State bats for heritage city status for Aurangabad
The state government is aiming to pocket maximum funds from the Centre for its development schemes, as its coffers are under the burden of debt. In its latest bid, the Maharashtra government has demanded Aurangabad to be added to the Centre’s National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), for the development of 52 heritage monuments in the city. Currently, no city in Maharashtra has been selected by the Centre for the HRIDAY scheme.
In a recent meeting with Arun Jaitley, officials from the state government presented their demand before the Union finance minister. The Centre turned down the demand, saying that it cannot tweak its plans at this stage. However, the state administration hopes that the Centre will consider its request on Aurangabad’s inclusion to HRIDAY while planning the second set of heritage cities.
State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said, “Jaitley has expressed the Centre’s inability to include Aurangabad in HRIDAY. But we won’t give up hope. Centre rarely makes changes to its schemes, once the initiatives are announced. But, we are hopeful of its inclusion in the second phase.”
Aurangabad has dozens of monuments, which include UNESCO World Heritage site Ellora caves, Bibi Ka Maqbara and the Daulatabad Fort. The state had sought the Centre’s help in the maintenance and further development of these sites. The district administration has prepared a budget of Rs75 crore for the development of these monuments.
“The Maharashtra government has been spending funds on the development of its cities from the state exchequer, without much help from the Centre. However, cities which make it to the Centre’s privileged list, receive better funding, which is essential for their holistic development. We have allocated Rs150 crore for the overall development of the city of Aurangbad. But if the city makes it to the HRIDAY scheme, it may get the benefits of better water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, approach road and tourist conveniences,” Mungantiwar said.
The ministry of housing and urban affairs of the central government launched HRIDAY in January 2015 that focuses on the development of 12 Indian cities.