Sunday, July 23, 2006

We need a PPP policy

We need a PPP policy
The PPP policy could also provide for the participation of residents’ associations in the building/maintenance of a local project. Residents will probably maintain those assets better.
The Times of India

The urge among citizens, developers and companies to do something to improve their localities appears widespread. Experts say this latent urge could be tapped far more effectively if the state government were to put in place a public-private partnership policy that clearly defines the responsibilities of the participating public agencies, private companies and citizens’ bodies.

“Everything is ad hoc today,” says R K Misra, a member of the state’s empowered committee on infrastructure. “So what’s promised is often not delivered. The PWD still has not fulfilled all its responsibilities on the Bannerghatta Road PPP and the Kundalahalli PPP. The builders were initially so happy with the PPP arrangements, but now I don’t have the guts to go to them asking for money.” Misra notes that even some builders who initially promised money for
the projects did not deliver.

Prestige Group chairman Irfan Razack raises similar concerns: “We did the pavement and roundabout at Dairy Circle four years ago spending about Rs 1 crore. Now it has all been demolished. We did the airport exit road nicely with palm trees and fountains, spending over Rs 40 lakh some years ago for which we got some signage rights on that stretch. But the Airports Authority of India recently knocked off our signages. The government must stand by its commitments.”

Geeta Shankar of the Brigade Group says the government was to remove the encroachments on JP Nagar 24th Main so that the group could complete the asphalting of that road. “But even today, they haven’t fully done that,” she says.

A policy, experts say, would bring clarity to each group’s role and formally bind all parties to do their part of the job. Under the policy, the government could say it will contribute a certain amount of resources for particular kinds of projects, and urge private parties to bring in the rest, and offer the latter rewards for that. Or it could do a project, and hand it over to an association for its upkeep. Misra notes that KIADB did this in Electronics City, where the roads are now maintained by the Electronics City Association through a token sum it collects from all employees there. “This was a success. Compare the roads in Electronics City with those in the EPIP area of Whitefield, where no such thing was done,” he says.

Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) commissioner K Jairaj, however, says companies don’t show sustained interest in a project. “When I ask companies to tell me what their problems are so that I can sort them out, I receive no replies,’’ he shrugs. He says he has invited companies for road-widening or improvising projects, but has received no response.

But even Jairaj agrees that it is necessary to have an official document that lays down the bylaws of PPP. “A lot of confusion arises because we don’t have any written PPP policy,” he says.
Until that falls into place, it seems like a rocky, uncertain road ahead for PPP.


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