Fixing accountability for planners, builders and the municipal officials can go a long way in addressing rampant illegal construction going on in the city, Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu said at an ‘Unplugged at HT’ session on Monday.
“For every illegal construction that comes up somebody is there in a municipal body, some official or area town planner or some revenue department official who have closed their eye. My theory is if you make officials accountable then things will improve. So far we are not doing it,” the minister said.
He said municipalities should be empowered, their capacity enhanced and people’s participation be ensured. “There has to be transparency and accountability. Also, everything should be made online including building plan approvals,” he said.
The minister was of the view that to improve services, tough measures have to be taken. “People would be willing to pay for assured and quality services. But there is a fear that if you increase taxes you may loose elections. I am trying to change the mindset…,” Naidu said.
In the long term, Naidu feels that effective urban planning can help check the mushrooming slums. “I have discussed this issue within the ministry as well as with the Delhi government.
I have asked them to jointly come out with an action plan. DDA has been asked to talk to all agencies concerned for amending the building by-laws.”
Admitting that managing the haphazard urbanization is a challenge, the UD minister spoke of the need to go for vertical growth. “Land is a scarce commodity in Delhi…there is a need for vertical development.”
Involve private sector
Naidu said that to tackle India’s growing urbanization, private sector participation will have to be encouraged in a big way. “Be it providing housing for all, ensuring cleanliness through building more toilets or developing smart cities, these require massive investment and private sector has to be roped in,” he said.
The minister cited the example of Swachh Bharat Mission under which the UD ministry has proposed to provide toilets to each and every household in urban India.
“Its is one area where the private sector can be roped in and told to dovetail their CSR funds for the purpose of constructing toilet,” the minister said.