New govt’s development agenda: GIS planning for urban growth, housing for all

What does the new Urban Development minister, Rajyasabha MP from Karnataka, Venkaiah Naidu have in store for Bangalore? Read.

Central Minister of Housing, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Minister (HUPA) Venkaiah Naidu announced in a press conference on Friday that one among many plans to develop the city would be to make use of scientific Geographic Information System (GIS) for Town Planning.

Venkaiah Naidu announced this after conducting first review meeting in the state at Hotel Orchid on Friday, May 30, 2014. The progress review meeting had top bureaucrats of various departments such as BBMP, BWSSB, BDA, BMTC, KUIDFC etc. Urban Land Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy was also present. Venkaiah Naidu and Bangalore Central’s Member of Parliament P C Mohan addressed the press meet.

Venkaiah Naidu addressing the press conference in Bangalore. Pic: Nikita Malusare

The new government will make use of Geographic Information System (GIS) for Town Planning and to regulate the reckless growth of the cities.

Adding that unregulated growth is the result of lack of planning and monitoring, he said in order to get rid of this problem, local bodies will be asked to plan using GIS technology, so that the development will be regulated in future. “We will ensure that there is systematic development,” he added.

‘No lack of funds for Metro’

He announced that Phase -I of the Bangalore Metro covering 42.3 KM will be completed by March 2015 while Phase – II of length 72.095 Km will be completed in a period of five years.

When he was asked whether Metro will receive support from Centre, he said transport system will get its importance. “I don’t want to make tall promises… Bangalore will receive due special attention.”

Various other transport systems like Bus Rapid Transport System, Monorail, Tram will be studied and implemented if viable, he explained, adding that the government will also try to make use of waterways for transportation wherever possible.

Walkways, bicycle ways, public parking for vehicles, rejuvenation of urban water bodies, recycling and reusing city’s waste water and managing solid waste better seemed to be on the agenda of the Central Minister.

Urban upliftment, improving facilities like transport, sanitation, water, housing, livelihood opportunities etc were the priority areas for the new government, said Venkaiah Naidu.

Prominence to urban citizens

He said the Prime Minister has asked the ministers to give priority to the problems of urban citizens. As of today, according to census, the urban population is more than 32%. In 1951, the urban population was only 17%. “Going by the trend, by 2050, 50% of the population will migrate to towns,” he predicted.

The plan is to de-congest cities by building satellite towns equipped with all necessary infrastructure. “We need to plan new cities in a way that three important aspects of the city are incorporated in it: Education, Employment and Entertainment.”

“We can’t pressurise people to leave the cities. We need to take care of the problem. Improvement  of urban infrastructure, sanitation, water, integrated sewage water and waste disposal system should be developed. These should be should be Mantras of the Ministry,” he said.

He shared the new government’s plan to make 100 smart cities and twin cities wherever possible. He did not reveal the locations but promised that these cities will have world class facilities like free wi-fi, good infrastructure and transport.

Transparency in the system

When asked what are the five key things that Urban Development ministry will address in the next five years, he replied, “We are in the process of identifying the key areas. PM has told us to prepare plans in the 100 days, what are our priorities and how do we plan to go about it. Once this is complete, I will comment… I am trying to understand various challenges, whether the ongoing schemes need to be changed or not.”

He continued, “It will be totally transparent. I want to have transparency in the system. Every scheme funded by central government should be displayed on the board outside their office. Right To Information is not by asking, Right To Information is by providing details by the government itself. It is people’s money, they should know how much money is spent on schemes.”

Housing for all by 2022

Talking about employment, Venkaiah Naidu said: “Employment is a major challenge for every government. No government can provide employment to all. Therefore we need to have Public Private Partnership.”

He added, “Also I urge the private sector as a part of social responsibility to provide housing for their staff, to attend the ambitious motto of the government housing for all by 2022.”

He said, “Mere government will not be able to reach this task. We need to involve corporate sector. I will be calling a meeting of various stakeholders for this purpose on June 2. We want to involve the state, local  bodies and the private sector in this massive ambitious programme.”

When asked whether Gujarat Model will be implemented all over the country, he said that the best experience and performance from cities across the country will be taken. “Gujarat is one such state. We will look at different states but only good practices will be implemented. We will learn from others’ experience and create a model in each state,” he added.

He claimed that as a Rural Development minister, he brought Government of India to states, now he will implement the same. “Delhi will come to Bangalore,” he added.

Along with his officials, Venkaiah Naidu will fly down to various state capitals and discuss the projects with the officials. “We will not be dependent on files. We shall discuss the projects directly, face to face.”

“Prime Minister has told us to take states along with us. India means all states. As far as development is concerned, there will be no politics. Politics will be played where it should be,” said Venkaiah Naidu, and added that he was happy with Karnataka’s overall performance presented in the review meeting.

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