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Survey stress on public transport in urban areas

Our Bureau

New Delhi , July 7

WITH one-third of India living in cities, the Economic Survey has called for greater emphasis on urban infrastructure, especially public transport.

According to the Survey, an efficient public transport system not only improves the energy efficiency of the economy, it also maximises urban-rural linkages for better labour supply.

"Rural areas surrounding cities tend to indirectly derive significant income from the prosperity of the city, through sale of high-value crops, through small and medium enterprises and through labour supply. Urban centres provide income diversification, as rural families often have some members working in urban centres," it points out.

The Survey lists Delhi Metro and the proposed Integrated Rail-cum-Bus Transit (IRBT) system for the National Capital Region as important urban infrastructure initiatives.

It says the foundation of urban infrastructure, whether it is drinking water, sanitation, sewage system, electricity and gas distribution or public transport, has to be on user charges.

Urban institutions can access resources from capital markets to finance a large portion of urban capital expenditure, which would be serviced by user charges in the future.

"This approach makes it possible to have a massive increase in capital expenditure without worsening the fiscal problem," the Survey says.

Another source of funds for urban infrastructure projects is municipal bonds, though the route has not been used by municipal corporations on a widespread basis, it says, adding that just Rs 200 crore was raised by four municipal bodies in 2003-04.

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