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Crores later, govt’s urban mission limping: Plan panel

http://www.dnaindia.com/money/report_after-four-years-jawaharlal-nehru-national-urban-renewable-mission-is-a-flop_1362564
After four years Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission is a flop, and crores later, govt’s urban mission limping: Plan panel

Neeraj Thakur / DNA
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 2:22 IST

New Delhi: The ambitious Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) was meant to make cities like Mumbai into Shanghai, but that hasn’t happened even after four years and crores of money spent.

The Planning Commission’s mid-term appraisal on the flagship programme of the government said that the scheme has been a failure in terms of restructuring of state administration, a mandatory norm required to improve the implementation of infrastructure projects in cities.

“Though four years have passed, only some reforms have taken place. Many are still pending,” said the Planning Commission report. Only 10 states have transferred the 12th schedule of the Constitution. While only 20 states have constituted the district planning committees. The process of constituting Metropolitan Planning Committees has been completed by only 4 states.

“Most of the states, have failed to promote devolution of power and pushing local accountability reforms,” said a senior official of the Planning Commission.

In JNNURM, there are 65 mission cities that have to implement changes that reflect transparency in the system. Of these, only 13 have declared completion of e-governance set up and 30 have shifted to double entry accounting.

Only 13 states have transferred water supply and sanitation to district bodies.

The mid-term review also found that many of the tough reforms were pending in collection of property tax, water supply cost recovery, reform in rent control, transfer of city panning function.

While there is a demand from states to double planned expenditure for the scheme, the centre government said it has no more money left for the scheme.

The government’s flagship programme for urban development was launched in December 2005 with a commitment of Rs 50,000 crore to part-fund urban projects over a period of 7 years.

Fund release is tied to a governance reform agenda, which includes repeal of the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act, reform of rent control laws, rationalisation of stamp duty, levy of user charges and transfer of powers to urban local bodies (according to the 74th constitutional amendment).

The urban development ministry (UDM) said that the overall reforms progress under JNNURM has indicated so far that only 56% of state-level reforms committed till 4th year (2008-09) have been achieved, 50% of urban local bodies (ULB) level reforms and 57% of optional reforms committed have been achieved.

States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh have shown good progress in urban sector reforms.
“However, it is of concern that property taxes have been withdrawn in Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. The ministry has taken up this matter with state governments as it contravenes the spirit of JNNURM reforms,” an official in UDM said.

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India pays penalty for not utilising loans from lending agencies

India pays penalty for not utilising loans from lending agencies
22 Jun 2009, 0415 hrs IST, Pradeep Thakur, TNN

NEW DELHI: While India is negotiating more loans from the World Bank to fund infrastructure development and to upgrade urban transport, an internal assessment of the finance ministry has revealed that many of its past projects are running far behind schedule to the extent that the government has been paying commitment charges of several hundred crores every year.

In 2007-08 and 2008-09 alone, India paid Rs 240 crore as commitment charges for the non-disbursed portion of sanctioned loans to World Bank and other multilateral agencies such as Asian Development Bank (ADB) and some bilateral donors.

In the five years between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the government paid close to Rs 700 crore as commitment charges. An estimate of such expenditure since 1991 puts the figure upwards of Rs 1,400 crore.

Finance ministry sources said that till last year, there were 231 externally aided projects of which more than 40% were paying commitment charges. This indicates lack of coordination among different organs of the government with no check on timely implementation of development schemes.

Review of the ADB portfolio showed undisbursed loan amount having increased from $850 million in 1999 to $3.5 billion at the end of 2006. Fresh loans were negotiated even when the existing basket reflected huge under utilisation.

A finance ministry official said in the six years between 2001 and 2007, the government borrowed Rs 12,800 crore from ADB but on account of slow disbursal, it paid Rs 230 crore to the agency as commitment charges. An estimated 60% of World Bank and ADB loan portfolio are currently paying commitment charges.

It has been observed that many highway and power projects were pushed prematurely for additional World Bank funding even before they were ready, or even before the previous loans had become effective.

Commitment charges are a penalty on the recipient for its failure to utilise the committed aid. It is partly an indicator to assess the recipient government’s bureaucratic capacity of (loan) aid absorption and to measure the pipeline effect of the rate of utilisation of credit.

Questions have also been raised on the way the loans have been negotiated. In many cases, the government had bargained loans with commitment charges as high as 0.75% when the rate of interest in the international market hovered around 1%.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/India-pays-penalty-for-not-utilising-loans-from-lending-agencies/articleshow/4684437.cms

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SAME OLD reforms? again?!!

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/sunita-naraintime-to-be-different/360121/

Sunita Narain: A time to be different
Put the poor who have voted for this govt at the centre of reforms
Sunita Narain / New Delhi June 5, 2009, 0:43 IST

The new (old) government is back. The question is if it has learnt its most important lesson: How to join its political agenda to the agenda of government.

Let me explain. It was not the Indo-US nuclear deal which won the Congress Party the elections. It was the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which provided employment to people, gave them cash to survive drought or a flood. Similarly, it was not the ecstasy of the stock market, the opening of the retail sector or the grandiose special economic zones that won the day. This government was re-elected — as its leaders reminded people in their rallies — because it gave better prices to farmers, wrote off loans and gave tribals and other poor forest dwellers rights over their land.

In other words, it got elected for all the ‘wrong’ reasons, as the reformists put it. Now the reformists have already made it clear: They want to divorce politics from governance. They want ‘populist’ measures — good to win votes and rally people — out of the way. Already, corporate leaders have taken over the airwaves to hammer in the market reform agenda. People appear to have been forgotten already .

So are we in for another interregnum between elections when government will focus on the ‘real’ agenda of the corporate world and forget the issues that got it the votes? Or will this second-term government grow up and understand good politics is also good governance?

After all, this is a time the entire free-market loving world is learning greed is not so good, and that a corporate-driven agenda creates havoc. In these times, we also need a new growth model, driven by resilience and sustainability. This is a time to be different. Instead of focusing on past bankrupt ideas — disinvestment in the public sector; foreign direct investment in retail; privatisation of insurance, banks and pension funds — we can think of strategies that combine the needs of all with growth for all.

Take the example of the NREGS, dismissed as a corrupt, inefficient programme. The fact is that this scheme is no different from what the rich world is today re-discovering in the name of Keynesian public investment-driven recovery programmes. It invests public funds to create public assets with the labour of poor people. The opportunity lies in using such labour to build assets: Drought relief for relief against drought, for instance. Today, the NREGS is already the world’s biggest ecological regeneration effort — just under a million water bodies being dug, desilted or renovated by people. Now we must make sure these water bodies are not just holes in the ground, but will capture the next rain and recharge the aquifer.

It is possible. Doable. People’s desperation and demand for work, already recognised, must now be converted into a demand for development. People will use their labour to put their village regeneration plans in order and then build their own durable assets. This is not possible without giving people rights over their resources — their local forest and water resources. This is the ‘reform’ the top leadership must believe in and back.

Another big-ticket concern is dryland and rainfed agriculture. Most of India today, after years of independence and public investment in surface irrigation structures, remains dependent on increasingly variable rain. Today, our policies discount and destroy these local economies; tomorrow, our strategies must build on their strengths. For instance, fiscal policies must recognise crops that minimise the use of water — more crops per drop — and include ‘coarse’ cereals in the Public Distribution System (PDS). Simultaneously, we must build local water security to enhance productivity. We must do this not by increasing the cost of cultivation but by reducing costs and investing in resilience.

The third challenge is to invest in building employment opportunities for the future. But this will demand recognising jobs where we do not see they exist. Currently, all our policies push for organised business, in retail or in manufacturing. But we forget this business is not labour-intensive and tends to collapse like a pack of cards when the world sneezes. We need employment which is domestic, built on multiple opportunities and comprises millions of enterprises.

The next reform must be in education and health — reinvent ways to ensure the systems are efficient, but also affordable and accessible by all. We also know private investment will not flow into these sectors, which, being about the poor, are not profitable. So, we will have to do things differently, without dogma, but with the idea of reform for the poor who voted this government to power.

Postscript: Remember corporate India had anointed Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as their prime minister. They had dumped this government and its prime minister. This government is in power not because of them, but because of the blessings of the poor. This trust must be kept. It is time to be different

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Welcomes JNNURM official ‘window dressing’ FAIL

VMC welcomes JNNURM officials after ‘window dressing’ at housing sites

Sunday , Apr 19, 2009 at 0101 hrs

Vadodara : A team of officials from Delhi headquarters of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and state government officials paid a visit to the housing colonies developed by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) for urban poor.

According to VMC officials, the team arrived in the city on Saturday morning and visited three sites at Kisanwadi, Akota and Gadapura and left in the afternoon.

Although sources in the civic body maintained that the team was happy with the quality of the project and its fast implementation, the fact remains that the project, which was to be completed in 21 months after the work order was issued in 2007, kickstarted only in January 2008 and is still not completed.

“The officials first visited Ahmedabad and came to Vadodara and had a look at the progress. They were happy with the quality and speedy work of the housing colonies,” said a senior VMC official.

The Congress, however, said that the VMC officials are hiding the “real picture”.

“Work at the sites visited by the JNNURM officials have been delayed by several months. Even after almost two years, they have not been able to complete the construction work of the colonies. It is still uncertain when they would complete the same,” said Opposition leader Chirag Zaveri.

Admitting the delay, an official said: “Of the total 6,668 houses, work is going on 5,388 houses and only 1,000 houses are ready. After the work order was issued in 2007, work had actually begun in January 2008. It slowed down due to a steep rise in steel prices. Now, work has once again started and we are expecting it to be over soon.”

At Kisanwadi, local residents were surprised when VMC officials carried out window dressing on Wednesday evening.

“Since Wednesday, VMC officials were seen painting the walls and cleaning up the whole premises. We were unaware about why they were doing this. It was only late in the evening did we come to know about the visit. On Saturday, we were not allowed to meet the team or VMC officials, otherwise we would have represented our problems regarding the project,” said a resident in Kisanwadi.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/vmc-welcomes-jnnurm-officials-after-window-dressing-at-housing-sites/448675/0

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Anexxing more land in Outer coimbatore? No Thanks

Date:28/04/2008 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2008/04/28/stories/2008042855040300.htm
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Tamil Nadu – Coimbatore

Opposition to Corporation plan for city expansion

Special Correspondent
COIMBATORE: The Coimbatore Corporation’s plan for expanding the city area will be a retrograde measure as it will rob smaller local bodies such as panchayats of their powers for local self-governance, former legislator and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Coimbatore North District president M. Chinnarasu has said.

Reports
Referring to reports of the Corporation’s plan, Mr. Chinnarasu said in press release that it was improper to persuade municipalities, town panchayats and village panchayats to merge with the Corporation by telling them that they would get more funds for development if they were a part of a city corporation.

Funds
Schemes had been introduced by the erstwhile Vajpayee Government at the Centre (1999-2004) to facilitate greater flow of funds to panchayats for development. When such an opportunity for development was available for these local bodies, there was no need to lure them to join the Corporation, the statement said.

Merger
A merger with the Corporation was fraught with the risk of a huge financial burden for the people in the other local bodies.

The Corporation has embarked upon implementing infrastructure development schemes at Rs.3,186 crore under the Central Government’s Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

The Corporation was already in a position where it needed to impose huge taxes on the people, in order to repay the loans it had availed itself of for many schemes. It was also faced with the task of mobilising funds for more schemes.

Mission
On the Corporation’s promise of development in the suburbs, the statement alleged that the schemes under the mission were only being talked about and that there was no sign of implementation.

In village panchayats, the elected members were extremely familiar with the problems faced by individual residents. But, the Corporation remained out of bounds for many people.

The Corporation was yet to solve the problems faced by people in the newly regularised layouts. Besides, it had not yet found a solution to the problem of scarcity of drinking water.

When this was the case with the city, how could the Corporation solve problems faced by the suburbs, Mr. Chinnarasu asked

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Reclaiming Public Water India should follow

Paris mayor declares coming back to public service

Dear Friends,

We would like to share a very important victory against privatisation of water here in France: After months
of a quite hard discussion and lobbying between the “left”
parties, activist and the transnationals, the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë,
announces the “retour” to a unique public service for water as one of
the main goals of his new mandate; ( he will be very probably elected again in March 2008)

This is a big victory for our friends of “Eau de Paris” ( greens ) and public operators from Val de Marne ( communists ) and all NGOs that struggle for public water; This is also a quite symbolic victory against Suez and Veolia in his own land.
After being evasive concerning the renewal of the Suez
and Veolia contracts, finally the socialist mayor decided to choose clearly a position against the renewal of the two contracts, signed in 1985 by Chirac when he was mayor;

*******************************************************************
Le Monde , 7 november

” The mayor wants to take this historical opportunity
to take the entire control of the water management, that was partially led to private groups in 1985; (..) ‘ I would like to propose to Paris
habitants a public operator which guarantees the quality of water at an
affordable price’ (…)

‘ A single public owned operator that manages all the cycle of production and distribution of water’

“At the Paris council, the Green and the Communist party have been struggling for a long time to come back to public management. (…) Anne Le Strat, president of the Paris Water company, says she is satisfied with the mayor’s decision; ”

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Make 3 industrial hubs notified area

‘Make 3 industrial hubs notified area’
DH News Service, Bangalore:
Concerned about security in the wake of ghastly terror attacks in Mumbai, industries in Bangalore, especially IT and BT firms, on Saturday urged the State government to give a notified area tag to Electronic City, Whitefield and Peenya Industrial Area.

“We have asked the chief minister to declare these three places as notified area, to build confidence among entrepreneurs. The notified area should have controlled access and outsiders will not be allowed inside without a specific reason,” Infosys Director (Human Resources) T V Mohandas Pai told reporters.

He was speaking after attending a high-level meeting convened by CM B S Yeddyurappa with his Cabinet colleagues, top police officials and representatives of industries, to discuss steps to be taken to beef up internal security.

“People are apprehensive after the Mumbai attack. Moreover, business is suffering. Businessmen are refusing to come to Bangalore. There has been heavy cancellation of business meetings. We do not mind paying more tax, but provide us adequate security,” Pai further said, adding that the CM has responded positively to the request in this regard.

‘Amend Arms Act’

Earlier in the meeting, Pai said, amendment should be brought to the Arms Act and allow corporate companies to buy sophisticated weapons if the Government cannot ensure security. Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited Kiran Mazumdar Shaw said, “The security personnel in private companies cannot face terrorists who are armed with AK-47s.”

She was reacting to the CM’s statement in his opening remarks that not only the Government, but corporate companies should also step up their internal security. “Assurances and promises will not do anymore. It is the time to act. We need military patrolling on Bangalore roads. We need crack squad and anti-terrorist squad to deal firmly with terrorists,” she stated.

It is the fundamental duty of the Government to ensure security. The Government need to invest heavily on security.

“Bangalore is not at all prepared to face a Mumbai-like attack. It was due to lack of preparedness in Mumbai, there was heavy casualty,” she pointed out. Briefing the media after the meeting, Yeddyurappa said, the Government is taking all steps to ensure that a Mumbai-like incident does not occur in the State. He further said, all suggestions given by industries will be taken seriously.

Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa held a separate meeting with some of his Cabinet colleagues including RDPR Minister Shobha Karandlaje, IT and BT Minister Katta Subramanya Naidu, Labour Minister Bache Gowda, Industries Minister Murgesh Nirani and Minister for Municipal Administration S Suresh Kumar at his home office Krishna.
The CM is learnt to have directed his ministers to take all necessary steps to ensure safety to people.

Chief Minister’S TIPS

*Strengthen private security
*Provide special training to private security guards
*Install metal detector at the entrance
*Install luggage screening device
*Install CCTVs
*Verify passports of foreigners and keep a watch on their movement
*Provide necessary information to police

SUGGESTIONS

*Co-ordination between State police and companies’ private security in patrolling
*Set-up a rapid action force to face any eventuality
*Effective sharing of information between police and private companies
*Training to private security guards by police
*Collect more tax and give adequate security

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