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For a model ring road, look to Modi’s Surat

New Delhi, Feb. 3: States should build ring roads around their cities, the Centre has said, citing the example of Surat in Narendra Modi-ruled Gujarat in pushing for such projects to ease traffic travails.

If the model is followed, states will not have to dip into their strained finances for the ring roads that will be self-financing through a mix of land acquisition and real estate development of the kind adopted by the Surat civic body.

The idea has come in the form of an advisory from the urban development ministry and is aimed at most Indian cities that have developed in a “radial” way —from the centre to the edges similar to a hub-and-spoke arrangement.

“There is a need to provide a ring road in every city in such a way that planned development can take place and the road is a self-sustainable project,” urban development ministry secretary Sudhir Krishna said in a letter to state governments last week.

“No model can be replicated in other cities of India due to demographic political, business and cultural differences but we can always learn from the experience of others to draft a city-specific financial model.”

In the absence of a ring road, traffic between points on the edges of a city, and even inter-city traffic in some zones, must pass through the centre, clogging the arteries.

The model assumes added significance for Calcutta, which does not have a ring road that circles the city in all four directions.

The Bengal capital, reeling from lack of funds for new projects, could look for answers in Surat. The Gujarat town’s municipal corporation, run by the ruling BJP, generated much of the Rs 5,000 crore for the ring road through sale of commercial properties along the 66km artery. It acquired land, developed infrastructure and returned 60 per cent of each owner’s plot to them.

Of the remaining 40 per cent, 20 per cent was used for the road, kept 90 metres wide to ensure it can handle the anticipated heavy traffic.

In the other 20 per cent, 10-15 per cent of the land along the road was sold to developers for residential, commercial and industrial use.

The remaining 5 per cent was used by the civic body to build parks, playgrounds and social infrastructure like schools and dispensaries. The facilities drove up the land prices.

The landowners got compensation for the 40 per cent they had to part with at below-market rates, but gained from having got back the rest of their plots, developed and topped up with basics. The other spin-off was the increase in prices fuelled by the facilities.