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State focus on urban growth

Patna, Sept. 14: Senior functionaries in the urban development and housing department today outlined recent steps taken by the state government to attract private sector investment in larger towns and cities by chalking out city business plans for some of the major towns.

The functionaries were speaking at a daylong workshop on “Developing urban economies of Bihar” organised by the UK Department for International Development (DFID)-supported programme for urban reforms in collaboration with the Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) and International Growth Center, UK, in the capital.

During the event, urban development and housing minister Prem Kumar said the economic growth of a country and a state largely depends on the economic growth of its cities and towns and the government was keen on improving the financial health of its towns.

The department has recently engaged Delhi-based Consultants and Technocrats Private Limited for drawing up the city business plans for the four urban local bodies — Patna Municipal Corporation, Danapur, Phulwarisharif and Khagaul municipal councils — to boost micro-, small- and medium-scale industries and create employment opportunities.

The firm was asked to draft the business plan for the potential in healthcare, synthetic leather, printing and steel fabrication sectors.

The state also plans to seek grants from the Centre for execution of the initiatives.

ADRI director Shaibal Gupta said the business climate in Bihar, particularly the law and order situation, has improved in the past few years. “However, inadequate private sector investment orientation of local governments, inadequate infrastructure, particularly power, skill gaps and high transaction costs of running business remain some of the challenges to increased investments in the state,” Gupta added.

Gupta said: “Cities with better developed urban local economies have consciously devised strategies that contribute to impr- oved governance and productivity.”

Urban development and housing department secretary S. Siddartha said the government had initiated reforms for improving governance, strengthening the municipal finance base, improving municipal infrastructure, improving slums and livelihood of urban poor at multiple levels.