JNNURM expansion plan does not enthuse local bodies
6 Jul 2009, 0148 hrs IST, TNN
VIJAYAWADA: Union urban development minister S Jaipal Reddy’s decision to increase the coverage of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) programme has not enthused the local bodies in the state in spite of the fact that the Centre will generously fund the developmental programmes in the towns.
For, the fund-starving state government’s decision to convert its share into loan has dampened the hopes of growing towns to get listed under the JNNURM. The state government’s move has already created tremors in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam local bodies which were part of JNNURM phase I programme as it led to a huge financial burden on these civic bodies.
The government had not only slashed its share of grant from 20 to 2 per cent but also financed the 18 per cent as loan with huge rate of interest. As per the original scheme, the Centre would extend 50 per cent of the total fund as complete grant and directed the state government and urban local body to share the remaining 50 per cent.
With a view to cornering maximum funds under the scheme, the state government too had agreed to give 20 per cent as grant and left the urban bodies to take the remaining 30 per cent load. “We thought that the scheme will provide a major relief even if we needed to pool up 30 per cent funds from our sources. But, backtracking by the state government will hurt the local bodies,” observed senior Congress corporator Anne Prasanna.
Stung by the development, Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal has promised to take a delegation from the civic body to the chief minister to discuss the issue as the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) has to additionally garner funds to the tune of Rs 600 crore to complete the schemes. Initially, many civic bodies of big towns like Guntur, Kurnool, Warangal and Rajahmundry cried foul when only Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada from the state were selected for the programme taking the 10 lakh population as the main criteria.
The public representatives in Guntur have even criticised the way the neighbouring Vijayawada bagged the programme by including Mangalagiri town located in the Guntur district to inflate its population to 10 lakh. Curiously, these civic bodies responded cautiously when Jaipal Reddy brought an amendment to population criteria by reducing it to five lakh to enable more towns and cities to take advantage of the programme as part of his 100-day action plan.
According to sources, several corporations, including Kadapa, Nizamabad, Elur, Kakinada and Nellore, which have population between 3 and 4 lakhs, too could send their proposals by extending the programmes to more suburban areas to make the population cross five lakh. “We wanted to study the guidelines and also the implementation before going for funding,” said Guntur mayor Rayapati Saimohan Krishna.