The Independent India has been urbanizing very fast. At the end of 20th century the pattern of urbanization in India has been a spatially and structurally unbalanced one. It has been felt from the beginning of the planning era to achieve a coordinated and regulated urbanization pattern in India commensurate with the balanced regional development. The process of urbanization has been closely linked with the process and pattern of economic development in the country. Although the process of urbanization in India could not be explained fully by the process of economic development, it is positively linked with the latter.
  The problems of urban development in the so-called backward areas are very menacing and the elaboration of their analysis is very engrossing. The problem which engages our attention is one repairing both action and study. The cities of India and other nations in the Far East are growing explosively at a time when most of these nations are profoundly committed to rapid economic development. In many such cities, the physical problems of housing, transportation and sanitation will increase to the point of breakdown unless action is taken. But the cost of new construction and engineering works on the scale suggested by the magnitude of the problem is prohibitive for nations whose investment funds are small in relation to their need. Stop-gap and emergency programs are, therefore, constantly sought. In the very long run, it is to be hoped that these nations will be able to solve their problems of urbanization out of greatly increased per capita income, but this prospect is very distant. For some considerable time to come, therefore, the analysis of urban problems in the context of economic development, and with a view to action, will have to be directed toward finding more economic solutions to urban problems, toward preventing collapse, and toward greatly improving conditions with strictly limited resources. In order to achieve this objective, planners and policy makers need a much sharper set of tools for analysing the national and regional redistribution of population and the internal anatomy of cities. Thus , there is a requirement for a policy with respect to urbanization.
The Government of India has formulated the National Urban Sanitation PolicyNational Urban Transport Policy and National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy in view of rapidly increasing urban population. The Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission launched in December 2005 and the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat approved recently also provide an over arching policy framework to address issues relating to sustainable urban development.

The National Urban Sanitation Policy seeks to create fully sanitized Cities through awareness generation, State Sanitation Strategies and Integrated City Sanitation Plans. The National Urban Transport Policy seeks to promote safe, affordable and sustainable transportation through integrated land use and transport planning, multimodal public transport, equitable allocation of road space and promotion of clean technologies. The National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy seeks to promote sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensure equitable supply of land, shelter and services at affordable prices to all sections of society. The National Mission on Sustainable Habitat seeks to promote sustainability of habitats through improvements in energy efficiency in buildings, urban planning, improved management of solid and liquid waste including recycling and power generation, modal shift towards public transport and conservation. The policy initiatives under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission include reforms related to governance, financial sustainability, land and property management, responsiveness to citizens, transparency and inclusive development. 

The Indian political economy is yet to have its unique national urban policy even after 60 years of its existence. This is one fine example of decentralised working but such a mechanism has not proved to be effective. Many recommendations from the planning commission demand the need to have a top down approach. But the fact that many state economies are functioning without a national policy gives certain prominence to decentralised working. Therefore, in a federal system, it is important to have complimentary national and regional policies.
The national urban policy proposes to address problems relating to urban infrastructure deficiencies by giving special emphasis to the housing sector, water supply and sanitation, municipal solid waste management and urban transport. It also proposes to reduce urban poverty by increasing investment in poverty alleviation programmes, development of employment generation strategy and by trying to integrate poor communities into city planning by improving access to services and land rights. 
The vision for Urban Sanitation in India is:
All Indian cities and towns become totally sanitized, healthy and liveable and ensure and sustain good public health and environmental outcomes for all their citizens with a special focus on hygienic and affordable sanitation facilities for the urban poor and women.
In order to achieve the above Vision, following key policy issues must be addressed:
·         Poor Awareness: Sanitation has been accorded low priority and there is poor awareness about its inherent linkages with public health.
·         Social and Occupational aspects of Sanitation: Despite the appropriate legal framework, progress towards the elimination of manual scavenging has shown limited success, Little or no attention has been paid towards the occupational hazard faced by sanitation workers daily.
·         Fragmented Institutional Roles and Responsibilities: There are considerable gaps and overlaps in institutional roles and responsibilities at the national, state, and city levels.
·         Lack of an Integrated City-wide Approach: Sanitation investments are currently planned in a piece-meal manner and do not take into account the full cycle of safe confinement, treatment and safe disposal.
·         Limited Technology Choices: Technologies have been focussed on limited options that have not been cost-effective, and sustainability of investments has been in question.
·         Reaching the Un-served and Poor: Urban poor communities as well other residents of informal settlements have been constrained by lack of tenure, space or economic constraints, in obtaining affordable access to safe sanitation.
·         Lack of Demand Responsiveness: Sanitation has been provided by public agencies in a supply-driven manner, with little regard for demands and preferences of households as customers of sanitation services.
The overall goal of this policy is to transform Urban India into community-driven, totally
sanitized, healthy and liveable cities and towns. 
The specific goals are:
·         Awareness Generation and Behaviour Change
·         Open Defecation Free Cities 
·         Integrated City-Wide Sanitation
Govt. of India shall support the following components:
·         Awareness Generation
·         Institutional Roles
·         Reaching The Un-Served And Poor Households
·         Knowledge Development
·         Capacity Building
·         Financing
·         National Monitoring & Evaluation
·         Coordination at the National Level
The National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy aims at:
·         Urban Planning
·         Affordable Housing
·         Increase flow of Funds
·         Spatial Incentives
·         Increase Supply of Land
·         Special Provision for SC/ST/OBC/Minorities/Disabled
·         Special Provision for Women
·         Employment Generation
·         Public-Private Partnerships
·         Management Information System
·         Healthy Environment
·         Specific Areas of Action
·         Land
·         Finance
·         Legal and Regulatory Reforms
·         Technology support and its transfer
·         Infrastructure
·         Sustainability Concerns
·         Employment issues relating to the Housing Sector
·         Slum improvement and upgradation
The ultimate goal of this Policy is to ensure sustainable development of all urban human settlements, duly serviced by basic civic amenities for ensuring better quality of life for all urban citizens.
  •  Focus of the Policy is on Affordable Urban Housing for All with special emphasis on the urban poor. 
  • Role of Housing and provision of basic services to the urban poor has been integrated into the objectives of the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM)
  •  Special emphasis has been laid on Scheduled Castes/ Tribes / Background Classes / Minorities, empowerment of Women within the ambit of the urban poor.
  • The Policy focuses on a symbiotic development of rural and urban areas in line with the objectives of the 74th Constitution Amendment Act.
  • Within the overarching goal of Affordable Housing for All emphasis has been laid on urban planning, increased supply of land, use of spatial incentives like additional Floor Area Ratio (FAR), Transferable Development Rights, increased flow of funds, healthy environment, effective solid waste management and use of renewal sources of energy.
  • Encouraging Integrated townships and Special Exconomic Zones 10-15% of land in every new public/private housing projects or 20-25% FAR, whichever is greater to be  reserved for EWS/LIG Housing through appropriate spatial incentives.
  • Private Sector to be permitted land assembly within the purview of Master Plans.
  • Action Plans for urban slum dwellers and special package for cooperative housing, labour housing and employees housing is to be prepared.
  • States to be advised to develop 10 years perspective plan for housing of EWS/LIG.
  • Policy gives primacy to provision of shelter to urban poor at their present locationor near their work place.
  • Approach will be in-situ slum rehabilitation. Relocation will be considered only in specific cases.
  • Micro finance institutions to be promoted at state level to expedite flow of finances to urban poor.
  • Model municipal laws to be prepared by the Central Government.
  • Detailed city maps to be prepared based on GIS, aerial survey and ground verfication.
  • Use of proven cost effective technology and building materials to be encouraged.
  • Development of mass rapid transit system at sub-regional level envisaged.
  • Green cover for cities to be encouraged for balanced ecological development.
  • All States to be encouraged to develop a “Habitat Infrastructure Action Plan” for all cities with a population of over one lakh.
• To recognize that people occupy center-stage in our cities and all plans would be
for their common benefit and well being
• To make our cities the most livable in the world and enable them to become the
“engines of economic growth” that power India’s development in the 21st century
• To allow our cities to evolve into an urban form that is best suited for the unique
geography of their locations and is best placed to support the main social and
economic activities that take place in the city.
The objective of this policy is to ensure safe, affordable, quick, comfortable, reliable
and sustainable access for the growing number of city residents to jobs, education, recreation
and such other needs within our cities.
·         Integrating land use and transport planning
·         Equitable allocation of road space
·         Priority to the use of public transport
·         Quality and pricing of Public Transport
·         Technologies for Public Transport
·         Integrated public transport systems
·         Financing
·         Role of para-transit
·         Priority to non-motorized Transport
·         Parking
·         Freight traffic
·         Legal and Administrative Issues
·         Capacity building
·         Use of cleaner technologies
·         Innovative financing mechanisms using land as a resource
·         Association of the private sector
To encourage application of the National Urban Transport Policy and achieve a paradigm shift in India’s urban transport systems in favour of sustainable development, the GOI has applied to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to implement GEF’s Sustainable Urban Transport Project (SUTP) in India. The objectives of the SUTP are:
o   to strengthen capacity of GoI, and participating states and cities in planning, financing, operating and managing sustainable urban transport systems; and
o   to assist states and cities in preparing and implementing demonstration “Green Transport” or “GEF-supportable Transport” projects (GT projects).
The project has two components:
• Component 1: National Urban Transport Capacity Development, and,
• Component 2: GEF Demonstration Projects
Sub-projects proposed for GEF-SUTP 
The sub-projects proposed in the various cities are:
• Pedestrian / NMT Infrastructure Development 
o   Reconstruction of footpaths
o   Provision of Sub-ways / FoBs
o   Pedestrian Prioritization measures through traffic signals, pelican lights, road marking etc.
o   Construction of new footpaths
o   Paving and Delineation of areas as pedestrian friendly precincts
o   Peripheral Vehicular Parking
o   Construction of cycle lanes
o   Street Furniture, Lighting & Bollards
• Feeder Services
o   Procurement of low emission vehicles
o   Bus-stops, signage etc.,
• Public Transport Infrastructure
o   Dedicated Bus-lanes
o   Terminals/Depots/Commuter Amenity Centers
o   Procurement of Bus Fleet
o   Traffic Signal Prioritization
• ITS Application to Public Transport
o   Traffic Signal Improvements
o   Automatic Fare Collection
o   Public Information System-Plasma Screens, Display boards at bus stops etc
o   Control Rooms
• Others
o   Retrofitting of Bus Fleet
o   Minor Road improvements
o   Junction/Rotary Improvements
o   Rail Under Bridges 
  •  The widening gap between demand and supply of infrastructural services badly hitting the poor, whose access to the basic services like drinking water, sanitation, education and basic health services was shrinking
  • Unabated growth of urban population aggravating the accumulated backlog of housing shortages, resulting in proliferation of slums and squatter settlement and decay of city environment
  •  High incidence of marginal employment and urban poverty as reflected in NSS 43rd round that indicated that 41.8 million urban people lived below the poverty line
The preparation of Regional Plans for the main conurbations in the country was incorporated in policies NPP2, NPP9, NPP10 and NPP11. NPP2 emphasizes on the planning of economic activities of urban areas based on the concept of “Selective Concentration” for strategic urban centres. NPP9 emphasizes on the concentration of urban growth in the conurbations. NPP10 supports the growth of the 4 main conurbations of Kuala Lumpur , George Town , Kuantan and Johor Bahru. Lastly, NPP11, emphasizes on the need for the conurbations to be planned and developed as an integrated region through the preparation of Regional Plans.
The National Urbanization Policy (NUP) outlines various NUP Thrusts to coordinate and guide the planning and development of urban areas. In relation to Regional Planning, the proposed formation of the Regional Planning Committee and the preparation of Regional Plans for the main conurbations will form the basis for the implementation of the NUP, as affirmed in the NUP Thrusts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. Briefly, Thrust 1 emphasizes the achievement of an efficient and sustainable urban development where policy NUP3 states that the development of towns or cities shall be based on development plans, which includes regional plans. Thrust 2 promotes the development of an urban economy that is resilient, dynamic and competitive through the implementation of the urban economic cluster concept. Whilst Thrust 3 emphasizes on the need for an integrated and efficient urban transportation system, Thrust 4 concerns the provision of quality urban services, infrastructure and utility. All these will be realized through planning and monitoring activities carried out by the Regional Planning Committee. Lastly, the formation of the Regional Planning Committee acts as an effective channel for the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in implementing the policies and steps to be taken in achieving the objectives of Thrust 6 which relates to effective urban governance.
A comprehensive urban policy in India needs to aim at the revitalization of civic bodies, reform of Municipal Administration, strengthening of the IDSMT program by making it an investment oriented on the local economy, effective implementation of employment generation program such as NRY (1989), slum improvement program including EIUS and UBSP, etc. These programs have to be operationalize in all states.
The provisions of the 74th Constitution Amendments Act should be implemented by the civic bodies in true spirit. The urban policies could directly contribute to achieve the goals of poverty alleviation and removal of unemployment and under-employment. The urban informal sector caters to the largest share of the labor force. This sector needs to be upgraded and integrated with the urban economy.
One significant fact is that the Mega cities have been growing very slowly but cater to the sizeable portion of urban population. Their age-old urban infrastructure needs to be upgraded for a healthy living. The population census of 2001, has recorded 35 metropolitan cities out of which five metropolises have brought under Mega City Project and Delhi has been treated in the framework of National Capital Region. These Mega cities are to be declared as National Cities and deserve top priority in urban planning. The remaining 29 metro cities have to absorb the increased urban population growth. The urbanization plan has to be an integral part of regional development plans as in Maharashtra State. They are the regional capitals. Urban development could be sustained only with Regional Development.
A sound urbanization policy should aim at a spatially and structurally balanced urban system having symbiotic relation with the rural settlements. There should be a cohesive rural-urban relation within the frame of rural-urban continuum and reduced rural-urban dichotomy in the human settlement system.
1.      The poverty and social isolation of minority groups in central cities is the single most serious problem of the many cities today. It must be attacked with urgency, with a greater commitment of resources than has heretofore been the case, and with programs designed especially for this purpose.
2.      Economic and social forces in urban areas are not self-balancing. Imbalances in industry, transportation, housing, social services, and similar elements of urban life frequently tend to become more rather than less pronounced, and this tendency is often abetted by public policies. A concept of urban balance may be tentatively set forth: a social condition in which forces tending to produce imbalance induce counter forces that simultaneously admit change while maintaining equilibrium. It must be the constant object of federal officials whose programs affect urban areas--and there are few whose do not--to seek such equilibrium.
3.      At least part of the relative ineffectiveness of the efforts of urban government to respond to urban problems derives from the fragmented and obsolescent structure of urban government itself. The federal government should constantly encourage and provide incentives for the reorganization of local government in response to the reality of metropolitan conditions. The objective of the federal government should be that local government be stronger and more effective, more visible, accessible, and meaningful to local inhabitants. To this end the federal government should discourage the creation of paragovernments designed to deal with special problems by evading or avoiding the jurisdiction of established local authorities, and should encourage effective decentralization.
4.      A primary object of federal urban policy must be to restore the fiscal vitality of urban government, with the particular object of ensuring that local governments normally have enough resources on hand or available to make local initiative in public affairs a reality.
5.      Federal urban policy should seek to equalize the provision of public services as among different jurisdictions in metropolitan areas.
6.      The federal government must assert a specific interest in the movement of people, displaced by technology or driven by poverty, from rural to urban areas, and also in the movement from densely populated central cities to suburban areas.
7.      State government has an indispensible role in the management of urban affairs, and must be supported and encouraged by the federal government in the performance of this role.
8.      The federal government must develop and put into practice far more effective incentive systems than now exist whereby state and local governments, and private interests too, can be led to achieve the goals of federal programs.
9.      The federal government must provide more and better information concerning urban affairs, and should sponsor extensive and sustained research into urban problems.
10.  The federal government, by its own example, and by incentives, should seek the development of a far heightened sense of the resources of the natural environment, and the fundamental importance of aesthetics in successful urban growth.