You have to build another seven new Mumbai’s by the next 12 years!
There is a new urgency and a confidence among the ministers of the Prime Minister’s team. Every minister is supposed to announce their favourite targets.
The first to come and the first to withdraw were Veerappa Moily and Kapil Sibal. The gay rights won partially from a high court verdict and Moily quietly withdrew. The new law will now come after deliberations and getting a consensus opinion. Kapil Sibal, the Sibal the sweet, smooth and smiling, also did the same, he announced the 10th exam as an option and once voices of dissent came from the states he fell silent.
As for the other ministers, it is Pranab Mukerjee who won the day, it seems. His all-populist, all-spending, no investment and no reforms budget first invited acclaim as on cue from the supposed corporate faces and later, slowly now ,there seems skepticism seems setting in.
After all, how can a government can budget without taxes or investment strategies.
What Mukerjee has got by way of disinvestment and FDI on which his predecessors, the growth-mania men after all rested on their laurels.
Now, you say everything will be worked out by consulting the stake-holders.
Who are the stake-holders, the biggest and the largest, except the poor, the farmers and the mass of villagers who just can’t live on your daily wages you have promised through your rural employment schemes.
You see, the supposed wiseman, that you need some plans, institutions and the road map to put your money. You can’t just stand in the open and throw away the funds, right?
You see the major schemes announced before and see what progress we have made.
The urban renewal mission, the JNNURM.
Simply, you are not able to spend the money! What an irony!
Kamalnath, the new minister for national highways wants to build 20 km of national highways everyday. What a fantastic target! It would be a miracle if he just achieves half the target.
Likewise other big ticket schemes.
Urban mission is the real mission in all the big vision schemes, it seems.
You have to budget for an urban expansion the scale of which is mind-boggling.
India’s urban population is projected to go up by around 100 million in the next 12 years. That means what you know?
You have to build and create urban space and urban infrastructure facilities equivalent to at least seven new Mumbais! Is this possible at all?
That is the projections anyway.
Now, the allocations under the JNNURM the funds utilisation is a dismal record. Four of the seven years has run its course. Just about a third of the central funds are utilised. For instance, AP was allotted 2014.93 crores and yet on date AP had utilised only Rs.876.56 crores.Maharashtra:Rs.5048.65 crores, utilisation Rs.2214.58 crores. And so on.
After three years when the schemes seem to end ,only 32 out of 463 projects seem to likely to be completed.
There is a separate urban development ministry and the burden of making the ministry a success rests with a host of agencies and individuals.
JNNURM was started on Dec.3,2005,for seven years. With a total planned investment of Rs.one lakh crores.50 per cent of the funds is from the Centre, the states and the local bodies are to share the rest.
It is here we come up with the lack of knowledge and the vision needed to conceptualise and execute such a gigantic projects.
Under the UPA, be it I or II, there is complete lack of any imagination to lead the country on a systematic vision.
You are not leaders capable of taking your responsibilities seriously and with great sense of a mission.
You just have to visit the ministries, meet the ministers concerned, all smooth, silken-like environment, so many of the ideal heads nod everywhere you turn, you wait for more than a day in New Delhi(nobody bothers to take into the cost of living in the capital, after travelling, mostly by flight and put up on star-like hotel or guest houses)and these worthies make you take your job lightly.
Then, when the big worthy, the minister actually materialises before you, you just see all smiles and courtesies, the minister doesn’t even have the power to call the secretary or secretaries. There is a well-understood and well-observed hierarchies within hierarchies and after the usual rounds, you return home and you have to forget to hear from the capital city!
There is(when the previous UPA was in office)bribe-giving and bribe taking ceremonies too!
If you are not a high corporate lobby man, it is small mercy if you can manage to passion the small sums quietly and come the next day to collect your signed papers!
So, what impressions you get from the Manmohan Sing II regime?
Radical change in the mindset because of the mandate? Or, the more strengthened hands of the bureaucrats? And for god’s sake, you also started giving extensions to the retired hands you have hired.
There is no fire and energy left out in the old hands.
The new government might have got the mandate of the people.
But what the mandate means unless you feel within your own inner conscience the reward came to you by the mercy of you being the humble servant of the court!
So, there is every reason to believe that most projects, be they the mega infrastructure or the small ones, all need to be driven through some well-structured institutions and there is always the PPP model, as far as we are concerned.
The local bodies, the panchayat raj and the states are not all the same.
There are good states, well-governened states and the ill-governed states.
After all, politics has become the big business, and to recall our Kamalnath, he realised that eh needs some 80 or odd very good contractors to execute his ambitious schemes. But he finds there are only 28 such contractors and among them 12 are in fact the new MPs among them.
So Nath wonders: whether it helps the MPs to become contractors or being high profile contractors helps them to become MPs.
So, there is one more dimension to our MPs!
We have to of course identify and nurture and train and deploy high quality contractors.
As we write the two major accidents at the Delhi Metro Railway has caused great dismay and the one contractor’s name that came up for adverse comment in the Delhi and the hyderabad, mishapes caused further dismay.
And to abolish the urban slums in the next five years?
That is another gigantic task, almost near-impossible task indeed.
One way to ease the pressure on the metros is to build and development more new cities and towns.
Yes, all great ideas are old ideas only.
We once talked of the satellite towns.
Why, even the rural housing schemes are as good as any and they cry for attention.
Every village, major and minor ones need extensions and new colonies. Rural roads are no less urgent and they too need good contractors. We see in some states the rural roads are quality-built ,in others the quality id dismal.
When the roads and communications links are developed half the development of rural India is achieved.
There is a great deal of new thinking on building urban infrastructure, running the urban management councils and in a city like Bangalore many new innovative approaches were tried. The World Bank too came there and studied the urban governing councils and yes, there is the fund of knowledge and inputs from the World Bank how to go about the urban development issues, urban transport, sanitation, waste disposal and pollution control etc.
It is all about leadership, vision and determination and motivation.
Let us hope the new ministers demonstrate their skills and show us the way forward.
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