Tenth CSE Media Fellowships: JNNURM and Indian cities: misguided mission or reform blueprint?

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was launched in December 2005 to improve the quality of life in Indian cities. The seven year scheme had a whopping Rs 100,000 crore in its kitty to develop infrastructure and services – water supply, sanitation and sewerage, urban transport and integrated slum development – in 63 cities. The idea was to provide incentives to state governments and city administrations to carry out urban reforms.

But has the scheme really benefited cities? What is the current status of implementation of the projects proposed under JNNURM? Have there really been any long- or short-term reforms in the way India’s cities are growing? The Planning Commission's half-term review of the scheme is due this year. What is the review most likely to find?

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) announced its Tenth Media Fellowship titled "JNNURM and Indian Cities : A Misguided Mission or Reform Blueprint?" to study, investigate and report on JNNURM in our cities – with respect to two key components: transport and water supply, sanitation and sewerage.

Selection procedure
Applications accompanied by their resumes, samples of work and letter of support from their editors were received from across the country. A total of 45 applications were received out of which 32 were shortlisted for final selection.

A jury comprising of urban planning experts and senior media professionals was constituted to select the fellows. The jury members were

    * Mr S K Lohia: Joint Secratary Urban Transport Division, MoUD
    * Mr Chetan Vaidya: Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs
    * Mr Pratap Somvanshi: Resident Editor of Hindustan at Delhi
    * Ravish Kumar: Senior Anchor NDTV India
    * Vipul Mudgal: Senior Editor
    * Sunita Narain: Director, CSE
    * Anumita RoyChowdhury: Associate Director, CSE

The parameters for assessing the candidates included originality of ideas; grasp of issues covered; relevance of the issues covered; range of the issues covered; analytical skills; writing skills; and initiative. The jury was requested to finalise the selection of journalists for the fellowship, enrich proposed story ideas with fresh perspectives and suggest ways to make future fellowships more challenging and meaningful.

The jury selected the 11 most promising candidates for awarding the fellowship grant. The fellows were given from July 25, 2010 to September 25, 2010 for working on their subjects. We present to you the fellows and their proposals.