Interview with Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, Honourable MoS (IC), MoHUA


Q1. Respected Minister, the country is glad to see the transformation being brought by four flagship schemes for the 100 smart cities, urban rejuvenation programme for 500 towns and cities under AMRUT, Housing for All under PMAY and Sanitation for All under Swachh Bharat Mission. This is a major initiative for changing the landscape and skylines of cities for organised development. Could you kindly show the impact it has made in creating a major urban transformation?



There is a three-pronged strategy behind the current missions/schemes of the Ministry and their alignment with each other. The first involves looking at Poverty Alleviation, Affordable Housing and Cleanliness across more than 4000 statutory towns of India. Three schemes — Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Livelihood Mission (DAY-NULM), PMAY- Housing for All, and Swachh Bharat Mission address these issues.

The second involves water supply and sewerage requirements in our towns and cities. Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation or popularly known as AMRUT addresses these requirements across all cities with a population of 1 lakh or more. All 500 AMRUT cities also have the earlier mentioned three schemes being implemented there.

The gap in water tap connections at the inception of AMRUT was around 1.39 crore and the aim is to cover these households through AMRUT or through convergence with other schemes. Similarly, coverage of sewerage was 32% at the time of inception of the Mission and efforts are being made to substantially increase this coverage. Development of parks and green spaces is another thrust area of the Mission. So far, 518 parks have been developed at a cost of Rs.285.21 crore.

AMRUT also has a reform agenda covering 11 reforms. The incentive is awarded to the States/UTs for implementing reforms.

Cities are being encouraged to have a credit rating and mobilize resources by issuing Municipal Bonds. So far, credit rating has been done for 462 Mission cities, out of which 161 cities have investable grade rating. The Ministry will incentivize 10 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) for issuing municipal bonds by awarding cash incentive of Rs.13 crore for every Rs.100 crore of municipal bonds issued. Each ULB can claim the incentive for issuing up to Rs.200 crore bonds.  Three cities namely Pune, Hyderabad and Indore have already raised Rs.540 crore of such bonds and have been awarded Rs.70 crore as an incentive.

As a part of Ease of Doing Business in construction permits, Online Building Permission System (OBPS), has been implemented in Delhi and Mumbai.  As a result of various initiatives, the number of procedures has been reduced to 8 and total time taken has come down to less than 60 days for all the approvals and obviating the need for visits to the offices in person. OBPS has also been implemented in 435 AMRUT cities across the country. Five states, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana have implemented OBPS in all ULBs in the State.

Finally, the third focus targets excellence in cities. 100 Smart Cities have been chosen for this purpose under the Smart Cities Mission where we focus on developing core infrastructure, and quality of life of citizens. Digital technology is being used here for the purpose. There are 5151 projects worth more than Rs 2 Lakh crore being developed across the Mission.

I am convinced it would be difficult to find another country undertaking such strategic development at this scale which impacts citizens across such numerous urban areas.

Q2. Under the Smart City Scheme, we learn, it has been done through a city- wise competition and larger consultations with citizens and stakeholder groups. Could you open out on the approach to the same and the acceptance level of city development agenda in smart cities?



India is a diverse country. The reasons for urbanisation, its pace and drivers vary from city to city. The capacity and ambition of the cities differ as well. Therefore, under the Smart City challenge process, the citizens’ engagement became an important feature. Our approach has been that we must understand the aspiration of citizens at the very beginning of the planning exercise in a city. The mission involved consulting 15 million people — we have received some very valuable inputs from them.

Majority of citizens were in favour of the retrofit model for their cities—91 out of 100 cities.  It is not easy to work in an existing city framework, as it has limitations on what and how much can be done. Nevertheless, the best part of this model is that it is almost replicable in other parts of the city. Similarly, the projects identified by every smart city are different from the other. There could be some common elements, but even those elements are customised as per the local needs and context. This I see as the acceptance of the central scheme at the local level.


Q3. The creation of SPV’s for implementation of smart cities within city governance system will definitely give focused attention for implementation. How has been the experience?



The Mission is setting new benchmarks in the governance of urban renewal initiatives at fundamental and structural levels.  For the first time, an institutional mechanism in the shape of SPV has been created at the city level for implementing projects in an integrated way.  It allows the cities now to think in terms of convergence of the objectives, resources and processes of different projects taken up by various agencies towards the realization of a city vision.  Until now, different departments used to work in an independent way with limited synergies among them. Today, every project taken up by the cities is appraised by the smart city SPVs in terms of the public value it creates and integrated with the overall city vision. With the SPVs it has now become possible to consider the city as a whole instead of addressing parts


Q4. Since Smart cities are brownfield projects in existing cities with innovative upgradation inputs and some Area Based Development (ABO) as a greenfield project, how has been the experience for land acquisition for new ABD Areas?



The projects proposed in the Smart Cities mission were expected to have identified unencumbered land for all their projects. However, land availability is always a challenging subject for infrastructure development, more so in brownfield projects. Most of the cities have done well to make the land available for their Smart Cities projects, but some cities have issues which are being sorted out by the respective State Governments.


Q5. With Rs. 500 Crores coming from Central Government and an additional Rs. 500 crores coming from State/ Local Government, it is seen that the DPR of many Smart Cities need investments of the order of two to seven times the grant component of Rs. 1000 crores. How well are Smart Cities geared to raise additional financial investments and adopt innovative new financial products as well?



A major challenge we have to overcome under the Mission is to leverage the grants being provided by the Government. We are pursuing innovative financing models like the issue of municipal bonds, developing PPP projects and formulating value capture policies. The Smart Cities of Pune (Rs.200 crore) and Indore (Rs.140 crore) have raised a significant amount of money through Municipal Bonds and other Smart Cities are expected to follow.

In their proposals, 100 Smart Cities have proposed to finance 45% of the project costs from the Smart Cities Mission funds, 21% through convergence with other Government missions/schemes, 21% from PPP, 4% from loans, 1% from own resources and 8% from other resources. 120 projects with Public Private Partnership (PPP) worth Rs 6,200 crore have either been started or have already completed their work.

Q6. The ambitious AMRUT initiatives for 500 one lakh plus cities, as against 63 cities under erstwhile JnNURM, is making a good impact. Would there be supplemental assistance, over and above the proposed Rs.100 crore being given by Central Government and matching funds from State for each of the Mission cities, considering larger funding needs for major infrastructure upgradation needed?



Under AMRUT Mission, the States/UTs have been empowered to select/develop, design, appraise and approve the projects.  Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs approves the State Annual Action Plan (SAAP) only. The States and Union Territories need not come to the Ministry for approval of individual projects. AMRUT mission has moved from penalization to incentivisation as an incentive for reforms is awarded to the States and Union Territories over and above the project allocation.

AMRUT mission is Rs.1,00,000 crore scheme of which Rs.50,000 crore comprises central share. Out of this, Rs.77,640 crore is allocated for projects, which include Rs.35,990 crore as Central Assistance. Funds are allocated to the States based on an equitable formula. Funds are allocated to the cities by the State based on the requirement of the cities to bridge the gap in services such as water supply and sewerage.

For large funding needs of major infrastructure upgradation, Mission guidelines advocate the use of innovative funding methods like issuance of Municipal Bonds. AS mentioned earlier,  already three cities namely Pune, Hyderabad and Indore have raised Rs.540 crore by issuing municipal bonds and availed incentive under this scheme. Ministry has issued incentive worth Rs.70 crore to these municipalities. These initiatives will encourage ULBs to tap the municipal bond market for taking up development projects and will thus help in making them financially self-reliant.  

Dovetailing of funds through convergence with other Central and State Government Programs/ Schemes (like Smart Cities Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), Namami Gange, etc.) are also encouraged.

Q7. AMRUT cities schemes have a far-reaching impact considering the upgrades for all city’s infrastructure needs. How is the progress across the States?



Delegation of powers to States and UTs has facilitated more expeditious approvals in rapid approvals leading to time and cost savings. Out of the total SAAP size of Rs.77,640 crore, contracts have been awarded for projects worth Rs.48,992 crore (63%) and work is in progress. Further, projects worth Rs.23,545 crore (30%) are at the tendering stage.


Under AMRUT reforms, States and Union Territories have replaced 50.55 lakh streetlights so far out of targeted 95.05 lakh streetlights in the Mission cities. The expected energy savings are 108 crore kWh per annum resulting in the reduction of  CO2 emissions to the extent of 8.64 lakh tonnes per annum.

Credit rating has been done for 462 cities out of which 161 cities have investable grade rating with 35 cities having A-minus or higher rating. Cities are being encouraged to make efforts to improve their rating and mobilize resources by issuing municipal bonds.

Q8. In the context of the larger ‘Housing for All by 2022’ agenda, it is seen that substantial progress has been achieved all over the country.  Kindly share your impressions.



Since the inception of the Scheme on 25.6.2015, a total of 11,696 project-proposals submitted by the States/UTs have so far been accepted for construction of 54,95,963 houses under different verticals of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)[PMAY(U)] comprising total investment of Rs. 302,520 crore and central share of Rs. 83,735 crore. Also, a total of 30,55,153 houses have been grounded for construction and are at different stages of construction. A total of 8,68,151 houses have already been completed.     

Q9. Providing an adequate shelter with basic facilities like water supply, sanitation and electricity is a great boon to the millions of homeless. Could you share the emotional impact as seen from different parts of the country?



PMAY (U) is being implemented in 4323 cities/towns across the country.  The houses being constructed under PMAY(U) are considered to be complete only when the basic facilities like water supply, sanitation, electricity etc. are provided in the houses which contribute in an overall improvement in the living conditions and positive impact on the environment. The video/audio testimonials of the PMAY(U) beneficiaries from various States show that great transformational changes are happening in the lives of the beneficiaries.  The quality of houses and surrounding environment are providing a positive impact on health, hygiene and safety of the beneficiaries. The security issue of female family members is also being addressed by providing toilet and kitchen facilities inside their houses. In total, the Scheme has changed their social status and emotional well-being. The PMAY(U) Mission underscores the strong commitment of the Government to the empowerment of women by providing for title ownership of the house constructed/bought under PMAY(U), in the name of the woman of the household or in joint ownership.

Q10. How is the progress on the Urban Swachh Bharat Abhiyan initiative for providing Sanitation for all? And what is the progress on ODF? Though physical progress seems to be encouraging, the emotional acceptance for using toilets may need some more support for bringing in attitudinal changes. May like to indicate efforts in this direction.



The progress of Swachh Bharat Mission for all the States/UTs is as below:

  • 18 States/UTs have become 100% ODF. These states/UTs are – Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.


  • 2893 ULBs (out of 4379) have been certified as ODF (Self-declared ODF-3369 ULBs).


  • 50.71 Lakh Individual Household toilets have been constructed till now. 7.58 Lakh is under construction stage.


  • The toilet construction status is as below:
Component Mission Target Completed Work commenced Total (%)
Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) 66,42,220 50,71,725 7,58,323 58, 30,048 (87.77%)
Community /Public Toilets (CT/PT) 5,07,587 3,95,200 35,768 4,30, 968  (84.91%)


  • Along with toilet construction and third-party verification, MoHUA has been undertaking a variety of behavioural change initiatives to bring about an attitudinal change among citizens, as well as make the Mission into a ‘Jan Andolan’:
    • Enhancement of Central Government Funding for IHHL to North East and the Himalayan States from Rs.4,000/- to Rs.10,800/-.
    • ODF+ and ODF++ Protocols have been launched on 13 August 2018 with a focus on sustaining ODF outcomes and achieving holistic sanitation. ODF+ protocol focuses on maintenance of community and public toilets, and ODF++ protocol focuses on faecal sludge and septage management.
    • Star Rating protocol for Garbage Free cities’ has been launched on 20 January 2018 to motivate cities to achieve garbage free status. In order to build capacities of ULBs, MoHUA has also conducted 16 regional workshops



  • Swachh Survekshan (SS)




  • Swachh Survekshan 2018 was conducted between Jan’2018  and March 2018, which covered an assessment of 4,203 ULBs. This survey, the first ever Pan India Sanitation Survey impacting around 40 crore people, was probably the largest such survey in the World.


  • The Swachh Survekshan 2019 has been formally launched on 13 August 2018 and will be conducted across all towns and cities. The SS 2019 will be unique in that the service level assessment will be completely online and paperless. Moreover, as against the three data points used in the previous surveys, the 2019 edition will have a fourth data point – the third party certifications of cities (based on garbage free protocol, and ODF, ODF+ and ODF++ protocols introduced by MOHUA). The SS2019 will be focused on ensuring the sustainability of achieved outcomes.
  • Swachh Manch’, has been launched on 13th August’18 which will act as online knowledge management and stakeholder engagement portal to galvanize the SBM into a true ‘jan andolan’.
  • 24,000 additional toilets (approximately) from 562 more cities have been geotagged on Google Toilet Locator


    • MoHUA, along with the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan, and the United Nations Centre for Regional Development of the Division for Sustainable Development/United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs co-hosted the Eighth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific held in Indore from 9th to 12th April 2018.`
  • ‘Swachhata App’ has recorded an additional 68 lakh users and 1.25 crore complaints, with a resolution rate of above 90%; 1983 additional ULBs have been on-boarded
  • Additionally, 1.5 lakh certifications on E-Learning portal of SBM(U)
  • SBM (U) has converged with NUHM to spread SBM messages through ASHA Workers and line functionaries and has also converged with NULM to involve SHGs and similarly marginalised groups in waste management related projects under SBM(U).
  • Halka’, a feature film on sanitation, directed by Padmashree Nila Madhab Panda, has been launched under SBM(U) on 6th August’18.
    • In order to spread the message of swachhata at a national level, the MoHUA has been using traditional PR channels (newspapers etc) as well as digital channels (TV and Radio) and social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter) to disseminate (through DAVP) messages around safe sanitation
    • In order to encourage citizens to participate and become active stakeholders in India’s collective journey towards ‘swachhata’, three prominent groups of stakeholders – celebrities and public figures (Icons), students and young children, and self-help groups – are being actively engaged with, for bringing about the required attitudinal and behaviour change.
    • One of the initiatives taken by the Government of India has been to nominate prominent citizens and institutions in the country, who have made a mark in various walks of life, from film actors to corporate leaders, from sports stars to public leaders, as Swachh Bharat Ambassadors. Till date, nearly such 140 Ambassadors have been nominated at the Centre, state and ULB levels.
    • In order to harness the transformational potential of students, the Ministry, in association with Ministry of Human Resource Development, and central educational boards (CBSE, ICSE, AICTE, UGC, KVS, NVS etc.) launched a nation-wide student engagement campaign on 26 January 2016. The campaign involved mass pledges by every educational institution in the country, between 26 and 31 January 2016. Subsequently, each institution is expected to constitute a “Swachh Ambassadors’ Committee (SAC)” to take charge of the overall sanitation, cleanliness and hygiene conditions in the school/college.
    • MOHUA has launched from August 2016 an intensive national campaign in sanitation, with the tagline “Asli Tarakki”, where children are being used as the medium to disseminate messages around safe sanitation and toilet usage.
    • This has been followed up by another campaign “Swachh Shauchalaya” featuring Suresh Raina, the sports icon, to promote the responsible use of Public Toilets.
    • The NFDC had, on behalf of the Swachh Bharat Mission, run a short film making contest among citizens; the contest saw nearly 4600 inspiring entries on the theme. 20 of the short films have been shortlisted and is being made available publicly for viewing.
    • At the city level, ULBs are engaging extensively with self-help groups at the slum level, utilizing their cooperative power to bring about collective behaviour change, by being change champions themselves (be it in terms of toilet usage and safe disposal, or effective waste management), motivating other slum residents to follow suit. Regular community triggering drives around Open Defecation (OD) spots are held where ULBs, along with self-help groups sensitize slum communities about the need for toilet usage and safe disposal. Swachhagrahis have been selected from among SHG members / ASHA and Anganwadi workers, to undertake long-term behaviour change engagements with communities around identified OD spots, to make them ODF.
    • As an additional level of engagement with SHGs and school children, while notifying protocols for wards and cities to declare themselves ODF, MoHUA has advised protocol guidelines requiring declarations from SHG members
    • MoHUA has partnered with comic book publishers (Amar Chitra Katha, Diamond Comics) to develop and disseminate SBM themed comics for inculcating behaviour change in children
    • In order to encourage citizens to contribute towards their cities’ cleanliness and motivate them to actively participate in the Swachh Survekshan 2018, MoHUA had brought out a series of TV and radio advertisements on various components of Swachh Bharat (e.g. Community and Public toilets, ODF, behaviour change, etc). Similar advertisements will be released for Swachh Survekshan 2019 too.
    • MOHUA has partnered with Department of Field Publicity to conduct special outreach programs in collaboration with the Song & Drama division in 80 cities, with SBM-focused themes and messages, to bring about an attitudinal change among citizens. This year, we will be conducting such events in nearly 1000 locations.  


Q.11. Are the municipalities and municipal corporations fully geared up for this challenging task, which will transform the lives of millions of families without this basic facility? Or will the programme be driven on partnership mode with an active association of public, private and community sector equally?



Yes. The municipal bodies are fully geared up and working towards the objective of achieving Open Defecation Free status. We must, however, make allowance for some variation in capacity and delivery.  ULBs have tied up with NGOs ,ULBs ,RWAs or other Private parties to implement the project in Mission mode.

At the city level, ULBs are engaging extensively with self-help groups at the slum level, utilizing their cooperative power to bring about collective behaviour change, by being change champions themselves (be it in terms of toilet usage and safe disposal, or effective waste management), motivating other slum residents to follow suit. To lend depth to this initiative, on 19th April 2016, an intensive community triggering drive around OD spots was held across all cities, where ULBs, along with self-help groups sensitized slum communities about the need for toilet usage and safe disposal.

Swachhagrahis have been selected from among SHG members / ASHA and Anganwadi workers, to undertake long-term behaviour change engagements with communities around identified OD spots, to make them ODF. In order to intensify this engagement, MOHUA has also drawn up a quarterly triggering calendar to keep up the motivation and impetus of this initiative, towards achieving Open Defecation Free status. A similar exercise was held on 22 July 2016, with help from NGO partners across the country. Till date, nearly 40,000 ‘swacchagrahis’ have been identified and working with the communities.

Parallelly, MoHUA has also been building the capacities of ULBs through various e-learning courses and exposure workshops, facilitating private sector participation in constructing sanitary infrastructure etc.


Q.12. Your recent announcement of internship for inducting urban professionals for assisting urban local bodies is innovative. How has been the impact?


Reply: Young India is bristling with ideas and they are enthusiastic and keen to participate and contribute to the country’s development. It is the Government which has to welcome these bright minds. We are pleased to see the enthusiastic response to fellowship and internship invitations.

We have received 3313 applications for 30 fellowship positions in Smart Cities (the deadline for submission was August 31, 2018).  The fellowship is being offered for 1-3 years to young graduates/postgraduates and PhDs in the fields of Urban Planning, Urban Design, Engineering, Information and Technology, Urban Mobility, Finance, Social Sector, and Environmental issues. The evaluation process is currently on.

For Internships, we have received 459 applications.  The internship program is open for 6-12 weeks to students pursuing undergraduate/post-graduate degrees in the same fields as those identified for Fellowships. The submission of requests for the internship can be done throughout the year.

This dimension of the human network will go a long way in Smart Cities development in India. These programs will prepare them for greater leadership roles in future and contribute towards India’s sustainable urban development.

Q13. The recent historic Urban Landscape Summit held in Lucknow on 27 / 28 July for Urban Transformation with distinguished participation of the Hon. Prime Minister and under your astute leadership, has generated a lot of enthusiasm from all states and Cities. What are your own impressions and impact thereof?



Our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi participated in the Transforming Urban Landscape event marking the third anniversary of the Smart Cities Mission and two other MoHUA initiatives Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation of Urban Transformation (AMRUT) in Lucknow on 27 & 28 July. The two-days’ Conference of all the stakeholders, showcased the achievements under its Missions, learning of one another’s experiences, reflected on the key challenges and to chart out the way ahead for the Missions.  Different sessions were organised, wherein live experiences, challenges and opportunities were shared by the participants.

Principal Secretaries (UD/Housing) and State Mission Directors of Urban Flagship Missions of State Governments, Mayors of 100 selected Smart Cities, Municipal Commissioners/CEOs of Smart City SPVs, representatives from Bilateral/Multilateral Institutions, Academia, Consulting organizations and other key stakeholders attended the Conference. India Smart City Awards were presented to cities for their exemplary performances, which created a lot of enthusiasm amongst the cities.

The Honourable Prime Minister expressed satisfaction on the progress of the missions and exhorted us to further accelerate the progress of the Missions. He also went around an exhibition put together by above-mentioned missions, on the successful projects which can be replicated in other cities. His interaction with the 35 women beneficiaries of affordable housing wherein almost every beneficiary got the opportunity to share her experience of owning a pucka house was heart-warming.  He also inaugurated 99 projects on the occasion. It was an inspiring moment for all of us present at the occasion who re-committed themselves to the cause of nation-building through sustainable urban development. I am confident that Urban India will increase its contribution to the country’s growth. In each of my Ministry’s missions, we are developing an entirely new ecosystem of urban development.




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