An overview of the AMRUT scheme

An overview of the AMRUT scheme


India’s urban population is rapidly growing, with current estimates suggesting that around 36% of the population resides in cities. By 2047, this figure is expected to surpass 50%. This urban expansion necessitates significant investment in urban infrastructure, with the World Bank estimating that around $840 billion will be required over the next 15 years.

  • To address these challenges, the Government of India launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) in June 2015, followed by AMRUT 2.0 on October 1, 2021.
  • These flagship programs aim to improve urban infrastructure, particularly in water supply, sewage management, and pollution control.

GS-02 (Government policies and interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • About the AMRUT Scheme
  • Implementation and Utilization of Funds
  • Implications and Challenges
  • What Went Wrong?

About the AMRUT Scheme

  • The AMRUT scheme was introduced to address several key challenges in urban infrastructure development. The main objectives of the mission are:
  • Water Supply: Ensuring that every household has access to a tap with an assured supply of water.
  • Sewage Management: Providing sewerage connections to all households and enhancing sewage treatment capacity.
  • Urban Greenery and Open Spaces: Developing parks and green spaces to improve the quality of urban life.
  • Pollution Reduction: Promoting public transport and non-motorized transport to reduce urban pollution.
  • The initial phase of AMRUT (2015-2020) had a budget outlay of ₹50,000 crore, covering 500 cities and towns with populations over one lakh. AMRUT 2.0, launched in 2021, aims to make cities water-secure and provide functional water tap connections to all households in statutory towns. The budget for AMRUT 2.0 is ₹2,99,000 crore, with a central outlay of ₹76,760 crore over five years.

Implementation and Utilization of Funds

  • As of May 19, 2024, the AMRUT dashboard indicates that ₹83,357 crore has been disbursed. These funds have facilitated the provision of 58,66,237 tap connections and 37,49,467 sewerage connections.
  • Additionally, 2,411 parks have been developed, and 62,78,571 LED lights have been installed. These achievements reflect the combined efforts of the central government, states, and cities.

Implications and Challenges

Despite these achievements, significant challenges remain. The reality on the ground reveals persistent issues in water, sanitation, and air quality:

  • Water and Sanitation: Inadequate water supply and poor sanitation continue to affect public health, with an estimated 200,000 deaths annually due to these deficiencies. Many urban households lack piped water and sewerage connections, and the average per capita water supply in urban India is far below the required level.
  • Water Security: Many of India’s major cities are facing severe water shortages, with reservoirs operating at reduced capacities and groundwater levels depleting rapidly. By 2030, it is projected that 40% of India’s population will lack access to drinking water.
  • Pollution: Air quality in many AMRUT cities has not improved significantly, despite efforts to promote public transport and reduce emissions. The National Clean Air Programme, launched in 2019, highlights the ongoing challenges in addressing urban air pollution.

What Went Wrong?

Several factors have hindered the effective implementation of the AMRUT scheme:

  • Project-Oriented Approach: The scheme has been criticized for its project-oriented nature, which lacks a holistic vision for urban development. This approach has resulted in fragmented efforts rather than integrated urban planning.
  • Lack of Local Participation: The scheme’s design and implementation have largely excluded local elected representatives, contrary to the spirit of the 74th Constitutional Amendment, which emphasizes decentralized urban governance. Decision-making has been dominated by bureaucrats, consultants, and private companies, with little input from local communities.
  • Inadequate Consideration of Local Context: Water management strategies have not adequately factored in local climate, rainfall patterns, and existing infrastructure. This has led to inefficiencies in sewage treatment and urban planning, often driven by real estate interests rather than sustainable development principles.

Suggested Measures

  • Holistic Urban Planning: Adopting a comprehensive, integrated approach to urban planning that addresses water supply, sewage management, and pollution control in a coordinated manner. This should include nature-based solutions and sustainable infrastructure development.
  • Empowering Local Bodies: Strengthening the role of local elected representatives in the planning and implementation of urban projects. This involves adhering to the principles of the 74th Constitutional Amendment and ensuring that local governments have the authority and resources to manage urban development.
  • Community Participation: Encouraging active participation of local communities in the decision-making process. This can be achieved through public consultations, participatory planning processes, and greater transparency in project implementation.
  • Climate-Responsive Strategies: Developing water management and urban planning strategies that are responsive to local climate conditions and environmental challenges. This includes preserving water bodies, improving stormwater management, and enhancing resilience to climate change.
  • Leveraging Technology: Utilizing advanced technologies for efficient water management, sewage treatment, and pollution monitoring. This can involve smart city solutions, real-time data analytics, and innovative infrastructure designs.
  • Capacity Building: Building the capacity of local governments and urban planners through training programs, technical assistance, and knowledge-sharing platforms. This will enhance their ability to manage urban infrastructure projects effectively.
  • Sustainable Financing: Exploring innovative financing mechanisms to mobilize additional resources for urban infrastructure development. This can include public-private partnerships, municipal bonds, and international funding opportunities.
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: Establishing robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track the progress and impact of urban infrastructure projects. This will ensure accountability, transparency, and continuous improvement in project implementation.