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Punjab-UT standoff on Nayagaon plan

Though the Chandigarh Administration has finally raised serious objections to the Nayagaon masterplan in a letter to the Punjab government,the latter seems to be in no mood to make amends to the plan notified in January this year.

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Chandigarh |
March 20, 2009 11:49:41 pm

Though the Chandigarh Administration has finally raised serious objections to the Nayagaon masterplan in a letter to the Punjab government,the latter seems to be in no mood to make amends to the plan notified in January this year.

High-rise buildings
Despite Punjab’s own draft plan highlighting Kansal as an ecologically and tectonically fragile (prone to earthquakes) area and Chandigarh Administration demanding restrictions on height of buildings for the entire area and not just the area lying within a kilometre of the Capitol Complex,Punjab is willing to make an exception for just a kilometre and not more. So while buildings within that radius will have a height restriction of 15 metres,there will be no restriction in the rest of Kansal where the vertical growth of buildings would be decided as per the formula of the National Building Code of 1.5 times road width and setback.

Connectivity
Connectivity and access through Chandigarh is another issue of contention between Punjab and UT. A strip of land will be required through Khuda Ali Sher village for integration of planning and services of Kansal with the other two villages of Nayagaon — Karoran and Nada. Punjab has requested the UT Administration for construction of 30-metre-wide road through Khuda Ali Sher and widening other roads. But Chandigarh has refused to oblige.
Stating that the UT cannot deny cooperation on improving Nayagaon’s connectivity,Manoranjan Kalia,Minister for Punjab’s Local Government Department,which has prepared the masterplan,said Punjab and Chandigarh are inter-dependent and UT also has its sewerage system and access roads through Punjab. “Improving connectivity is a part of the development process and so are high-rises. When Le Corbusier planned the city,he could not have imagined the kind of development which will take place here in future. It is not fair to ask Punjab not to allow high-rises in Kansal just because it is the backdrop of Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex,” asserts Kalia.

Opposition within Punjab
Notably,there was stiff opposition to the master plan even within the Punjab government with its Urban Planning Department,under the preview of which drafting of master plans falls,refusing to sign on the draft plan which was cleared in a meeting of the Punjab Regional,Town Planning and Development Board chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on December 2,2008. But the Local Government department had contended at the meeting that objections relating to Chandigarh such as sanctity of Capitol Complex and the fragile ecology of the area,including Sukhna Lake,have been taken care of and there was also no need to place the master plan for approval before the coordination committee constituted by the Government of India as the issue relates to policy matter regarding all towns in the periphery and Nayagaon cannot be isolated.

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Influential stakeholders
The masterplan is also courting controversy owing to the stake of many influential persons in Kansal,including politicians and developers. Tata Housing,which has bought land belonging to a Punjab MLAs’ society for its proposed 52-acre multi-storey project in Kansal,also plans to develop high-rise apartments. Notably,the MLAs are yet to receive the full amount of compensation from Tatas besides an apartment when the project comes up. It is also reliably learnt that Tatas would have to provide four to five acre of land to the local civic body for utility services such as waterworks and roads,reasons why the company is said to be waiting for the detailed zoning plan before submitting its final building plan.

Infrastructure development
The issue of planned infrastructure development is another grey area. Already,80 per cent of Karoran village,40 per cent of Kansal and 20 per cent of Nada village are under occupation and not much area is available for planned growth. Though the masterplan has been prepared through total station survey and satellite imageries to assess the built-up and vacant pockets in Kansal,Nada and Karoran,there are serious doubts relating to feasibility of the masterplan on ground. Also,infrastructure development of Nayagaon will entail an expense of Rs 450 crore,which the government aims to generate through infrastructure development charges of Rs 1.05 crore per acre for commercial projects and Rs 35 lakh for group housing and plotted colonies.

‘We should accommodate Tatas’

Though Tata Housing is yet to submit a detailed building plan to the Local Government department,Punjab is in no mood to spoil their first investment in the state. “We must accommodate the Tatas as it will help boost Punjab’s economy,” says Manoranjan Kalia,Minister for Punjab’s Local Government Department. Referring to West Bengal’s loss and Gujarat’s gain on Tata’s Nano car plant,he added that the Nano project had come to Punjab but went back because its demands were not accommodated. “We should not make the same mistake again,” he added.

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