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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014

Rocking in Raipur: A ground report from Chhattisgarh

Ejaz Kaiser, Hindustan Times   December 08, 2012
First Published: 21:49 IST(8/12/2012) | Last Updated: 21:53 IST(8/12/2012)

Chhattisgarh’s swanky capital city, the youngest in the country, is likely to make other cities go green with envy. As the administrative and political life began here a month ago, it has arguably raised people’s aspirations.

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Naya Raipur, as it is christened, emerges as the most ambitious dream project to show-off modern architectural urban design with an eco-friendly concept.

Twelve years after Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh, the emerging city, some 20 km from Raipur, is among the few capitals built from scratch. A network of wide road connectivity and no ugly cables dangling. The services of water & power supply, drainage and the communication system are all underground.

The change is so palatable that the aam admi is pondering over the possibility of his space in the futuristic plan and remains curious about what lies ahead for him as the concept of capital city goes much beyond addressing the constraints of land availability and lack of basic infrastructure.

“I think people like us may have little scope”, averred Jagannath Karsh, a small cloth merchant.

Many appreciate the new capital and indeed feel there was a pressing need for it since Raipur was just a divisional headquarter upgraded to capital in November 2000 when Chhattisgarh was created.

The Naya Raipur development plan will continue in three-phased manner during the next two decades. The total project cost is Rs. 6000 crore, which is half the budgetary allocation (Rs 11,987 crore) earmarked for national programme on mid day meals for 2012-13. So far Rs. 1800 crore incurred. Convenient public transport
will address the long distance for the people.

Kumar, Chairman, NRDA, affirmed that the project is strictly need-based. "The notified area is around 95 sq km having around 5 percent agricultural land and remaining the government wasteland", he stated. 

The opposition Congress Party apprehended that Naya Raipur will just end-up as city of babus and government staffers. "The capital city will of course have advanced features for seat of government but only 2 sectors of the 21 are reserved for government staff", Baijendra Kumar responded.

But some believe the new capital might not hold much significance in the daily lives of people. “Not even one percent of the population will visit the new secretariat in Naya Raipur as their issues would be resolved at district level offices”, says Anirudh Sharma a lawyer.

However, the students and youths largely remain delighted. “It's good to have a city that manifests signs of modern amenities with metropolitan culture. We hope scope of education and employment to grow”, felt Sameer Shukla, a management student. But there are others unsure if the capital city offer space for them. 

A ‘perception’ among lower and middle class prevails that not much exists to suit their circumstances and opportunities. “I wish to move with family and open a small kiosk,” expressed a tea shop vendor Ganpat Sahu.

Sahu can keep his desire alive. “Twenty percent of housing land are reserved for economical weaker section and lower income groups. There are other envisaged community-based schemes. In the coming years lot of scope will open up for the people," Chairman of Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA) N Baijendra Kumar says.

The officials say the extensive planning, detailed feasibility studies carried out to create the city in undeveloped areas with green (environmental) concept imparted to nearly one-third land in each of 21 residential sectors where there would be the range of amenities for social, education and recreation. The planners concentrated on non-motorised transport system, rainwater harvesting and solar energy.


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