New look for seven Indian cities

Published: Sunday 15 September 2002

-- (Credit: Kumar)spurred by the success of the Taj eco-city project -- which includes an area of around 30 square kilometres around the Taj Mahal -- the Union ministry of environment and forests (mef) has launched a similar programme for other cities in the country. The programme has been allocated Rs 30 crore in the 10th five-year plan with a view to improving the living conditions in select cities.

While 10 cities have been identified under the project, seven will make it to the final list. The chosen few are: Mathura-Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Puri in Orissa, Vapi in Gujarat, Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu, Bharatpur in Rajasthan, Rishikesh in Uttaranchal, Shillong in Meghalaya and Baidyanathdham in Jharkhand.

The selection was made on account of poor sanitary and living conditions, inadequate infrastructure, pollution and unplanned development. The project was launched at a meeting in New Delhi, attended by heads of municipalities of the selected cities.

Finances for the project will be provided through a well-organised public-private partnership, wherein the government, private businesses and civil society groups will pool their resources and skills. Technical assistance for the project will be provided by the German Agency for Technical Co-operation. The Centre for Spatial Environmental Planning (csep) of the Central Pollution Control Board (cpcb) will implement the project.

According to N Raghu Babu, project leader at the csep, the eco-cities plan was conceptualised after the success of the environmental management plan (emp) conducted by the cpcb in Kanpur in 1996. A similar emp study was conducted in Agra in 2000, wherein the authorities planned to create a Taj eco-city.

Encouraged by the concept and response to the project, the mef decided to extend the idea to small and medium cities. In July 2001, 10 cities were identified. The Kottayam-Kumarakom region in Kerala was chosen as the first trial project. "Our plan is to tackle infrastructure development issues such as parks, parking spaces and construction of waste disposal sites," says Babu.

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