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

March - May, 2010

This fellowship was supported by Jamsetji Tata Trust

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

    * S K Lohia, Joint Secretary, Urban Transport Division, MoUD
    * Chetan Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs
    * Pratap Somvanshi, Resident Editor, Hindustan 
    * Ravish Kumar, Senior Anchor, NDTV India
    * Vipul Mudgal, Senior Journalist
    * Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE 
    * Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director-Research and Advocacy, 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.

The reports and articles published by our fellows are available as an exposé of the ground reality of the plans.


Anil Kumar Dwivedi ‘Ankur’
Principal Correspondent 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Anil has proposed to report on the sanitation situations of Lucknow and Kanpur along with the deteriorating state of drinking water in these cities. Apart from that, he wanted to have a broad report on status of JNNURM. The jury also came up with some interesting ideas which would bring to light the difference in the sanitation ratings of Kanpur and Lucknow. The jury also put in a proposal for a short report on Varanasi, the oldest inhabited city in the world.

See the articles



Biswajeet Banerjee
Bureau Chief
The Pioneer


Biswajeet wants to do a detailed series of reports on the implementation of JNNURM in Kanpur and Lucknow in terms of water supply, sanitation and sewerage. The jury wanted him also to consider the variability in the sanitation ratings in the two cities.

See the articles



Biswendu Bhattacharjee
Contributor and freelance journalist
Far East Focus
Agartala, Tripura

Biswendu put forth to write on  the various stages of JNNURM activities and projects in Agartala, their implementation etc. Some interesting story ideas such as a critique of the mobility plan, an overview on formal transport vs informal transport, a report on the urban poor and a broader picture on the state of water and sewage in the city was proposed by the jury.

See the articles



Ketan Trivedi
Senior Reporter
Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Ketan wants to write on the BRTS in Ahmedabad and Surat’s management of habitats for urban poor. The marketing strategy for the Ahmedabad BRTS was suggested as a new angle for his reports.

See the articles



Kumar Manish
Senior Correspondent
The Times of India
Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Manish wants to write a series of reports on the BRTS in Ahmedabad. The Jury also suggested to include to study Surat report on key urban concerns and issues emerging in that city.

See the articles



Radheshyam Jadhav
Principal Correspondent 
The Times of India

Radheshyam is interested in taking up the issue of transport, water and sewerage in four JNNURM cities of Maharashtra, namely Greater Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and Nanded.  The jury also suggested a report bringing the mosaic picture of the human interest and off-the-beaten-track stories such as the changing traffic culture of these cities in Maharashtra, and what impacts the coming of migrant populations or communities may be having on this culture. A report on BRTS and public transport was also welcomed by the jury.

See the articles



G T Satish Shile
Senior Reporter
The Deccan Herald

Sathish wants to inspect the credibility of the claims made under JNNURM in Bangalore, especially in the areas of water and wastewater management. A few interesting ideas which came up were : Bangalore’s profitable bus system, what's the secret?, congestion on the roads, the reasons and the proposed solutions, the fight for metro and the underlying reasons.

See the articles



Shibu B S
The New Indian Express
Kochi, Kerala

Shibu wants to highlight the state of implementation of JNNURM programmes in Kochi. Besides which  the Jury proposed an investigation and report on the bus vs Metro debate. A study and report on the surface water transport systems in Kochi and  a report on the management of Kochi’s bus system were amongst the other suggestions.

See the articles



Urvashi Dev Rawal
Bureau Chief
The Hindustan Times
Jaipur Rajasthan

Urvashi wants to focus on Jaipur and Ajmer and report on the concerns and issues related to water in these cities. Along side were some other proposals from the jury which encouraged her to look at the transport management in Jaipur, the condition of the old buses vis-a vie the new comfertable low floored buses from the public perspective, and information on initiatives to recharge the Mansagar lake. 

See the articles



Veena Sablok Pathak
Nai Dunia
Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Veena wants to report on the public transport and water management issues in Bhopal. A story on the city’s lakes was recommended by the jury. Bhopal offers an interesting example of people and authorities working in cooperation in the area of recovery of public space. The jury was also keen on a story on the cooperation.

See the articles