Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday said the criminal neglect in the 70 years after independence was responsible for the sad state of India’s urban planning even as the Modi government had taken the required measures to address the problems.

“Starting point of any analysis of Indian urban space is characterised as criminal neglect and much of this has been evident for most of the 70 years of our existence,” said Singh during a discussion at an event based on Planning of Urban Spaces here.

The Minister advocated shaming the garbage throwers to make the cleanliness drive successful.

Talking about the flagship schemes of the Modi-led government, such as the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, the Minister said there was significant improvement as the government had shifted its focus to urbanisation in the backdrop of 31 per cent of the population living in urban spaces and the majority of the revenue coming from there.

“The fundamental shifting after 2014 is that the present government has embraced urbanisation in a positive way and looking at it as economic opportunities,” he said.

As of 2014, the global population was at 7.6 billion and 53.6 per cent (3.9 billion) lived in urban spaces, which is likely to go up to 63 per cent by 2050, the Minister added.

He said the country was preoccupied with rural development for a few decades post-independence since “we are an agricultural country”.

“About 66 per cent of population still lives in rural areas. But the contribution of agriculture to the GDP is reducing. It is just 12 per cent,” Singh said.

“Thus, people are moving to urban areas, which is a reality,” he said, adding that this phenomenon needed to be dealt with.

Singh said municipalities in the country needed to be empowered and made financially viable in order to get the planned urbanisation done.

“The future lies in municipalities being empowered and floating bonds so they can raise money. Pune and Hyderabad have already shown the way,” he said, adding that the earlier governments were control freaks while the present government had a hands-off approach.

He said if civil servants were sensitive and efficient, municipal programmes including cleanliness drives could be implemented successfully.

“Indore could do it garbage-free. Why not others?… It may not be a bad idea if we put in the annual confidential reports of civil servants if he or she is sensitive to swacchata,” he said.

“In swachhata sarvekshan (cleanliness survey), I see improvement. But every time I cite the figure, somebody gives me anecdotal evidence that there is garbage dumped behind his house. The best thing is to click a photograph. Hopefully, we can shame someone who throws the garbage,” he said.