UNION MINISTER of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken laid stress on arresting urban sprawl by encouraging multi-storeyed housing, called smart growth. He also dismissed metro rail projects as expensive and said Bus Rapid Transit Systems (BRTS) are best means of public transport in cities.
“Urban sprawl is gobbling up green space and agricultural lands across the country, which is a cause of concern,” the Minister admitted while responding to a query at the ‘Meet the Press’ held at Indore Press Club today.
Stating that urbanisation was irrevocable, he informed that 75 per cent of Indian population would reside in urban areas by 2025.
Of the limited option whether to create 2,500-3,000 more cities or to densify the existing cities to meet the 2025 need, the latter is better manageable as is visible in Shanghai, Manhattan, Hong Kong or Singapore, he added.
Reflecting on BRTS, he said Delhi would introduce it soon despite having a metro rail. Not only is the metro rail’s capital cost exorbitant, but it costs Rs 200 crore per kilometre to run whereas the BRTS expense for same distance is Rs 10 crore.
Indore, Maken said, has the potential to develop as world-class city due to its vibrant economy and political will prevalent for it’s all round
development. When asked what he meant by world-class city, he said it has to have well developed roads and public transport system, pollution-free environment, scientific sewage and garbage disposal system and that all would be possible with implementation of schemes submitted under JNNURM.
“It can develop as an exemplary city provided planned properly and steps are taken at this stage to curb slum growth unlike Mumbai or Delhi that failed to do it,” Maken added.
He promised full cooperation for Indore development and said that Union Government rose above party lines to select 63 cities for JNNURM, as most of the beneficiary cities have non-Congress rule.
The Minister refused to comment on the controversy that has erupted due to revelations made in Jaswant Singh’s autobiography ‘Call to Honour’ where he mentioned about a mole in the PMO.
BRTS viable, Centre nod likely by August end
CONVINCED ABOUT the financial viability of Rs 868.15 crore Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project prepared by Indore City Transport Services Limited, Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken assured of its clearance by his ministry.
Union Urban Development Department Joint Secretary (transport division) O P Agrawal, who accompanied the Minister, told Hindustan times that BRTS and projects submitted under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) by Indore Municipal Corporation and Indore Development Authority to the Ministry would be cleared by August end this year.
The Minister undertook first-hand assessment of BRTS in addition to seven IMC and five IDA projects for JNNURM at the meeting held here this afternoon.
Maken, however, made certain recommendations at the meeting. For the BRTS, he insisted for parking places so that people could leave their vehicles there and board the bus. “We have launched Metro train in Delhi but there are not adequate parking provisions and feeder routes to help people board the train easily. So make sure you have them.
And plan them well,” he said. He also laid stress on developing feeder routes for smooth passage of other vehicles on the road.
On the proposed development of 14.50 km long river corridor, which runs along the centre of the City, Maken asked officials to make sure that construction of retaining wall along the Khan River doesn’t block its water recharging pores. “Keep in mind environment protection as well, otherwise environmentalists will raise concern,” he added.
While deliberating on creation of zones for 10,000 hawkers in the municipal limit, the Minister asked Municipal Commissioner Vinod Sharma to hire a private, reputed agency for carrying out survey of hawkers in the City before allotting them space.
He said if people with adequate financial resources acquire the space, genuine hawkers would shift to other place, which in turn would defeat the very purpose of setting up such zones.
Responding to the slum rehabilitation project, Maken insisted on constructing seven feet high ground floor and leave it open for parking and holding community functions at residential buildings constructed under Valmiki Ambedkar Awas Yojana (VAMBAY). He, however, denied possibility of government bearing the cost of private land in case it was needed to develop housing facility for poor.
Those present at the meeting included IDA Chairman Madhu Verma, Mayor-in-Council member in-charge of Public Works Department Lalit Porwal, IMC Leader of Opposition Suresh Minda, City BJP president Ramesh Mendola, City Congress president Ujagar Singh, Additional Collector Rameshwar Gupta and Additional Municipal Commissioner Kumar Purushottam among others. SDM Chandramauli Shukla made presentation on ICTSL and BRTS.