Readers’ Choice | Govt finalizing Rs10,000 crore policy to decongest big cities

Readers’ Choice | Govt finalizing Rs10,000 crore policy to decongest big cities
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First Published: Sun, Nov 18 2007. 01 30 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Nov 19 2007. 06 52 PM IST
New Delhi: The Union ministry of urban development, which is formulating a policy for the development of 35 satellite towns around large cities to decongest heavily populated areas, says about Rs9,000-10,000 crore will be spent in developing them in the next five years.
The ministry is in the process of finalizing a policy to develop these satellite towns around mega cities such as New Delhi and Mumbai. Delhi’s suburbs such as Gurgaon, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad, as well as Panchkula in Haryana, Mohali in Punjab and Mysore in Karnataka are among other areas that could be developed.
“We want to develop satellite towns to deflect immigrant population from the parent city, decentralize economic activity and ensure effective connectivity with the parent city through an integrated transport system,” an official in the urban development ministry said. He didn’t want to be identified because the policy is still being formulated.
Out of the 35 cities, 28 cities would be cities with a population of more than a million and seven would have a population of at least four million. The policy will look at improving the urban infrastructure facilities in satellite towns such as power, water, drainage, education and health facilities, and emphasize on improving links between the satellite town and the parent city.
Indian cities are bursting at the seams as more and more people move from villages to towns in search of jobs. It has thrown civic amenities out of gear, ranging from drainage to roads, and created slums and swathes of urban poor that are overloading municipal facilities. As part of a plan to rejuvenate India’s urban spaces, the government already has the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which is giving out funds for redevelopment of urban spaces.
However, the ministry has drawn out a separate funding mechanism for these satellite towns. In the case of cities with a population of at least four million, it has suggested the Union government should contribute 50% of the required investment, the state government 25% and local bodies 25%. For cities with a population of more than a million, it has suggested that the Centre contributes 75% of the investment, the state 15% and local bodies 10%.
“The outer areas of mega cities need to be developed as cities are becoming saturated,” the ministry official said. “The development of satellite towns will help in addressing the current housing shortage in big cities. Transportation between a satellite town and the parent city needs to be improved through a fast track efficient mass transport system.”
In recent times, the pressure on urban transportation systems in large cities has increased as more and more people are migrating to big ­cities. State governments are trying to address the problem of inadequate transport system in mega cities by introducing innovative and cost-effective transport systems. For instance, the Delhi government is in the process of introducing a High Capacity Bus System along major arterial roads in the city to decongest the traffic. The corridors will have separate bus lanes for the smooth movement of buses.
The ministry, which had circulated a concept note on satellite towns to the concerned Union and state government agencies, recently had a consultation with all the state governments on the policy.
After the consultation, the ministry official said they may consider including around eight cities from the North-East under the policy. These cities would be in addition to the 35 cities already under the policy.
“We felt that we should not have population alone as a criteria for developing satellite towns around cities,” the ministry official said. If this suggestion is accepted, cities such as Shillong (Meghalaya), Guwahati (Assam), Kohima (Nagaland), Imphal (Manipur), Aizawl (Mizoram), Agartala (Tripura), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Gangtok (Sikkim) and Dibrugarh (Assam) could also come under the policy.
The policy is currently being redrafted, after which it would be taken up for an inter-ministerial consultation.
Apart from this, the ministry is also looking at developing IT townships and special economic zones as satellite towns (SEZs).
“We feel that IT townships and SEZs promoted by the concerned ministries should also have an organized urban government structure,” the official said. “Each urban area should be governed by an elected local urban body so that they become self-contained townships.”
The urban development ministry has written to the ministries of commerce and IT to look at developing such townships as satellite towns.
shabana.h@livemint.com
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First Published: Sun, Nov 18 2007. 01 30 PM IST