Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath has asked the expert group on urban infrastructure and services led by economist Isher Ahluwalia to revisit its report and come up with a concrete roadmap to help the government implement its recommendations. The Ahluwalia panel had been appointed by Nath's predecessor Jaipal Reddy.
In the report submitted to Nath in March, the panel said that JNNURM had failed in pushing urban reforms and exposed the limited capacity of urban local bodies in implementing infrastructure projects. The JNNURM specified reforms for nagar palikas and municipalities. How will they implement these reforms (on their own), Nath asked. So the scheme is a mess, Nath said. The ministry is seeking ground-level action plans for translating them into reality in addition to the committee's new ideas, which include allowing some 'exclusive' taxes to be collected by urban bodies and encouraging smaller cities to raise finances in a pooled manner.
The Ahluwalia group suggested strong capacity creation in local, state and central government with an allocation of 5 per cent of total scheme funds. It has also suggested merging the ministry of urban development with the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation.