Ambala, Kanpur taken as counter magnet towns

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The cash and infrastructure-strapped national capital region planning board (NCRPB) has included three more towns, Ambala in Haryana, Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Dehradun in Uttarakhand, as counter-magnet towns in addition to already existing Hissar, Bareilly, Kota, Gwalior and Patiala. The decision was taken on Wednesday after a meeting held under the aegis of the urban development ministry and attended by chief ministers of Delhi and Haryana, apart from the lieutenant governor of Delhi. The meeting was also attended by UP's minister for housing and urban planning and top officials from these states.

Counter-magnet towns are identified as those that can be developed as alternative centres of growth and attract migrants to them rather than Delhi. Promoting growth of counter magnet towns are the principal components of the strategy to reduce both migration and population explosion in the Delhi metropolitan area. These towns are located in five states, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab, in addition to UP, Haryana and Rajasthan, which are already part of the national capital region. The criterion for selecting counter magnet towns are that they should not be within commutable distance from Delhi, should have their own established roots and potential of growth and should not be centres of either religious, strategic or environmental importance.

Union urban development minister, S Jaipal Reddy, told Financial Chronicle that the strategy has worked so far. “While we have not been able to stop migration, it is equally true that if these steps had not been taken, Delhi would have been confronted with a gigantic population problem,'' he said.

He said the revised budget of the board for the present year and the budget for the next year have been approved. The board has agreed to provide a cumulative financial assistance of Rs 2,700 crore from 2009-10 to 2010-11. The board has also decided to raise total borrowings of Rs 8,000 crore from the Asian Development Bank (ADB)/World Bank and domestic capital market for meeting the target investment of Rs 15,000 crore in the NCR during the eleventh five year plan period (2007-12).

When asked to comment on the recent observations of principal donor, ADB, that `public investment in urban infrastructure is unlikely to be “sufficient” and that “business processes and implementing agencies are reluctant to change” in the NCR, Reddy said that funding was always found to be insufficient in all projects and NCR was no exception.

He mentioned that the board agreed to the proposals for undertaking new studies on social infrastructure, health, education, economic profile and household industries in the NCR. These studies are expected to identify gaps and target interventions/investment needs in the region.

Reddy also said a new integrated multi-modal transportation plan for NCR, which includes a proposal for roads (expressways, national highways, state highways and other roads), bus systems, bus terminals, new rail lines, regional rapid transit system (RRTS), MRTS, airports, logistic hu­bs, and integrated freight complexes in the region was also approved by the board.

The NCRPB is a statutory body under the ministry of urban development, wh­ich prepares a plan for the development of the national capital region and for coordinating, monitoring and implementing land use and infrastructure development policies.

The total area of the National Capital Region is 33,578 sq km covering nine districts of Haryana, including Gurgaon, and Faridabad, five districts of UP, including Ghaziabad, Noida and Meerut, Alwar district of Rajasthan and the national capital territory of Delhi.

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