‘Urban mantra for economic growth’
What is the status of urbanisation in Bihar and which are the cities that can earn the urban tag in future?
Urban development is of immense importance in view of the significant contribution it makes towards the overall growth and development of the economy of states. According to the 2011 Census, the total population of Bihar is 103.80 million, of which 11.72 million (11.30 per cent) constitute the urban population.
Though Bihar is less urbanised compared to the major states in the country, the pace of urbanisation in our state has accelerated rapidly in the recent years. Apart from Patna, the other promising cities in Bihar are Gaya, Nalanda, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Begusarai and Purnea.
‘JNNURM projects on track’
What is the comprehensive status of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) schemes in Bihar?
Utilisation of funds during the first phase (2007- 2012) of JNNURM was less than satisfactory because of constraints such as poor financial condition of urban local bodies and lack of institutional and legal frameworks. The Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) sub-mission aims at providing basic service to the urban population like water supply and solid waste and waste water management. As part of the plan, Rs 214.93 crore were released to the state-level nodal agencies for undertaking schemes in two mission cities. Till date, Rs 44.09 crore have been utilised. Similarly, under the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) sub-mission that aims at integrated development of slums 60 sites in Patna and seven in Bodhgaya, Rs 149 crore have been sanctioned for developing 22,372 dwelling units for the urban poor. The urban development department has utilised funds to the tune of Rs. 3.13 crore. State-level nodal agencies have been provided with Rs 133.64 crore under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Town sub-mission, of which merely Rs 43.14 crore have been utilised. Under the Integrated Housing for Slum Development Programme sub-mission, Rs 153.58 crore have been released to state-level nodal agencies, of which Rs 79.89 crore have been utilised. Most impediments have been removed now. The department has prepared city development plans for 28 cities in the state, which is the basic tool for the implementation of JNNURM schemes and pursuing funds from the Centre. We expect to achieve very high success rate.
The urban development department is also in the final stage of drafting the master plan for Patna Metropolitan Region (PMR), 2032. Can you brief our readers about the features of the plan?
The proposed master plan envisages the PMR to be spread over an area of 2,052sqkm covering Patna, Saran and Vaishali. It would be a tool to plan and regulate urban growth in and around the city over a given period of time. It would also ensure planned development through development control regulations. These rules would ensure that construction is carried out according to the size of plots and width of roads among other parameters. The department has entrusted the task of conducting a survey and providing technical assistance for the preparation of the draft master plan to the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University, Ahmedabad. The plan would be put on public domain by the end of this month for seeking objections and suggestions.
‘Dump out-dated systems’
The Solid Waste Management (Handling and Regulation) Ru-les, 2000, made it mandatory for all cities to have collection, segregation and scientific disposal of waste, including landfill site and solid waste processing complex, by the end of 2002. How many cities in the state have such systems?
Unfortunately, none of the cities in the state has an effective system of solid waste management, including fully operational waste processing complex. The department is working for improvement in this regard. The aim is to replace the following out-dated system currently in use. First, waste littered on the streets or thrown in open drains; second, waste collected in irregular manner; third, open dumping on ground within the city in most unhygienic manner
Under the department’s on-going “Support Programme for Urban Reforms in Bihar (SPUR)”, UKaid, the erstwhile Department for International Development, Government of United Kingdom, has agreed to reimburse a part of the payment (75 per cent in the first year) to the contractor for providing services of collection and transportation of municipal solid waste. The partial funding is agreed to be provided to 28 urban local bodies under SPUR. Contracts have already been awarded to private agencies for providing municipal solid waste-related services in Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Biharsharif, Gaya, Darbhanga, Ara, Danapur, Khagaul and Phulwarisharif. Apart from this, detailed project reports for Patna, Danapur Nizamat, Khagaul, Phulwarisharif and Ara have been approved under JNNURM and the corresponding work is going on.
What are the major infrastructure projects in the state being undertaken by Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo) at present?
BUIDCo works on assignments pertaining to all departments of the Bihar government or any other agency through the urban development department or directly. At present, BUIDCo is working on solid waste management schemes in Patna, Danapur Nizamat, Khagaul, Phulwarisharif and Ara and water supply schemes in Patna, Danapur Nizamat, Khagaul, Phulwarisharif, Bodhgaya and Muzaffarpur. The corporation is also working on sewerage treatment scheme in Rajgir, Bodhgaya, Begusarai, Buxar, Hajipur and Munger among other cities. BUIDCo has also been entrusted with the responsibility of preparing the detailed project reports for water supply and sewerage treatment schemes for 40 towns in the state.
About Prem Kumar
Prem Kumar was born on August 5, 1955, at Makhlautganj village in Gaya district. His father, Narayan Ram, was into government service. Prem did his masters in history and also earned a bachelor degree in law. He did his PhD in history in 1995 from Magadh University. An active worker of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Prem started his political career during the JP Movement in 1974. He was arrested during Emergency and lodged in Nawada and Gaya jails. Kumar has been a member of Bihar Legislative Assembly since 1990 from Gaya. Prem, who currently holds the urban development and housing portfolio, has served as public health and engineering and road construction ministers. Earlier, he was the chief whip of the JD(U) in the Lower House when the party was in opposition.
What would you have been if not a politician?
I would have been a journalist, as it is the profession that keeps one updated and informed. Besides, it gives you an opportunity to serve society.
Metro or mono rail?
What about the Patna Integrated Mass Rapid Transport System and is there any chance of the capital getting a Metro rail?
Our department is serious about developing an urban mass rapid transit system for the state capital. The decision to invite tenders to prepare the detailed project report for the project would be taken after studying the feasibility reports for monorail corridors prepared by Rites Limited, an agency of Indian Railways. We have kept our options open for both mono as well as Metro rail. The corresponding detailed project report would come up with the most feasible option between the two. The department has also issued purchase order for 30 standard buses for Bodhgaya to the state transport department. It has proposed to issue purchase order for
another 100 (70 non-AC and 30 AC) semi low-floor and low-floor buses for Patna to the transport department.