The Telegraph
Wednesday , February 5 , 2014
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Traffic present tense, future plan-perfect
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Undeterred by Jharkhand’s poor show in executing projects since 2000, the Hemant Soren-led state government has embarked upon a futuristic transport initiative, but one that would prove a boon for the masses if implemented well.

The state urban development department is “pooling resources” to chalk out a “comprehensive mobility plan (CMP)” for all districts.

“It is a detailed study on road and transport system, taking into account the current situation and future growth. The plan is being framed keeping in mind traffic increase in the next 20 years,” state urban development secretary A.K. Singh said.

Singh was speaking at the four-day “capacity-building programme on urban transport for state officials”, the 9th edition of which started in Ranchi on Tuesday.

Held at the capital’s Administrative Training Institute (ATI), opposite Suchana Bhavan, Kanke Road, the inaugural day saw the presence of ATI director general A.K. Pandey, transport-cum-civil aviation secretary Sajal Chakraborty and others.

Singh told transport officials present at the event that the Centre had made it clear that state requests for support for flyovers, road-widening and mass rapid transit systems would not be entertained unless they were part of the CMP.

“All places with a population of over a lakh must have a mobility plan in place in compliance with national urban transport policy. A state wouldn’t be able to avail central funds under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for projects related to urban transportation without the CMP,” Singh said.

He said the focus of the mobility plan would be to find specific solutions with stress on mass public transport. As rising travel demands have resulted in an unmanageable number of private vehicles, priority will be given to pedestrians, non-motorised and public transport systems.

In addition, for places with 10-lakh-plus population, a unified urban transport authority will be formed to take decisions and execute activities related to mobility schemes.

“We are aiming to complete the two ambitious projects soon,” Singh said.

In Jharkhand, most schemes announced by the urban department are yet to see the light of day.

Some oft-mentioned schemes in limbo include Transport Nagar, institutionalisation of public transport system, comprehensive sewerage and drainage for the capital and the new Ranchi master plan.

On them, Singh said: “Urban development or transport department can’t do anything alone. These projects need multidisciplinary effort and co-ordination from all departments and stakeholders.”

A big reason why development schemes fail to get off the ground is state officials here aren’t capable of accurately assessing their viability or feasibility, Singh pointed out.

“As department officials lack skills, private consultants rule the roost. Department officials can’t even evaluate if plans drafted by private firms are worth the hefty amounts named,” agreed K.P. Subramanian, an expert appointed by the Centre to coach state officials at the workshop.

He said the four-day meet would train officials of inter-linked departments such as urban, transport and road, on how to draft development plans in a coordinated way.

“We will tell them how to pick, plan and implement transport and urban schemes, as well as see to cash aspects. Most crucial, we will tell them how to make them environmentally sustainable,” he said.

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