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Govt plans to hike metro grant

Union Minister Jaipal Reddy says, the Centre proposes to increase its share of expenditure in public-private partnership metro rail projects in mega cities, report Jatin Gandhi and Madhusree Chatterjee.
Hindustan Times | By Jatin Gandhi/Madhusree Chatterjee, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 28, 2007 02:17 AM IST

The Centre proposes to increase its share of expenditure in public-private partnership metro rail projects in mega cities, Union Minister for Urban Development S Jaipal Reddy told the HT Estates Conclave on Saturday.

“We are thinking of increasing the grant from the current 20 per cent to 30 per cent,” he said, adding that the state could pitch in with 10 per cent while the remaining majority funding would come from the private partner.

The minister said the papers for the proposed change have already been put up for Cabinet approval.

Reddy said it was for the first time in the world that a government was experimenting on the public-private partnership model for metro rail transport. The proposed model is for mega cities — Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. “So far, Mumbai and Hyderabad have come forward to adopt the model.”

For smaller cities, Reddy said, the bus rapid transport system model appears more suitable. “It is also four times cheaper,” he said, adding that the country could not afford personalised transport beyond a point.

Reddy said the momentum of growth was gradually shifting from the Capital to the NCR “which had grown significantly and were acting as counter-magnets to attract the migrant population outside Delhi”. As a result, there has been a decline in the influx of migrants to Delhi.

“Let this conclave dream of slum-free metros,” Reddy said, setting the tenor of the HT Real Estate Conclave on Metros and Beyond: Pushing New Frontiers.

But that does not mean poor people have to live in miserable conditions. The minister said land could be made available in “better places to accommodate the poor people”.

The urban tide, according to the minister, is irreversible. In 1981, the country had 12 metros, which were cities with a population of more than 1 million. In 2001, the number rose to 35, and it is expected to double by 2025. Nearly 50 per cent of the world’s population lives in metros now.

Citing examples of the boom, Sanjay Chandra, the managing director of Unitech, said cities like Jodhpur and Barmer, where houses did not have sewers till a few years ago, are the new growth centres. “These towns are doing extremely well,” he said.

However, builders felt that the process of scrapping the urban land ceiling had to be made more effective on the ground to meet the gap between the huge demand and the supply to make homes cost-effective.

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