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Capital misses top 10 club in urban renewal report

Out of 23 sanctioned projects, 14 in limbo

IT SHOULD have been ' Meri Dilli Meri Shn' by now, but it isn't. The Capital is not even in the top 10 list of states with "exemplary'' cities, according to the report card on the United Progressive Alliance government's urban flagship program-- the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

The latest JNNURM report card, the last before it came to an end on March 31, 2014, puts Delhi at number 11 in the list of states covered by the initiative.

Delhi is thus placed lower than urban centres in Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

The legacy of three- time chief minister and now Governor of Kerala Sheila Dikshit stands considerably tarnished by the report, considering that building and developing modern Delhi has been touted as one of her major achievements.

The Capital, which has maintained a poor show all through the JNNURM (2005- 12), with poor program implementation, shoddy workmanship, including those related to the 2012 Comonwealth Games, and incomplete proposals leading to fund cuts at the last minute, has kept the bad show going through the initiative. Delhi was deprived of nearly 60 per cent of the funds under Additional Central Assistance (ACA) by Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) in 2013- 14, the final phase of JNNURM. "As against nearly ` 2,400 crore sanctioned from MoUD to Delhi, only ` 1,100 crore were released as the Capital showed little results on past projects to claim the ACA,'' says a senior Union Urban Development Ministry official. In fact, the latest report points out that of the 23 sanctioned projects, only nine have been completed and 14 are still in a "state of limbo''. Most of these hanging projects relate to power, water and sewerage-- all critical issues in Delhi.

The Capital has done no better in the past either. The 2012 JNNURM report says that Delhi managed to spend just ` 630 crore on four projects out of the ` 7,200 crore sanctioned for 28 projects.

Delhi was then slammed by the MoUD for not even having enough professional expertise to make detailed projects reports to avail allocated funds during 2008- 09 ahead of Commonwealth Games 2010. According to the 2012 JNNURM report then, the city had failed to utilise an allocated ` 6,000 crore for urban programmes.

Instead, it had only got ` 22 crore then for development of Connaught Place. That, as is well known, turned into a showpiece of sloth and sloppiness.

At the closure of the program in 2014, Delhi has failed to learn from its mistakes and has done little to score in the areas of "urban governance, service delivery, municipal bodies and creation of urban infrastructure assets for improving water and sewerage conditions in the city, hence the low ranking.'' Reacting to the JNNURM report, a senior Delhi government official admitted, "We may have built flyovers and roads, though failed to improve traffic situation still... but we missed on adding any more significant water plant after Sonia Vihar or declogging half of the sewers which are the main reasons for the regular flooding of our roads with even minor showers. The residents were not impressed by the roads and fly- overs the Dikshit government made, and taught it a lesson in the last Assembly elections.'' Incidentally, the JNNURM report comes at a time when Delhi is reeling under a severe water and power crisis. Had the money allocated under JNNURM's urban renewal programs been utilised on time with a plan to augment supplies and energy resources, the current civic crisis could have been averted or largely mitigated.

Adding to Delhi's humiliation is the fact that "the allocations proposed for Capital projects in 2013- 14 were no less than the states topping the list (see table)." The report clearly points at "lack of intellectual capital in drafting proposals and its final execution''. Reforms in municipal governance are a cause of worry as there is "complete lack of structured training modules both at the induction level and through the different stages of service. There is little in the name of upgradation of skills at lower level for Municipal staff,'' said a senior MoUD official on condition of anonymity.

JNNURM, which started in 2005- 06, completed its first phase on March 31, 2012 and the states which lagged behind in projects implementation were given two more years to complete the work. It was hoped that Delhi would complete pending projects and claim most of the funds allocated, but it failed to make any headway and is far behind other states -- Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka -- which have shown alacrity in utilising JNNURM funds.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 19, 2014
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