No excuses, Pune now firmly on road to renewal
But access to NURM funds also means PMC must reform itself. Is it up to the
Pune, April 29: IN the past, whenever we have pointed at the city’s tardy
infrastructure, the response from the powers that be has always been that
there’s not enough funds to take on the huge task. Now, for a change, city
officials can’t give the excuse of money — or the lack of it — because there
isn’t a crunch in sight. While the city is bound to benefit from the 2008
Commonwealth Youth Games — the Pune Municipal Corporation alone has drawn up
a Rs 490 crore plan — it now will also have access to the Jawaharlal Nehru
National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) fund.
So, what is the status of Pune vis-a-vis JNNURM?
`Final CDP, first fund in May’
The PMC is putting together the final version of the City Development Plan —
cities have to submit a CDP to be eligible for grant assistance under
JNNURM — together with consultant and rating agency CRISIL and stakeholders,
including citizens and activists, which will be submitted to the National
Institute of Finance Policy and Planning by the second week of May. ‘‘But
this doesn’t hamper anything. The NIFPP has already appraised the first
draft of the CDP and has said that our projects may be considered for
approval,’’ said PMC commissioner Nitin Kareer.
The final CDP report will also include separate investment plans for Pimpri
Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and Pune Cantonment Board areas.
As it turns out, Pune missed out on the first tranche of funds released by
the Centre on March 31. ‘‘The NIFPP had sought some clarifications on our
timeline for implementing urban sector reforms (another essential element to
avail of the funds) and we have sent them. Now, funds should be released the
next time an approval meeting is held in Delhi,’’ Kareer added. The PMC
chief expects a meeting to be held this week itself.
The proposal sent to the Centre on March 2 includes a Rs 1,951 crore road
improvement project, which includes widening of 50 existing roads and
construction of 26 new ones, building four flyovers and 13 bridges and
subways, three tunnels and two elevated roads; a Rs 297.52 crore river
improvement project which includes a Rs 99.96 crore plan to construct drains
to prevent contamination of natural water bodies and a Rs 99.61 crore
proposal to renew and manage solid waste in the city; and a Rs 660 crore
slum rehabilitation project.
The main thrust of the urban renewal mission is to ensure improvement in
governance so that urban local bodies become financially sound. To begin
with, the PMC will have to reform property tax, which should be a major
source of revenue for the civic body. The rollback in the property tax hike
didn’t go down well with the Centre and the PMC had to clarify that it will
undertake property tax reforms by 2007. The PMC has said that it will
identify unassessed properties for tax collection and improve targets to 85
per cent in 2006-07.
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