EMBATTLED MAYOR Dr Uma Shashi Sharma on Thursday extended an olive branch to former bete noire and Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) chairman Shankar Lalwani by appointing him to chair a committee to carry out pro-poor urban governance projects funded jointly by the UK-government's Department for International Development (DfID) and the State Government as part of the MP Urban Services for Poor (MPUSP) programme.
A corpus of Rs 359 crore has been made available for pro-poor projects in the form of a grant by the DfID for four cities, Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Ujjain. Indore is expected to bag the lion's share of the fund likely to hover around 40 per cent of the total amount.
The announcement regarding Lalwani's appointment came after the Mayor inaugurated a three-day workshop under the auspices of the MPUSP at Hotel Amar Vilas on Thursday.
The appointment triggered speculation that the Mayor was attempting to mend fences with Lalwani in a bid to consolidate her position following a near-open revolt by mayoral council members loyal to PWD Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Lalwani, who has had a blow-hot, blow-cold relationship with Dr Sharma in the past, nurses an ambition to get into the State Assembly, a desire that led him to Vijayvargiya camp. The IMC Chairman has, however, distanced himself after the Minister came under a cloud following gubernatorial demands for an inquiry into the pension scam.
Earlier, addressing the delegates Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma declared that creation and effective implementation of economic development and poverty alleviation programmes was a top priority not only for urban bodies but also the State and Central governments.
A committee chaired by Chairman Shankar Lalwani has been constituted to prepare a detailed project report for funding under MPUSP and I'm hopeful of getting the largest possible portion of the fund amount, she said.
DfID Team leader Brooke Pollock asserted that creatively designed projects would not only result in improved civic services for the urban poor but also combat unemployment by offering jobs to local youth.
Municipal commissioner Vinod Sharma, Mayor-in-Council members Munnalal Yadav, Lalit Porwal, Chandu Shinde, Rajendra Rathore, Anil Bindal, Laal Bahadur Verma and Sapna Chauhan as well as several heads of department attended the workshop.