A Union minister laid the foundation stone of a city civic project for the first time on Thursday. The project: a filtered surface water supply scheme for Thakurpukur, in Behala.
Union urban development minister Jaipal Reddy and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee both raised their voices against “cosmetic projects” at the launch (Picture by Amit Datta).
The proposed Rs 38.12-crore booster station at Daspara, coming up with funds from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, is likely to benefit 1.1 lakh people in the south-western suburb. A four-bigha plot has been allotted to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation by the state public works department (PWD) for the project.
“Development activities in the state will primarily be directed at betterment of the poor and the downtrodden. We need a perspective plan for that, instead of cosmetic projects to show off,” stated the chief minister.
Reddy said that though urban development is the state’s responsibility, the Centre has taken up schemes such as Urban Renewal Mission in view of studies predicting that by 2025, more than half the country’s population will live in urban areas.
He claimed the Centre will invest about Rs 100,000 crore in six years, starting with 2007, to augment and reinforce the urban infrastructure across the country. State grants will boost the central endowment.
Work on altogether 51 infrastructure development schemes are now in progress in the urban areas of the state, at an investment of Rs 1,853.39 crore.
According to Reddy, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Chennai may appear shining but are actually “shallow and hollow”, as more than 50 per cent of the population is poor and lives in slums. Municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya and PWD minister Kshiti Goswami attended the launch.