Speaking at the valedictory function of 11th Metropolis World Congress 2014 here, the first major conference hosted by Telangana state, Mukherjee said urban India today faces a backlog in the provision of basic amenities and infrastructure.
    
"About nine percent of urban India does not have access to safe drinking water and 12.6 percent have no toilet facilities," the President said.
    
He said a clean city is the first and foremost parameter of equity as he lauded the recent initiative of the Centre in this regard.
    
"A clean city is the right of every citizen. Urban administrators must treat cleanliness as non-negotiable requirement. They must make a paradigm shift from waste- dumping to waste-processing. Garbage must be seen as a resource," he said.
    
The President said the Centre has launched a massive campaign called "Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan" which seeks to provide sanitation facilities to all and clean urban India in the 4041 statutory towns by 2019.
    
Mukherjee also highlighted issues of city planning like traffic management, pollution, safety, public transport, housing.
    
"Pollution is another huge challenge in cities today. The focus must be on prevention rather than mitigation of pollutants, apart from creating lung spaces and green cover, we must encourage people to adopt energy efficient technologies," he said.
    
Mukherjee warned that unless greenery and conservation is included in the policy-making and planning stage itself, the "green deficit will always remain huge and impossible to fulfill.

Mukherjee said planned urbanisation is one of the keys to unlock the country's growth potential.
    
"Urban population recorded an annual growth rate of 2.76 percent and 2011 census reported a dramatic increase in the number of million-plus cities in India from 35 to 52," he said.
    
Mukherjee said these urban areas are now acknowledged as "engines of economic growth and more than 60 percent of country's Gross Domestic Product emanates from there.
    
The President said the central government is launching new Urban Development Mission to support states by 'handholding' them in building infrastructure and services to cope up with rapid pace of urbanisation.
    
"A new mission mode programme is being designed to take up these activities for 500 cities. Private sector participation by way of PPP (public-private partnership) will be encouraged. The government's focus will also be to support capacity-building programmes for our elected as well as officials working in the urban sector," he said.
    
He urged the administrators to utilise the technology and the internet to provide better amenities to the citizens so that they do not have to waste their productive time in accessing such facilities.
    
The President said government-to-citizen services should be available online with minimal human interference and many novel steps in this direction have been taken during last decade.
    
"As people increasingly depend on the internet for getting their services, entire cities will need to be wi-fi- enabled...the smart city approach will merge planning, governance, ecology, environment, infrastructure and information technology to ensure that benefits of technology reach every neighbourhood...," he said.
   
The President said the private sector should be invited through PPP mode to ensure housing for all and prevent creation of new slums.

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