Mamata Banerjee’s dream to turn Kolkata into London, will no longer to confined to cosmetic changes like installing trident lights or painting everything in the city white a blue.
Trinamool Congress controlled Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) authorities have come up with big plans. KMC bosses now want to draw up a master plan for the city - Vision 2020.
Municipal commissioner Khalil Ahmed in a circular that ordered controlling officer of all civic departments to formulate Vision 2020 for their respective departments. The circular says that since KMC has many departments providing varied citizens services, hence, any vision should be built in a bottom up fashion.
Advising the controlling officers, Ahmed also asked to draw up a quarter-wise planning calendar mentioning the key activities, projects and actions to be taken up in the next three years. Municipal commissioner had also advised that the details of activities planned for the next six months be prepared on a monthly basis.
Ahmed enclosed a sample planning calendar format along with his circular, which is a rough guideline for making it easier for controlling officers to draw up the detailed planning for their respective departments. Each department head has to submit Vision 2020 for their respective departments by November 15, to joint municipal commissioner (Development & General) Md Sahidul Islam. Urgent tasks and key department projects are to be highlighted in the master plan for the city.
“For an organisation like KMC, with a very large and diverse group of stakeholders, a vision statement is all the more necessary so as to build a consensus on different aspects of the development strategy for the city of Kolkata,” Ahmed said.
The municipal commissioner also added that Vision 2020 is all the more important as by the year 2020 40% of India’s population will be living in urban areas and existing metros like Kolkata will have to bear the biggest brunt of the increased population load. However, the move has not gone down well with many controlling officer, with civic bosses questioning the need for such a programme in a service and maintenance oriented organisation.
According to a senior civic official with the sewerage and drainage department, any planning involves space, monetary provision, manpower and land and since KMC’s major job is maintenance, such efforts will simply remain on paper. During Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya’s tenure a master plan 2007 had been drawn up for the next 30 years, for the city’s sewerage and drainage system.
According to the officials, it is lying in the cold room and has never been implemented. Another time, master plan 2005 has been drawn up by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) for drainage, sewerage and sanitation for Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA), which covers both municipal and panchayat areas.
The plan was drawn up in 2004 and has never been put in use. Echoing further questions of its practicability, another senior civic official, attached with the civic buildings department, added that vision for his department would depend on the industrial prospects of the state and other external factors. Thus, any effort to draw up a vision would need a strong estimation of external factors.
However, a plan for streamlining building plan sanctions process can always be drawn up. A senior civic health department doctor further said that the civic department was also planning a vision and in the process of fixing responsibilities for each job.