Ahmedabad: Saturday: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today expressed his firm resolve to go ahead with ‘Clean City Pilot Project’ in 50 cities in Gujarat, notwithstanding the Central Government’s undue delay in taking a decision for implementing the same project in 500 cities across India
The Central Government had appointed a High-Powered Expert Committee (HPEC), headed by Dr Isher Ahluwalia, for finding out the financial implications of providing urban infrastructure like drinking water, gutter, solid waste management, storm water drainage, roads, transport and street light, in 500 cities. The report was presented before the experts in urban development and other related departments of Gujarat Government today.
Addressing a seminar on Urban Infrastructure and Services at CEPT University here, Mr. Modi said the committee has submitted its detailed sector-wise report with revenue model two years back, but did not take any decision so far.
He said that urban development had remained a neglected sector in India, resulting in the pathetic state they are in. He said that JNNURM has now focused on the issue, but it still lacked a direction and political will.
The Chief Minister said that annual budget allocation for urban development in Gujarat was about Rs.250-crore ten years back. It has gone up to Rs.3,000-crore now. The Gujarat Government has embarked on infusing life into the towns with new plans and strategy.
As an additional initiative, he said, Gujarat decided to take up rural development also along with urban development, including ‘Rurban’ project for providing urban facilities in 85 villages. He said that initiatives like Jyotigram Yojna for 24x7 hours uninterrupted power supply in all the 18,000-odd villages and broadband connectivity to village panchayats in the State have succeeded in reducing the rural-urban gap and check rural exodus towns by 33 per cent.
He recalled that Gujarat Government had removed 2-lakh hectares of encroachments from towns in the State during the Year of Urban Development in 2005, despite it being the election year for local self-government institutions. He suggested developing urban disaster management also.
The Chief Minister listed the proposed bullet train between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, Metro Rail for Ahmedabad and satellite towns around 100-km of Ahmedabad city
Dr Isher Ahluwalia in her presentation said that the high power committee suggested development of cities in the country under eight major parameters with an investment of Rs.39.02-lakh-crore, and had a word of praise for Gujarat’s initiative in urban facelift.
Gujarat’s former Chief Secretary Sudhir Mankad, who is also a member of the committee, said that research in several fields of urban development is going on at the national level.
Others present on the occasion included CEPT University Director Dr. R.N. Vakil, Gujarat’s Principal Secretary Urban Development I.P. Gautam, Municipal Commissioners of Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat, CEPT faculty and students.