Reuse of Recycled Water
  8. Encouraging PPP
  9. Administrative Reforms
  10. Structural Reforms
  11. Introduction of computerized process of Registration of land and property

State Level Reforms

  1. 74th CAA (Transfer 12 sch. Functions)
  2. 74th CAA (Constitution of DPC)
  3. 74th CAA (Constitution of MPC)
  4. Transfer-City Planning Function
  5. Transfer-Water Supply & Sanitation
  6. Reform in Rent Control
  7. Stamp duty rationalization to 5%
  8. Repeal of ULCRA (Land Ceiling act)
  9. Enactment of Community Participation Law
  10. Enactment of Public Disclosure Law

So, tick Bangalore on above list, and you would know how JNNURM has failed our city.

blrpraj's picture

question of who wields the stick

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Ultimately comes down to whose hands the stick is in...

- give the stick to a cowherd he will weild it like a lathi to herd cows;

- give it to a criminal..he will use it to bludgeon other people;

- give it to a magician..he will wield it like a magic wand to work wonders;

- give it to a musician, he will make good use of it on a drum to entertain others (this is a true story, i saw this happen in my college once when a drummer did this to good effect for fun)

Long story short, the same is with the JNURM. Give it to the chinese and they would have worked wonders while the rest of the world would have cried hoarse saying look they have horrible human rights; look they are communist etc.; Give JNURM to the Europeans or the US they probably would have put it to good use to improve their infrastructure. Give it to the Indian netas, you would end up with netas having a hefty bank balance and TTMCs that do not belong even in a museum.


Naveen's picture

JnNURM - Another Fiasco

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Hello All,

This made interesting reading.

With hierarchal priorities being so dominant in our government setups, the natural corollary has been opposition & protection of each department's own turf. Thus there is little or no co-ordination between government bodies & agencies, since co-ordination is construed as "yielding" or "giving way".

What follows thus, is an underlying principle & an implicitly followed law in the economics of governance in India that has been proven each time without fail :

"No matter what or how well you devise a scheme, the way around will always be discovered & the end result will always be misuse & wastage of funds".

It goes without saying that much of these funds flow into various private kittys since elections have to be fought, & elections need huge funding. Thus, the system has been facilitating things to degenerate, not to mention the opportunities it offers for indulging in greed & corruption.

murali772's picture

JNNURM - a flop

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The Planning Commission’s mid-term appraisal on the flagship programme of the government said that the scheme has been a failure in terms of restructuring of state administration, a mandatory norm required to improve the implementation of infrastructure projects in cities.

“Though four years have passed, only some reforms have taken place. Many are still pending,” said the Planning Commission report. Only 10 states have transferred the 12th schedule of the Constitution. While only 20 states have constituted the district planning committees.

The process of constituting Metropolitan Planning Committees has been completed by only 4 states. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh have shown good progress in urban sector reforms.

For the full report in the DNA, click here.

Apparently, the BMTC's showpiece TTMCs have not quite impressed the Planning Commission

Muralidhar Rao
Naveen's picture

JNNURM - Not Surprising at all

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The politicians, bureaucrats & policy makers of this country are so out of tune with reality that they had imagined that all (65 or so) cities covered under Jnnurm would start shining overnight if funds were given to them with some pre-conditions. They seemed quite sure of success with such remote controlled methods whilst sitting idle in Delhi, leaving it to the states concerned, who seem to have completely misused it barring a few exceptions.

During a panel discussion on CNBC recently, some of these policy makers from planning commision (including Montek Singh Ahluwalia) had even gone on the extreme, claiming that India's economy would become the largest in the world by about 2025!

Justification for such tall claims were provided with references to success in IT, big business houses such as Ambanis, Tatas & UB group becoming multi-nationals, grass-rooted democracy, etc. None, including the media people questioned these claims of success in business by planning commission though it is clear that these happened entirely due to private initiatives (& not due to planning by govt!). No one even mentioned about the huge number of such multi-nationals in many other countries, too!

The five hundred odd million who are still below poverty line, the prevalent, wide-spread lack of respect by citizens for law or the crudely functioning govt institutions with no professional expertise or commitmentwere conveniently ignored !

Questions about misuse & the limited reach of subsidies for the poorer sections were skirted with vague remarks such as "states need to enforce these" or "it will improve in the future".

All this suggests that we still continue to stay blind to the reality that is so obvious: By the time we inch ahead with some progress, the rest of the world would have moved even further ahead, & given this "frog in the well" approach, we will just continue with our excuses, as usual !

idontspam's picture

2 things only

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  1. wide-spread lack of respect by citizens for law or the
  2. crudely functioning govt institutions with no professional expertise or commitment

These 2 things is all we need to fix.

n's picture

JNNURM progress report from

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JNNURM progress report from BBMP has been covered. Too long to cross post. May be admins can move all of it here?

murali772's picture

biggest misuse award

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Perhaps a reward needs to be instituted for the biggest case of misuse of JNNURM funds - BMTC's TTMCs would certainly figure in the forefront of the contest - check this

Muralidhar Rao
murali772's picture

right kind of use

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If the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has its way, citizens will have to walk down the road in the walled city. - - -  The civic body may prohibit entry of three and four-wheelers, including cars, to solve problems related to traffic and parking in walled city areas. The suggestion is part of the proposed parking policy submitted to Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM) recently by AMC. In addition, AMC has proposed to make public transport effective in the traffic-congested areas.

For the full report in the DNA, click here.

Finally, one city appears to be putting the JNNURM funds to the right kind of uses, as compared to what the mafia chieftains here are upto in Namma Bengaluru.

Muralidhar Rao
Sanjeev's picture

JNRUM Report dated 08.08,2014 for Karnataka

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A.   Sr No -17 :   Upgradation side walks andasphalting work of roads  surrounding M.G. Road area  Cost Rs  43.61 Crore  approved in Jan'2007 Central Govt Share is 15.26 Crore

Total amount utilized  Rs 45.60 Crore

B.  Sr No -18   Upgradation side walks andasphalting work of roads surrounding Koramangala area,  Cost Rs 50.44 Crore  total sepnt 42.16 Crore

Now we  know how much work has been done in these area. 

Now we have new tenders for these places under umbrella of TENDER SURE so that  more business is generated. comment guidelines

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