Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Karnataka sleeps while other states pitch for urban makeover

West takes lead in revamping cities
Business Standard

Ahmedabad, Bhopal, Jaipur, are ready to smarten up.

If you live in the following states and want a city that is modern and responsive to your needs, consider relocating immediately.

Barring Rajasthan and Chandigarh, none of the Hindi heartland states —Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Punjab and Uttaranchal—has responded to the Centre with a city development plan.

Uttar Pradesh has only two weeks ago appointed consultants to draw up the plan (as many as eight cities including Lucknow, Allahabad and Meerut are in the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission list).

The Union urban development ministry’s efforts to prod Delhi into submitting plans have met with a resounding yawn – with the Commonwealth Games coming up, the state is flush with funds and does not need the headache of carrying out the reforms mandated by the mission.

Southern states are marginally better. Though neither Karnataka, where both Mysore and Bangalore are on the list and desperately need urban planning, nor Kerala has drawn up plans, Tamil Nadu (Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai) has submitted its plan, but sanction of funds has been put off till the Assembly elections are over.

The real stars are Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The quality of the plans submitted by Greater Mumbai and Nagpur are outstanding, say urban development ministry officials.

Maharashtra has even conducted, at considerable expense, a customer satisfaction survey among Nagpur and Greater Mumbai residents to find out in what respect they find their city wanting, the services they satisfied with and what they expect from the city in 5, 10 and 15 years.

Mumbai has been left out because the cost of making changes in the Mumbai system—whether it is repeal of ULCRA or e-governance or reform of rent control laws —is too high and it needs a separate budget altogether. Nanded and Nasik are yet to submit their plans.

From Gujarat, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara have already submitted their plans, collected the first tranche of money (the total central share for Gujarat’s modernisation projects amounts to Rs 17,745 crore) and begun work, mostly water related, in the three months that the project has been kicked off.

Similarly, Andhra Pradesh has begun work proactively in modernising Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Vishakhapatnam.

There is concern among planners that if the development of Indian cities is skewed and uneven, it will ultimately tell on India as a nation.

But competition, in terms of development and its effect on real estate prices, is expected to do the trick. 'Once people see other cities doing well, they will put pressure on the administration in their states to perform. That is our hope' said an official.


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