At the Express Adda held in Mumbai last week, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, and economist and author Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, spoke about urban development, creating new cities and the need for enhancing local government bodies.
At the latest edition of Express Adda, presented by Yes Bank in association with India Infoline Finance Limited (IIFL), held at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai last week, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and economist and author Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia discussed cluster development, finding a balance between environment and development and the role of leaders. During a conversation with a select audience, moderated by Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief, The Express Group, Chavan and Ahluwalia spoke about the growing needs of major metropolises and creating social and physical infrastructure as well as economic opportunities for people.
On urbanisation and its challenges
Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia: The Bihar chief minister told me two years ago that when we convert a gram panchayat into a nagar panchayat, they come back and say they want to be a gram panchayat again because all the money is in rural development schemes. There are about 2,000 towns which the census has declared are ready to be nagar panchayats but there is political resistance to give them that statutory authority.
Prithviraj Chavan: Maharashtra has become almost 50 per cent urban today. We recently decided to convert 138 gram
panchayats into nagar palikas. People in Maharashtra want to get an urban governance structure instead of a gram panchayat structure.
Among the various challenges of urban development, there are about 14 lakh families staying in slums in Mumbai. There are problems of clean drinking water, sewage disposal, solid waste and mass transit. We have been successful in getting a few mass transit projects off the ground. We have the country’s first monorail, an Eastern freeway, a new airport terminal and a connector, and the city’s first Metro Rail will also be opened soon. More infrastructure projects in Mumbai are being built and more should come up. But we can’t keep having mass transit projects and expect people to commute for two hours. We need to build new townships nearby that are integrated with workplace, social infrastructure, and habitation so that people don’t have to commute, but can cycle or walk to work. That’s the only way to go.
On slum redevelopment
Prithviraj Chavan: The famous Slum Rehabilitation Authority scheme didn’t work well. The idea was people will get a free house, they will be relocated where they are on the same plot and it will be developed through a …continued »