A report published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology suggests that babies of...
Yes, the happening and looming threat of the loss of Bio-cultural diversity stares us in the face. This is particularly true...
You are right. Even the recipe is messed up. What happened to turmeric, chilli and corriander powder? And the oh-so-important...
All these projects are in four states -- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Urban planners and environmentalists claim that this is nothing short of catastrophic since greater water supply means more wastewater and sewage, and none of the recipient cities are equipped to handle increased sewage load. "There is no doubt about the fact that present jnnurm funds will increase serious environmental problems. Contractors will build huge infrastructure, possibly on city's natural drainage system, with easy line of credit. Worst affected will be the poor who will be forced to occupy increasingly marginal land," says Solomon Benjamin, a Bangalore-based independent urban policy researcher.
But Rajamani claims enough precautions are being taken while sanctioning projects. "It is the duty of the state governments to prioritise their projects, which have then to be cleared by a designated state-level nodal agency. Preparation of project reports is ensuring a holistic view. Still while signing the moa, the Centre checks with the state if its basic services are met and the status of other projects. It is expected that sewerage and water supply projects go hand in hand," he adds. And that is what is not happening at the field level.
All the projects sanctioned for transport are flyover projects with a total cost of Rs 14,756 crore. This is definitely not in keeping with the national urban transport policy, which promotes public transport. Rajamani acknowledges that flyovers alone cannot solve a city's transport problems. "It is just the beginning of jnnurm. We are learning by doing. Initially we were in a hurry to sanction some projects by March 31. Hence, some flyover projects got cleared. But now the mission directorate has become very strict and in its last meeting a decision was taken that no more flyovers would be cleared. We have demanded integrated transport plans that are in keeping with the national urban transport policy," he adds.
Shockingly, the Centre has also cleared projects, such as a "pipeline from Narmada main canal to Kotarpur water treatment plant" in Ahmedabad, that are illegal. Along with two more projects, the total cost of the project is Rs 5,383.25 crore of which Rs 300 crore have already been sanctioned by the Centre. Narmada canal's water is not meant for the city of Ahmedabad, but for irrigation in parts of Kutch and Rajasthan. Since the canal network is not complete, the government is diverting water to Ahmedabad, which experts claim is completely illegal.
On being questioned, a senior government official said: "In case it is an illegal project then why not change the statute and the Constitution of India? Such minor issues should be ignored."Asks Vinay Baindur, a Bangalore-based independent urban governance expert, "If there was a need for amending the Constitution why was the proper way not followed?"
Clearly, jnnurm lacks an effective mechanism for vetting projects before clearing them. All the 23 infrastructure projects were cleared and money released on March 29, just two days before the deadline. niua and nipfp worked against time to study and clear projects, all from their Delhi office. "Appraisers have been directed to sit in their offices along with tool-kits and clear cdps. If they wish to visit cities, municipalities have to fund their trip. Which municipality will have the funds to invite reviewers from the Centre to find faults with their cdps?" questions an urban planner who has been hired to review cdps in jnnurm's second phase. Appraisers claim they did invite some ulb representatives to Delhi for consultation, but that was for a separate project.
Take Vijaywada, which has got two projects worth Rs 9,204 crore cleared under jnnurm. These projects include providing water and sewerage systems. In its cdp, it has identified investment worth Rs 7,300 crore of which the Centre's share is Rs 3,650 crore. But as niua mentions in a report, "There are no comprehensive master plans in the water supply and sewerage sectors. Supporting data is not presented in cdp." Though Vijaywada has only 30 per cent, 60 per cent and 70 per cent sewerage, drainage and water supply coverage respectively, it has demanded maximum funds (about 35 per cent) for a light rail project and 8 per cent for sewerage. The Centre has also cleared projects for water supply and drainage but none on sewerage. Hyderabad is a similar case (see box: Hyderabad blues).
Some cities have proposed interesting projects in their cdps, but they have not made it to jnnurm. For instance, the Surat Municipal Corporation (smc) proposed sewerage projects worth Rs 291 crore, of which two projects included sewage gas-based power plants at four places for Rs 32 crore; and a common effluent treatment plant (cetp) for Rs 72 crore. It also proposed a tertiary treatment plant for Rs 25 crore. But they "are not eligible", because they should be "taken up by the concerned industries or moef and not proposed under jnnurm" according to existing parameters.
Barse has taken up the matter of these poorly planned projects under jnnurm at the highest level by writing to the prime minister on July 7. In the letter she says, "The most objectionable aspect of jnnurm is that it completely ignores the crisis of global warming and water supply depletion, both caused by bad planning. The fresh water situation in the world and India specifically is critical. undp assesses that by 2018 India will be a water-stressed country and by 2050 in irreversible crisis.... jnnurm should mandate protection of surface and ground water and prevention of global warming as first principles and parameters around which to plan cdps...".
Bad planning is not an accident; it is part of a policy framework that deliberately excludes elected local bodies and the urban poor to satisfy the needs of the elites through private sector participation.