Indian cities have a key role in realising the country’s ambitious economic, developmental and environmental goals. However, given the serious legacy and emergent challenges they face, there is need for reflection on the development agendas they need to prioritise and pursue.


Discussions during the IIHS Urban Policy Dialogues (UPD) 2022 will explore Pathways towards Future-ready Indian Cities. The focus will be on five themes that will determine the preparedness of Indian cities to power rapid, equitable, and sustainable growth and development: next generation urban governance; improving municipal finances; synergising land governance and real estate regulation; accelerated urban infrastructure and service delivery; and, decarbonisation.


As before, UPD will bring together select participants from government, civil society, the enterprise sector, academia, and other spheres of practice and aim at frank exchanges on how cities can be reoriented to deliver on the rich possibilities they represent. All conversations will be governed by Chatham house rules.


UPD 2022 is the 8th edition of IIHS’ Urban Policy Dialogues. Participation is by invitation only.

  1. The Contours of Next Generation Urban Governance

India’s 75th year since Independence presents an opportunity for transformational governance reform. If Indian cities are to fulfill their role as engines of sustainable development, they need improved structures and processes of urban governance. The implementation of the 74th Constitutional Amendment has fallen short of expectations and not ensured genuine devolution in line with the subsidiarity principle. There have been significant gains, but meaningful empowerment in terms of the assignment of functions has proved elusive.


The proposed discussion will focus on what can be done to make the next generation of urban governance more representative, more responsive, and meaningfully empowered.


  1. Municipal Finances – The Way Forward

The state of municipal finances in India has been a long-standing concern. Pandemic-time experiences and an increasing appreciation of the potential cities hold, as sites of economic and social interaction and innovation and, therefore, as engines of sustainable development, has added urgency to this agenda.


The proposed discussion will focus on key strategies being contemplated to improve municipal finances, teasing out lessons from past efforts and debates, and identifying levers for future movement.


  1. Creating Synergies – Land Governance and Real Estate Regulation

Improved and transparent land information systems have the potential to impact municipal finance, inclusive development planning, real estate development, and overall economic growth. There have been noteworthy steps in this regard over the years at both the Union and State levels, especially in rural India. There are critical learnings from the rural experience that can be useful for improving tenure security and property records in urban and peri-urban areas. Yet, such synergies appear difficult to realise and successfully implement at scale. This also needs to be implemented to address the preference for prescribed standardised solutions and in a manner responding to local urban or peri-urban contexts.


The proposed discussion will focus on lessons from past efforts, and ways to improve coordinated action across land and property governance, especially in urban and peri-urban areas.


  1. Accelerating Urban WASH for SDG 6

Water and sanitation are key components of sustainable development, and SDG 6 lays out ambitious targets for achieving universal access and beyond. With several countries lagging on SDG 6, the 2023 UN Water Conference will comprehensively review progress on SDG 6 and agree on an agenda for achieving it.


Urban India reports notable progress on SDG 6, enabled through national missions, state programmes, and city specific initiatives. Yet, gaps remain, particularly in the face of climate change and a rapidly deepening national and global water crisis. This is an opportune time to deliberate on the way forward for urban India to meet SDG 6 and what priorities and big picture ideas India would like to see reflected on the global stage.


The proposed discussion will focus on key enablers for the progress urban India has registered on SDG 6; what remains to be done to achieve SDG 6; and, what lessons the Indian experience hold for other countries.


  1. Decarbonising Public Transport in India

Demographic shifts, changing aspirations, and mobility demands emerging out of economic activity have been key drivers of transport demand in urban India, which is often inefficient, carbon intensive and fossil-fuel dependent. In addition, climate extremes pose a serious risk to current transport infrastructure and economic activity.


Public transport systems powered by cleaner fuels or clean electricity have been recognised as an important element of a coupled decarbonisation-development strategy. However, implementing a rapid shift towards public transport, particularly bus-based systems, in Indian cities has been challenging.


The proposed discussion will focus on exploring key dimensions of a bus-oriented public transport system as a critical decarbonisation and development strategy.

The Contours of Next Generation Urban Governance

A Ravindra
Chairperson, Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD), Bengaluru


Dr A Ravindra is an Indian Administrative Service (retired) officer from the 1965 batch. He retired as the Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka in 2002 and was later advisor to the chief minister of the state on urban affairs. Currently, as Chairperson, CSD, his primary focus is on designing and developing methods and practices that enable sustainable development.


Dr Ravindra, during his tenure, as a civil servant, led the Karnataka urban development department and the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation, twice served as commissioner of the Bangalore City Corporation, and was chairperson of the Bangalore Development Authority. He has steered reforms in property tax, infrastructure development efforts, and the Kaveri water supply project.


Dr Ravindra holds a doctorate in urban studies and has several publications to his credit.




Keshav Varma 
Chairperson, High-Level Committee on Urban Planning, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India (GoI) | Chairperson, Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation


Keshav Varma is an Indian Administrative Service (retired) officer from the 1976 batch. Currently, he leads the High-Level Committee on Urban Planning set up by MoHUA and is Chairperson, Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation.


Keshav has had an extensive career with multiple roles across sectors. During his tenure as the Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner, a Special Purpose Vehicle was set up to establish a riverfront project along the Sabarmati. He also worked on reforming the rules for business licenses, land use, and transparency in city operations during his stint as Municipal Commissioner.


Later, he joined the World Bank as Sector Director of East Asia Urban Development and Disaster Management in 1997. He is also founding director of the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative and founding president of the International City Managers Association of India.


Keshav has taught on urban practice and transformational leadership at Harvard, MIT, Clemson, and Duke.



Surendrakumar Bagde
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India (GoI) 


Dr Surendrakumar Bagde is an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1993 batch, currently serving as Additional Secretary, MoHUA.


In his extensive career, Dr Bagde has been General Manager, Brihanmumbai Mumbai Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), worked on promoting domestic and foreign direct investment in various sectors in Maharashtra, and negotiated Government of Japan financing for a range of infrastructure projects at the Ministry of Finance. He was also instrumental in the formulation of state information technology and biotechnology policies during his stint with the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation.


Dr Bagde has a PhD in Applied Economics and Management from Carnegie Mellon University and various scholarly publications to his credit.



Tikender Panwar
Former Deputy Mayor, Shimla
Visiting Senior Fellow, Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI)


Tikender Panwar was elected deputy mayor of Shimla in 2012 and served in that capacity till 2017. He is presently a senior visiting fellow at IMPRI and an advisor to the Samruddha Bharat Foundation.


As deputy mayor, Tikender initiated work on a hazard vulnerability risk assessment, a resilience index, a comprehensive mobility plan, a city sanitation plan, and the Smart City project in Shimla.


Tikender has an interest in policy matters related to inclusive growth, social infrastructure, and making cities and citizens resilient. He is a guest faculty at several urban planning institutes and has extensively written on urban governance, environment and planning.

Municipal Finances – The Way Forward

Om Prakash Mathur
Senior Fellow, Global Cities Institute, University of Toronto


Prof Mathur has had a long and distinguished career in urban studies. Most recently (2014-19), he was Senior Fellow and Chair, Urban Studies, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi.


In the past, he has held the IDFC Chair in Urban Economics and Finance at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, served as Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs and Director, Planning Commission, and been part of the Prime Minister’s National Review Committee on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs’ High Powered Expert Committee on Estimating Investment Requirements for Urban Infrastructure.


In addition, Prof Mathur has served on several international advisory boards and national and state finance commissions within and outside India, worked in senior advisory positions in the UN system, and consulted for several multilateral and bilateral organisations.



Vikrant Gojamgunde
Former Mayor, Latur Municipal Corporation (LMC)


Vikrant Gojamgunde was the mayor of Latur over 2019-22 and is known for initiating interventions in the areas of public health, solid waste management, mobility, and municipal finance. Vikrant is particularly known for his work on swacchata, where his efforts in encouraging composting, building roads with plastic waste, and sanitary napkin incineration and manufacturing have earned him the title of Swacchata Doot.



Krishnamurthy Vijayan
Advisor and former CEO, Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Fund Management Corporation Ltd. (TNIFMC)


Krishnamurthy ‘Krish’ Vijayan was till recently founder CEO of the TNIFMC. An investment industry veteran with 35 years+ experience, he has held chief executive positions in the industry since 2000, heading JM Mutual Fund, JP Morgan AMC, and IDBI AMC. Krish has also served as Member of the AMFI Governing Board, the FICCI Capital Market Committee, and several other industry bodies. He is currently a director in Aptus, an affordable housing NBFC, and advisor to, among other institutions, a foundation working on a model SDG-complaint district.

Creating Synergies – Land Governance and Real Estate Regulation

Anthony de Sa
Ex-Chairperson, Madhya Pradesh Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA)


Anthony de Sa is an Indian Administrative Service (retired) officer from 1980 batch. As the first Chairperson of Madhya Pradesh (MP) RERA, he took the lead in setting up a transparent real estate regulatory system at state level. Prior to that, he was the Chief Secretary in the Government of Madhya Pradesh from 2013 to 2017.


He has been Housing Commissioner for the state of Madhya Pradesh. He has also served as Collector of Chhindwara District and Administrator of Jabalpur Municipal Corporation. In the Government of India, he has served as Director in the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Controller of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, where he dealt with, among other things, Foreign Trade Policy and WTO negotiations. He was also deputed to the United Nations for five years as Director of the UNIDO Centre for South-South Industrial Cooperation.


He is a gold medallist M.A. from Mumbai University, and also topped his Master’s in Public Administration degree course at Harvard.



Anjalee Tarapore
General Manager, Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd (HDFC)


Anjalee Tarapore works in the Management Services and Investor Relations department at HDFC Ltd and is the Business Responsibility Officer of the Corporation.


She has a keen interest in macro-economic analysis, housing finance, and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues from a corporate perspective. She has assisted high-level committees constituted by the Government of India on housing and infrastructure finance and has been HDFC’s nominee member at the Indo-US CEO Forum. Among institutions that have invited her as a speaker are the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, International Union for Housing Finance, UNDP, G-20 Sustainable Finance Roundtable, City of London, and Confederation of Indian Industry. Currently, she is a member of the CII National Council on Corporate Governance and its sub-group on ESG.



Harpal Dave
Assistant Town and Country Planner, Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO), Government of India


Harpal Dave is Assistant Town and Country Planner, TCPO, GoI, involved presently in a country wide pilot on the formulation of Local Area Plans and Town Planning Schemes for 25 cities.


At TCPO, Harpal is also facilitating the implementation of an online building permission system, preparation of model building byelaws, and promotion of transit-oriented development. The monitoring and review of national programmes and policies on urban development, assistance and hand-holding support to states, and promotion of good practices in urban development are other key subjects he handles at the TCPO.


Prior to TCPO, Harpal was with the Center for Research, Development and Consultancy, CEPT University, Ahmedabad.

Accelerating Urban WASH for SDG 6

D Thara
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India (GoI)


D Thara is an Indian Administrative Service officer from the 1995 batch. Before assuming responsibilities at MoHUA, where she holds charge of AMRUT 2.0 and the Central Vista project and oversees work on urban planning and ease of doing business, she worked in the cities of Ahmedabad, Kheda, Rajkot, Surendranagar, and Vadodara.


As Deputy Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad, Thara led work on the city’s Bus Rapid Transit System and other key JNNURM projects. In 2008, she also initiated the second revised draft development plan 2021 for the city as Chief Executive Authority of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA). During her tenure as CEO, AUDA and Municipal Commissioner, Ahmedabad, Ahmedabad was selected as a Smart city.



R K Srinivasan
Technical Advisor- WASH, USAID


R K Srinivasan manages the USAID/India Mission’s water and sanitation, private sector partnership, innovation and finance portfolio, which is focused on supporting inclusive development and regional connectivity. He has previously served as a water and sanitation specialist in various national and international non-governmental organizations.


Before joining USAID, Srinivasan was a technical advisor in Plan International and managed the water program at the Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi. He is the co-editor of Excreta Tales Excreta Matters – A profile of the water and sewage situation in 71 Indian cities and has published training manuals on urban water harvesting and wastewater management.



Amita Bhide
Professor and Dean, School of Habitat studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS)


Dr Bhide is the Dean, School of Habitat Studies, TISS. She has been deeply involved in issues related to urban poor communities, community organisation, housing rights movements, and advocacy groups.


Dr Bhide has extensively studied and researched urban local governance and planning, water and sanitation, housing, and land issues. Her writings discuss the politics of urban planning, slums, informal settlements, decentralised governance, and the larger urban policy framework in India. Her recent work at the School of Habitat Studies has been on issues of urban transformations and their link to inclusive and sustainable development.


Dr Bhide also heads the M East Ward Social and Economic Transformation Program, an action research project that seeks to create a model of inclusive urban development in the poorest municipal ward in Mumbai.

Decarbonising Public Transport in India

Indu K Murthy
Sector Head – Climate, Environment and Sustainability, Centre for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP)


Dr. Murthy is sector head in the Climate, Environment and Sustainability team at CSTEP. She is an expert with the UNFCCC Roster of Experts for India (for GHG Inventory), and a Steering Committee Member of the International Platform on Adaptation Metrics.


She is Associate Editor, Frontiers in Forests and Global Change and International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, and Academic Editor on the PLOS ONE Editorial Board. Dr Murthy is also on the Governing Board of the South Asia Consortium for Interdisciplinary Water Resources Studies (SaciWATERs) and is a Technical Advisory Committee Member of Mahila Abhivuddhi Society, Andhra Pradesh (APMAS).



Darshini Mahadevia
Professor and Associate Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, Ahmedabad University


Dr Mahadevia is a well-known scholar whose research focuses on equity concerns within urban policies relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation and human development. She received her doctoral degree in Urban and Regional Development from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Prior to joining Ahmedabad University, Dr Mahadevia coordinated the Centre for Urban Equity and was the Dean of the Faculty of Planning at CEPT University, Ahmedabad


Currently, she is looking at urban data systems, their mapping, and whether urban development dynamics are sustainable and equitable. At Ahmedabad University, she teaches a course on urban finance and is part of two interdisciplinary courses — one on the city of Ahmedabad and another on neighbourhoods.



Purnamita Dasgupta
Chair in Environmental Economics and Head, Environmental and Resource Economics Unit Institute of Economic Growth


Prof. Dasgupta’s research focusses on the relationship between environment and economic development. Her recent research includes modelling socio-economic scenarios for India’s National Communications and GHG emissions for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), choice experiments for transition to clean energy use, and economic evaluations of climate change impacts and adaptation.


She has been author/advisor to international research assessments such as the International Panel on Social Progress, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (including the Special Report on 1.5 degrees); the IPCC’s Scientific Steering Group on Economics, Costing and Ethics; Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.


She has been Visiting Professor at University of Cambridge, UK and Johns Hopkins University, USA

Summary Of Discussions


An annual flagship event of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), the UPD brings together select participants from diverse spheres of action to reflect on a bolder, more sustainable, and more equitable urban transformation agenda for India. The first edition of the UPD was held in 2014, as the second generation of the country’s flagship urban policies were being formulated.






Decarbonising Public Transport in India: An Issue Brief


Sustainable urban transportation systems are a key defining element of sustainable urbanisation. This calls for simultaneous pursuit of the agendas of decarbonisation, sustainable development, and resilient transport infrastructure. 







Indian Municipal Finance 2022: An Update


Urban India currently accounts for a third of the country’s population and nearly two thirds of its economic output (IIHS, 2015; IIHS, 2017; Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India (GoI, 2020). By 2030, its share of India’s population and economic output is projected to be as high as 40 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively (MoHFW, GoI, 2020; Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), GoI, 2015). 






Real Estate Regulation in India: Select State Profiles


India’s Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (hereinafter, RERA Act or the Act) was brought in to promote and better regulate the country’s real estate sector. It aimed at bringing transparency and efficiency in the sale of apartments or plots, protecting the interest of real estate consumers, and establishing an adjudicating mechanism for speedy dispute redressal. The Act was widely hailed for attempting to regulate a large and largely unregulated sector where consumer investments were substantial and grievances were high.