Bihar plans policy change to push urbanisation

The state government has prepared a draft seeking changes to ‘old criteria’ for notifying semi-urban or rural area as urban 

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Tuesday 05 May 2020

The Bihar government has prepared a draft seeking to make changes to the ‘old criteria’ for notifying a semi-urban or rural area as urban. It is doing so to give urbanisation a push in the state as well as seek funds from the Central government in this regard.

The Bihar Urban Development and Housing department has been working silently for the last few months. The preparation, however, was temporarily delayed due to the lockdown imposed in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic.

The central and the state government data conceded that urbanisation was slow in Bihar despite high economic growth and development in the last one decade. The aim of the new draft is to increase urbanisation, a senior official of secretary-level rank of the department said.

Bihar Urban Development and Housing Minister Suresh Kr Sharma told Down To Earth: “We have to bring more areas under urban development by notifying new nagar panchayat to towns. It is necessary for the development of the state.”

Following the Cabinet approval, the urbanisation process will speed up and pave the way for setting up nearly 150 new urban bodies.

The state government team studied different state urbanisation criteria and concluded that there was a need to introduce changes to the old criteria.

For example Bihta, which is 30 kilometres from Patna, developed with an Indian Institute of Technology and other educational institutes, but is not an urban body yet.

There are dozens of developed pockets like Bihta across the state that are lagging behind and hardly get any funds for urban development.
Jai Prakash Mandal, special secretary of the department, said the proposal was pending in view of the lockdown.

Bihar’s urbanisation is among the slowest in the country. According to the 2011 census, the average level of urbanisation was 11.3 per cent in Bihar compared to national average of 31.2 per cent.

As per the latest Bihar Economic Survey report (2019-20), the rate of urbanisation in Bihar was low.

“Within Bihar, the pattern of urbanisation has been skewed. It is 43.1 per cent in Patna and only 3.5 per cent in Banka”.

The other highly urbanised districts are Munger (27.8 per cent) and Bhagalpur (19.8 per cent).

Of the total 199 towns in Bihar, only 26 have a population of at least one lakh. Patna, as the capital city, has maintained its primacy and accounts for 14 per cent of the state’s urban population. It is followed by Gaya, which has a share of 4 per cent.

The report stated that urban areas were considered to be ‘engines of growth’ and ‘shrines of social change’.

However, urban development in the state has been limited. This will lead to expansion of non-farm activities and prevent migration of workers from Bihar to other Indian states.

“We have launched several schemes for urban development by working on season roads, piped water supply, toilets and drainage system,” Sharma said.

He said the government’s seriousness could be gauged from the fact that the budget allocation of the state on urban development and housing was Rs 2,079 crore in 2011-12, which increased to Rs 3,151 crore in 2017-18, registering a growth of 52 percent in six years.

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