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Civic dreams choke on vision

Big dreams, distant reality.

Patna’s tryst with ambitious civic projects to lend it the look of a metropolis have been stuck in a time warp, the alleged culprits being red tape and indecisiveness.

Public sector housing schemes, a world-class museum and parks, are apparently stuck in various official bottlenecks from the outset.

In January this year, the state cabinet approved the selection of Japan-based Maki & Associates and its Indian partner, Opolis, as the consultant architect for the proposed New Patliputra Museum to be developed on Bailey Road. However, the building construction department, the nodal department for the project, has not been able to float the tender for the first phase of construction till date, apparently because it did not consult the owners of the land on which the museum set to come up.

Manoj Singh, the chaplain of Bankipore Christ Church, whose bungalow is located adjacent to the institute, recently filed a petition in Patna High Court challenging the acquisition of land which is a part of his property. Department minister Damodar Raut told The Telegraph: “The execution on the international museum project has been stalled as the chaplain has refused to let go his land and has filed a case.”

The department proposed to start building the museum this year and finish it by 2015.

Similarly, the urban development department had submitted the detailed project report (DPR) for Patna Ganga River Front Development Project in January 2010 to the ministry of environment and forests. However, the project is awaiting approval till date. “The riverfront development project is under the ambit of the National Ganga River Basin Authority, a World Bank-funded scheme. The project’s environmental and social assessment is underway according to the criteria of the World Bank prior to its sanctioning,” said a department official, preferring anonymity.

Futile attempts have been made to break the monopoly of private builders/developers in the state capital. A modern urban centre at Gardanibagh and a residential development scheme of Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) at Kankerbagh and Lohianagar have been unable to get the cabinet’s clearance for over a year.

“The proposal for developing a modern urban centre at Gardanibagh was rejected by the state cabinet last year. Later, the department sent the project file with modifications to the chief minister thrice but it was not approved. Recently, we have again sent a fresh proposal to the cabinet,” said minister Raut. Sources said the project may be completed in 18-24 months after the cabinet approval.

Former chief secretary Navin Kumar returned BSHB’s proposal to develop around 10,000 new flats in the city with several remarks. BSHB had issued an expression of interest in May, 2011 for this project and the finance department cleared it in the first week of March this year. “Somehow the master plan that contained the corresponding DPR and the methodology to be adopted for rehabilitation of the existing occupants was not sent, along with the proposal, to the chief secretary. The department is soon going to send a fresh file to the new chief secretary before being tabled before the state cabinet for final nod,” said an urban development department official, preferring anonymity.

Housing projects are to be complimented by state-of-the-art public spaces in the city. The project of developing Shaheed Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park on Hardinge Road did not receive a single bid. Subsequently, Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation quashed the public-private partnership mode of execution and decided to execute it on contractual basis.