Urbanisation will be the biggest driver of India's growth story. India needs to create cities that are planned, financed, developed, operated, and managed more efficiently.

Union Budget 2023-24 envisions to create sustainable cities of tomorrow. To translate this, states and cities will be encouraged to undertake urban planning reforms and actions to transform our cities into ‘sustainable cities of tomorrow’. This means efficient use of land resources, adequate resources for urban infrastructure, transit-oriented development, enhanced availability and affordability of urban land, and opportunities for all.

To make cities self-reliant, Budget looks to incentivize cities to improve their credit worthiness for municipal bonds. Property tax governance reforms and ring-fencing user charges on urban infrastructure will also be taken up through collaboration with state and municipal governments.

Like the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF), an Urban Infrastructure Development Fund (UIDF) will be established through use of priority sector lending shortfall. This will be managed by the National Housing Bank and will be used by public agencies to create urban infrastructure in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. States will be encouraged to leverage resources from the grants of the 15th Finance Commission, as well as existing schemes, to adopt appropriate user charges while accessing the UIDF.

To further improve the urban sanitation, all cities and towns will be enabled for 100 per cent mechanical desludging of septic tanks and sewers to transition from manhole to machine-hole mode. Enhanced focus will be provided for scientific management of dry and wet waste.

India’s future is aligned with creating inclusive, self-reliant, and sustainable Indian cities. The provisions under the Budget 2023 will give a major impetus in this direction.

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