In the federal structure of the Indian polity, the matters pertaining to urban development have been assigned by the Constitution of India to the State Governments. The Constitution (74th Amendment) Act has further delegated many of these functions to the urban local bodies. The constitutional and legal authority of the Govt. of India is limited only to Delhi and other Union Territories and to the subject which State Legislatures authorise the Union Parliament to legislate.
However, the Govt. of India plays a much more important role and exercises a larger influence to shape the policies and programmes of the country as a whole. The national policy issues are decided by the Govt. of India which also allocates resources to the State Governments through various Centrally Sponsored schemes, provides finances through national financial institutions and supports various external assistance programmes for urban development in the country as a whole. Policies and programme contents are decided at the time of formulation of Five Year Plans. The indirect effect of the fiscal, economic and industrial location decisions of the Govt. of India exercise a far more dominant influence on the pattern of urbanisation and real estate investment in the country.
The Ministry of Urban Development is the apex authority of Government of India at the national level to formulate policies, sponsor and support programme, coordinate the activities of various Central Ministries, State Governments and other nodal authorities and monitor the programmes concerning all the issues of urban development in the country.
The Ministry was constituted on 13th May, 1952 when it was known as the Ministry of Works, Housing & Supply. Subsequently it was renamed as Ministry of Works & Housing when a separate Ministry of Supply came up. The name of the Ministry was changed to Ministry of Urban Development in September, 1985 in recognition of the importance of urban issues. With the creation of a separate Department of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation on 8th March, 1995, the Ministry came to be known as the Ministry of Urban Affairs & Employment. The Ministry had two Departments: Department of Urban Development & Department of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation. The two Departments were again merged on 9th April, 1999 and in consequence thereto, the name was restored to " The Ministry of Urban Development." This Ministry was bifurcated into two Ministries viz. (i) "Ministry of Urban Development" and (ii) "Ministry of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation" with effect from 16.10.1999. These two Ministries were again merged into one Ministry on 27.5.2000 and named as "Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation" with two Departments; (i) Department of Urban Development and (ii) Department of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation. From 27-5- 2004, the Ministry has again been bifurcated into two Ministries viz: (i) Ministry of Urban Development and (ii) Ministry of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation vide Presidential Notification No.CD-160/2004 dated 27/5/2004. The Ministry of Urban Employment & Poverty Alleviation was subsequently named as Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation vide Doc. CD-299/2006 dated 1/6/2006.
At the bureaucratic level, the Ministry of Urban Development is headed by Secretary (UD), Dr. Sudhir Krishna.
As per Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, the following business has been allocated to the Ministry of Urban Development :
(a) those belonging to the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Railways and the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Space;
(b) buildings or lands, the construction or acquisition of which has been financed otherwise than from the Civil Works Budget;
(c) buildings or lands, the control of which has at the time of construction or acquisition or subsequently been permanently made over to other Ministries and Departments.
2. All Government Civil Works and Buildings including those of Union territories excluding Roads and excluding works executed by or buildings belonging to the Ministry of Railways, Department of Posts, Department of Telecommunications, Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Space.
3. Horticulture operations.
4. Central Public Works Organisation.
5. Administration of Government estates including Government Hostels under the control of the Ministry. Location or dispersal of offices in or from the metropolitan cities.
6. Allotment of accommodation in Vigyan Bhawan.
7. Administration of four Rehabilitation Markets viz. Sarojini Nagar Market, Shankar Market, Pleasure Garden Market and Kamla Market.
8. Issue of lease or conveyance deeds in respect of Government built properties in Delhi and New Delhi under the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954 (44 of 1954) and conversion of lease deeds, allotment of additional strips of land and correctional areas adjoining such properties.
9. Stationery and Printing for the Government of India including official publications.
10. Planning and coordination of urban transport systems with technical planning of rail based systems being subject to the items of work allocated to the Ministry of Railways, Railway Board.
11. Fixing of maximum and minimum rates and fares for rail-based urban transport systems other than those funded by the Indian Railways.
12. Tramways including elevated high speed trams within municipal limits or any other contiguous zone.
13. Town and Country Planning; matters relating to the Planning and Development of Metropolitan Areas, International Cooperation and technical assistance in this field.
14. Schemes of large scale acquisition, development and disposal of land in Delhi.
15. Delhi Development Authority.
16. Master Plan of Delhi, Coordination of work in respect of the Master Plan and Slum Clearance in the National Capital Territory of Delhi.
17. Erection of memorials in honour of freedom fighters.
18. Development of Government Colonies.
19. Local Government, that is to say, the constitution and powers of the Municipal Corporations (excluding the Municipal Corporation of Delhi), Municipalities (excluding the New Delhi Municipal Committee), other Local Self-Government Administrations excluding Panchayati Raj Institutions.
20. The Delhi Water Supply and Sewage Disposal Undertaking of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.
21. Water supply (subject to overall national perspective of water planning and coordination assigned to the Ministry of Water Resources), sewage, drainage and sanitation relating to urban areas and linkages from allocated water resources. International cooperation and technical assistance in this field.
22. The Central Council of Local Self-Government.
23. Allotment of Government land in Delhi.
24. Administration of Rajghat Samadhi Committee.
25. All matters relating to Planning and Development of the National Capital Region and administration of the National Capital Region Planning Board Act, 1985 (2 of 1985).
26. Matters relating to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
27. Matters of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) relating to urban infrastructure.
28. Administration of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 (30 of 1952).
29. Administration of Delhi Hotels (Control of Accommodation Act, 1949 (24 of 1949).
30. The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 (40 of 1971).
31. Administration of the Delhi Development Act, 1957 (61 of 1957).
32. The Delhi Rent Control Act, 1958 (59 of 1958).
33. The Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 (33 of 1976).
34. Delhi Urban Art Commission, the Delhi Urban Art Commission Act, 1973 (1 of 1973).