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 Prime minister’s office.