Arun Jaitley’s Budget 2018: What does it say for urban India?

A recap of the proposals and announcements in the Union Budget 2018, which could potentially impact our cities and life in them.

“Urbanisation is our opportunity and priority,” said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his speech in Parliament, as he presented the Union Budget 2018, presumably the current government’s last big one before the nation goes for elections in 2019.

Cities, per se, however did not see too much exclusive focus except in a few allusions to big-ticket schemes introduced by the current dispensation and a couple of city-specific allocations.

Here is a quick round-up of what Budget 2018 had to say about the plans for India’s urban future:

Air pollution in Delhi and NCR

Concern for the alarming levels of pollution in the National Capital Region and the root causes for the same had already been flagged in the Economic Survey, customarily released a couple of days ahead of the budget. In his budget speech, Jaitley referred to a special scheme that would be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution. Under the scheme, machinery required for in-situ management of crop residue would also be subsidised.

Urban schemes

Under the Prime Minister Awas Yojana, launched in both rural and urban areas to meet the objective of housing for all by 2022, assistance has been sanctioned to construct 37 lakh houses in urban areas in 2018-19.

Towards the greater mission of universal housing, a dedicated Affordable Housing Fund (AHF) would be earmarked in the National Housing Bank, funded from priority sector lending shortfall and fully serviced bonds authorized by the Government of India. This has predictably pumped up real estate stocks.

The Minister referred to 99 cities that have been selected with an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore under the Smart Cities Mission, under which projects like Smart Command and Control Centre, Smart Roads, Solar Rooftops, Intelligent Transport Systems, Smart Parks are in various stages of completion. Projects worth Rs 2350 crore have been completed and works of Rs 20,852 crore are under progress.

Under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), state level plans of Rs 77,640 crore for 500 cities have been approved.

Water supply contracts for 494 projects worth Rs 19,428 crore and sewerage work contract for 272 projects costing Rs 12,429 crore have been awarded.

Credit rating for cities

The Economic Survey had already referred to the challenge of raising resources of the magnitude required to meet India’s urbanisation imperative, especially given its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, #11 of which is to make “cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” To that end the Survey had suggested that Urban Local Bodies generate resources through financial instruments such as municipal bonds, PPPs and credit risk guarantees.

In his budget speech, the Finance Minister stated that 482 cities have started credit rating, and  144 cities have got investment grade rating.

The Mumbai-Bengaluru bonanza

The thriving metro cities of Mumbai and Bengaluru saw specific proposed allocations for mobility network.

Mumbai’s local rail network is being expanded and augmented to add 90 kilometers of double line tracks at a cost of over Rs 11,000 crore. 150 kilometres of additional suburban network is being planned at a cost of over Rs 40,000 crore, including elevated corridors on some sections.

A suburban rail network of approximately 160 kilometres at an estimated cost of Rs 17,000 crore is being planned for Bengaluru.

India’s first high speed rail project launched in September 2017, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project, will also be benefited as an Institute is coming up at Vadodara that will train personnel to serve high speed rail projects.

Will urban planning get a boost?

Referring to higher education and augmentation of investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions, Jaitley said that the government would be setting up two new full-fledged Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPA), to be selected on challenge mode. Additionally, 18 new SPAs would be established in the IITs and NITs as autonomous Schools, also on challenge mode.

Other potential impact areas

In addition to the above direct proposals for urban regions, Jaitley’s budget outlined several other schemes and proposals that could have a bearing on the life of urban citizens, across all sections of society.

Health: Take, for example, the budget’s biggest announcement, the National Health Protection Scheme under the ‘‘Ayushman Bharat’’ programme. In what could be the world’s largest government funded health care programme, covering over 10 crore poor and vulnerable families (approximately 50 crore beneficiaries), the government has committed to providing coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalization. If implemented well, this could have significant implications for the health of the urban poor.

Air travel: The regional connectivity scheme of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) plans to connect 56 unserved airports and 31 unserved helipads across the country. The government proposes to expand airport capacity across India by more than five times, to handle a billion trips annually year under a new initiative – NABH Nirman.

Rail travel: The Budget emphasises a ‘Safety First’ policy, with allocation of adequate funds under Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh. All stations with more than 25000 footfalls will have escalators.  All railway stations and trains will be progressively provided with wi-fi. CCTVs will be provided at all stations and on trains to enhance security of passengers.

In the final analysis, however, it is perhaps prudent to remember that the Budget is, after all, just a statement of accounts of the government. Proposals, schemes and plans are only as good as their final implementation on the ground, quantum of allocations notwithstanding.


  1. p.v.Chowdary says:

    After researching for 17 years, I developed “improved elastic rail fastening assembly” suitable for Indian Railways. It solves more than 30 problems of rail track of Indian Railways. With this invention, Permanent Way of Indian Railways spanning > 1.16 lac track kilometers transforms to one of the MOST advanced in the world .
    Some advantages of invention:-
    1. Instances and occurrences of ‘rail fractures’ and ‘rail weld fractures’ reduce;
    2. Fatigue of rail reduces and therefore service life of rail increases and ‘life cycle cost’ of rail reduces;
    3. Liner-bite caused crevice corrosion of rail foot reduces;
    4. Rate of track geometry deterioration reduces.
    I humbly dedicate my invention to our beloved Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. His passion to #transformindianrailways inspired me to achieve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Similar Story

Cost concerns limit impact of PM Ujjwala Yojana among poor in cities

Women in low income urban communities share why they haven't been able to switch to clean cooking fuel, despite the hype around Ujjwala.

Chanda Pravin Katkari, who lives in Panvel on the outskirts of Mumbai, applied for a free LPG connection under the PM Ujjwala Yojana one-and-half years ago, but has yet to get a response. She still uses the traditional chulha, most of the time. Chanda and her sister-in-law share the cost and occasionally use their mother-in-law’s Ujjwala LPG cylinder though. “The cylinder lasts only one-and-half months if the three of us, living in separate households, use it regularly. Since we can’t afford this, we use it sparingly so that it lasts us about three months,” she says. Chanda’s experience outlines the…

Similar Story

Bengalureans’ tax outlay: Discover the amount you contribute

Busting the myth of the oft repeated notion that "only 3% of Indians are paying tax". The actual tax outlay is 60% - 70%.

As per a recent report, it was estimated that in 2021-22, only 3% of the population of India pays up to 10 lakh in taxes, alluding that the rest are dependent on this. This begs the following questions: Are you employed? Do you have a regular source of income? Do you pay income tax? Do you purchase provisions, clothing, household goods, eyewear, footwear, fashion accessories, vehicles, furniture, or services such as haircuts, or pay rent and EMIs? If you do any of the above, do you notice the GST charges on your purchases, along with other taxes like tolls, fuel…