Just a few days after Patna was ranked among the dirtiest cities of India, it was left to chief minister Nitish Kumar to publicly acknowledge he hung his head in shame after seeing the extent of filth on Patna’s roads.
Kumar’s candid confessions came on Wednesday at a function organised here to launch various facilities raised by the urban development department in the state capital and other cities of the state.
The chief minister sounded quite upset, as he asked Patna mayor Afzal Imam, who was also present there, to bring about a perceptible change for the better in the capital’s outlook within a year.
“If things don’t improve, I will have to use the last option,” he told the Patna municipal corporation (PMC) mayor, ominously, in an apparent reference to the government’s power supersede the civic body and appoint an administrator to manage its affairs.
The CM said there was no dearth of schemes and funds for municipal corporations and other urban bodies. “The government can provide resources. But work of cleanliness has to be done by the PMC,” he said.
“It is very unfortunate that the initiatives taken by the government to improve the scenario don’t translate into reality,” he said, adding that the mayor and officials of the PMC required working in coordination to get things done smoothly.
Taking a dig at the Centre’s smart city project, the CM wondered if spending Rs 500 crore in five years could catapult a town into smart city. “Initially, they (the Central government) selected 100 cities for development as smart cities. Later, the number of towns got curtailed to 20 only, leaving capital towns of many states. They are smart in talks and we are best in work. We will make smart villages,” said Kumar.
Referring to the government’s plan of action to improve civic amenities, the CM said an investment of Rs 8,000 crore was proposed for development of urban infrastructure. He also asked the UDD to set up an urban engineering organisation to lend engineering support to all urban bodies.
Acknowledging growing scale of pollution in the capital city, the CM said a lot of measures had to be taken to curb the menace. “Carbon emission has increased. We are trying to restrict it by discouraging plying of private vehicles and encouraging people to use public transport,” he said.
The CM also asked the transport department to submit a proposal to run long distance buses for Delhi, Kolkata and Ranchi. As part of the state’s initiative to popularise use of public transport, 70 city buses would ply in Patna, 26 in Darbhanga, 30 in Gaya and 15 in Chapra.
He said the government would supply 300 additional buses to transport department, if it evinced its interest to run them.
Referring to his ‘seven commitments’, the CM said the government had taken it up in a mission mode to provide potable water in urban and rural areas through urban bodies.
“The state government is offering Rs 8,000 for construction of toilets to each individual. Pucca roads and drains are being constructed, even as the government will provide power connection. Doorto-door collection will also be launched as part of solid waste management,” said Kumar.
Urban development minister Maheshwar Hazari and transport minister Chandrika Rai also spoke about various schemes in the offing to better living conditions in urban areas.
Principal secretary, UDD, Amrit Lal Meena, principal secretary, transport, Sujata Chaturvedi, Buidco MD Narendra Kumar Singh and PMC commissioner Jai Singh were also present.