ARCHITECTS OF the 2021 Indore Development Plan (draft) have been widely panned for reasons ranging from erosion of green spaces to the failure to take the implementing agencies, IMC and IDA, into confidence.
But one important aspect, which even the critics seem to have overlooked, is where’s the money going to come from to implement proposals mooted in the master plan.
The first phase alone involves expenses of Rs 2,450 crore with Rs 1,930 crore going towards civic, transport and social infrastructure projects.
An additional Rs 500 crore is to be spent on acquiring the 5400 hectares of land needed for development mooted in the planning area.
Among the proposed tasks are laying of a fresh road network spanning 80-kms and repair of existing roads, construction of five over bridges/flyovers, environmental improvement along a 30 km long stretch of the Khan and Saraswati rivers, construction of 15,000 low cost houses to relocate slum dwellers and setting up a Transport Nagar.
The draft proposes a host of charges and levies (betterment fees, land use change fees and approved activities’ fees-for residential areas, among others), to fund the projects. Though well meaning, the taxation suggestion is likely to come a cropper.
In a City where nearly 60 per cent of property tax bills go unpaid and people bristle at the mere suggestion of a water tax hike it is hard to imagine residents queuing up to pay a fresh set of taxes.
And without the public’s help there’s no way the cash-strapped Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC), scrounging for the Rs 35 crore it needs to pay off contractors (short term) and money needed for its share in the ADB and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) projects (long-term), would be able to raise the funds. Nor for that matter would the IDA or even the MPHB.
Town planners, however, believe direct taxes aren’t indispensable. “The works can be carried out through a combination of public private partnership and grant-in-aid projects like the JNNURM”, declared Director, Town and Country Planning SN Mishra speaking over phone from Bhopal.
“The agencies concerned can shortlist particular projects, be it about water supply, road widening or low-cost housing, and forward these to the State government for Mission funding”.
The build-operate-transfer pattern, increasingly favoured by civic agencies all over the country, could also help cut down on developmental expenses.
At least two of the proposals mooted in the master plan draft have run afoul of the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC). “We will object to the dropping of the proposed stadium at Pipliyahana behind Goyal Colony and the proposal to relocate the Nihalpur Sabzi Mandi to Devguradia”, Mayor Dr Uma Shashi Sharma told Hindustan Times.
It may be recalled that certain MiC members have opposed the dropping of the stadium while the Corporation plans to set up a slaughterhouse and landfill at Devguradia. “The remaining objections will be finalised after a three-member committee appointed for the task submits its report”, she added.