While Millennium City has mande its name and fame as one of the country’s major IT hibs and by cocollary a major realty destination for young and upcoming professionals, of late, many problems relating to issues of infrastrucure and civic life have been gnawing at Gurgaon’s edifice. Spelling out the resovling ideas, proposals as well as work on the ground, PC Meena, Administrator, Haryana Urben Development Authority (HUDA), Gurgaon, spoke to Realty and More’s Editor Palash Roy, about how he plans to use new technology to make the system more transparent and responsive to the citizenry’s needs.
PR : What is your resolution for 2014?
PM : My first priority is to develop good infrastructure in the new sectors of Gurgaon where private developers are making colonies. Also I need to fill the gaps in the existing infrastructure. I have just been appointed as Administrator, but since I have been working in Gurgaon for almost three years now, I am well-acquainted with the infrastructural gaps which have already been identified. Also HUDA-related citizen services will be made user-friendly and IT-enabled.
PR : So citizen services of HUDA will be made completely IT-enabled?
PM : Many of the services are already IT-enabled. Allottee-related information is already online. But I am going to make many changes in that. For example, a building plan shall be sanctioned in 15 days, transfer process should be complete within a certain period, occupation certificate, completion certificate shall be given on time. There are scheduled days for the citizen charter but all these are not of much use until senior officers review these various processes because people are not deriving benefits from the online system.
So I am strengthening the existing online system under which whenever there is an overdue of any process, the senior officers would receive an alert. So by such an arrangement people would get their necessary clearances on time. Apart from such automatic alerts we have also started weekly reviews of the performances of the officers. In their Annual Confidential Report (ACRs), it will be mentioned how the files have moved from one department to another, and where it was held up leading to delays. So there will be disciplinary action against the officer where there have been delays. Apart from this we have also started a service where a grievance can be registered at firstname.lastname@example.org. All complaints – be it plot transfers, or getting building plans cleared, getting occupation certificate, completion certificate, clearance of zoning plans, water connection, sewerage, or for any services if someone feels harassed, he or she can lodge a complaint at the said mail-id. Apart from my team, I shall personally look into the grievances that come to this mail-id. Not only will these measures bring in transparency and accountability in the system, but it will also erect a sustainable long-term process even tomorrow if I am not here. So this system will be in place and the work will goon.
PR : Recently there were reports after a RTI query stating that nearly ~5,000 crore is lying unspent with HUDA. Why is it so when the city infrastructure is crying for investments?
PM : Such reports are mostly politically motivated. Funds that come in, cannot be spent overnight, neither shall it be spent in a hurry. There are some ongoing expenditures, some are in the pipeline, and there are some future planning as well. There are many things in the Masterplan which would require huge funds, even the extension of Metro Rail in a small stretch requires huge amount, then this ~5,000 crore will not be enough. Rapid Rail Metro system has to come up along NH-8. This will come from Delhi, serve Gurgaon, and along the NH-8, it will go till Alwarvia Manesar. We require funds for this. The Northern Peripheral Road (NPR) will decongest NH-8 and Old Gurgaon, also it will support the New Gurgaon sectors which are from sectors 81 to 115. Metro rail has to come up along this road. Apart from this, Gurgaon NPR has been directly connected to Manesar, and a 60-metre utility corridor has been left aside for this. Metro rail has to come along this route as well. So all these plans are there, which require huge funding. Not only this, Metro rail has been proposed along the Southern Peripheral Road, Golf Course Extension Road. All these will require lots of funding.
PM : Apart from what I have mentioned, the Feasibility Report has been made for the Dwarka-HUDA City Centre route. We are working with DMRC to take this forward. Work on Phase-2 of the Rapid Metro has been started, which is from Sikandarpur to Sectors 55 and 56 along the Golf Course. The completion date for this is by the end of 2015.
PR : Apart from Metro rail and Rapid Metro, do you have any other plans to improve the transport system within the city?
PM : There was a problem of public transport system within Gurgaon which has been addressed to a great extent but we need to do much more. Today there are 200 Haryana Road Transport city buses plying within the city. Fifty air-conditioned buses will be introduced in the current quarter. In the last one year only we have taken the number of buses from zero to 250 which has come as a big relief to the residents of Gurgaon. Also, the district administration and the traffic police are working to regulate the auto-rickshaws. In February, pre-paid auto-rickshaw booths have been started in HUDA city centre, which will extended to more than ten centres in the next two-three months. This will also provide relief to the people. Also Rapid Metro is only for the internal transportation which will very well cater to the peak office-hour commuters.
PR : But it is said that Rapid Metro is not proving to be a successful model in Gurgaon?
PM : I would not agree to that. It is in the initial stages, and the biggest advantage of this is that Rapid Metro route is catering to the commercial centres where there are more office spaces. Also it has connectivity with the Delhi Metro. So it will pick up slowly but surely.
PR : But the traffic is less than what was estimated?
PM : I agree to that. But you see when Delhi Metro started, then the media used to criticise that Delhi Metro was proving useless and nobody will use it but see how popular it is today. So you have to give time to any new system. Moreover, Rapid Metro just started two months back. We need to give it some time, and it will definitely prove to be the best mode of transportation here.
PR : Till June last HUDA earned ~1 0,000 crore as External Development Charge (EDC). Why don’t you spend that amount on infrastructure development?
PM : In Old Gurgaon- from Sector 1 to Sector 57- all sector roads today are completely well-made, they are motorable, in some areas we only need to decorate them with activities such as horticulture, bus shelters, drainage at some places, etc. Also developers’ societies are there in some of the old sectors. In such cases, we need to integrate their systems. So money has been spent on EDC. Also, road and sewerage systems have been made even in the villages of Gurgaon.
Earlier, villagers were using tubewell water, which has been replaced by canal water. All these are being done keeping in mind the pressure that build in the days to come. So a lot of work is being done and the EDC amount is being spent on these aspects.
PR : Do you have any affordable housing plans?
PM : Our town and country planning department is working on it. The Government has come out with an affordable housing plan under which such units will be constructed on a 5 acre plot of land. The plan also has all the cost structures. This will come into force soon and an allotment committee is in place for this. This is over and above what all the housing societies have reserve for the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) category. In the plotted colonies, the developers give certain plots to the housing board, where the board construct houses for the EWS.
PM : For the new sectors of Gurgaon, land has already been acquired for the sector roads and the major roads. Apart from that, HUDA also acquires land in the leftover sectors for planned development. While the new Act has its benefits, it will delay the process as the procedures under this are lengthy. Social impact assessment is a time-taking exercise. To understand these we have organised workshops for our officers. We have sensitised them about this. But the act is a bit cumbersome and it will prolong the process of land acquisition. But at the same time I don’t think that due to this there will be any hurdle to the necessary infrastructure development works.
PR : Over the years Gurgaon has been losing its edge over other NCR towns such as Naida mainly due to poor infrastructure. How are you planning to address that?
PM : I don’t think Gurgaon’s image has deteriorated over the years. In fact I would say it has improved.
PR : But there are infrastructural issues such as water clogging during rains, poor power situation, etc?
PM : I don’t think so, but at the same time I would say that there should not be any complacency in our part because as new cities are coming up, there would always be increasing competition and comparisons among the cities. Moreover, the expectations of the people keep on rising especially relating to issues of transportation, drinking water, sewerage, electricity and other services. All these require co-ordination between various government agencies and we are focussed on all such issues. The Government has also made a single-window clearance system along with the industrial departments.
For the last so many years, HUD~s focus has been on infrastructure development. Over the years the conditions of the roads have been improved a lot and we are identifying areas wherever there is a gap and are working in a focused manner to remove those. You will see that in the new planning of Gurgaon, none of the sector roads is less than 60 metres wide. Apart from that the NPR has a 200 metre wide road, which isveryrarein NCR.
From New Gurgaon comprising Sectors 81 to 115 this will emerge from NH-8 and connect with Dwarka. Also I must mention about the Early Bird Expressway which will connect Delhi and Jaipur, and for which land acquisition has started. It will decongest NH-8 and be beneficial for Gurgaon.
PM : In terms of decongestion, Gurgaon will benefit once the Northern Peripheral Road (NPR) and the Southern Peripheral Road (SPR) are made. Apart from this, we have proposed a direct road from Gurgaon to Sohna Road. Also Jumli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway will be beneficial for Gurgaon. The second phase of the Rapid Rail System will also decongest Gurgaon. Dwarka to HUDA City Centre Metro Rail will decongest Gurgaon roads. And all these are going to happen in the very near future and are among other plans on which we a reworking to decongest the Gurgaon roads.
PR : The National Green Tribunal (NGn has pulled up HUDA for pollution. What are you doing to address that?
PM : This is a problem with the old sectors. We have taken care of this in our planning while developing the new sectors, new roads, be it 90-metre roads, or the NPR, the SPR. or the Golf Course Extension Road; on these areas we have taken care of noise pollution issue for the residents. While for the old sectors nothing much can be done now, we are taking care of this issue in the new planning. We have hired professional agencies for this and a reworking as per their inputs.
PR : If fire fighting is being handled by the fire department working under the MCG, why has HUDA wasted money in purchasing fire fighting equipments?
PM : See these are not wastage. There are HUDA sectors. And it will help in supporting the fire fighting agencies.
PR : You are saying New Gurgaon is very well planned. But there are reports of drinking water problems in New Gurgaon?
PM : There are many agencies who create a lot of hue and cry regarding drinking water. I don’t agree to this. This could have been a problem in the past but not anymore. In 2006, the government made a NCR channel of 800 cusecs, of which 500 cusec capacity has been constructed which is coming to Gurgaon. Also for the Chandu Budhera plant, 300 acres land has been acquired and construction work for setting up a plant is already under progress. Of the six units to be set up here, two have already started. There is no problem of water availability. In certain isolated pockets there are only distribution issues. Now we aim to stop all the tubewells in the villages and supply water to those areas. There is a 22 mgd plant which will cater from Sector 58 to Sector 115. This unit is ready but no developer has given possession till now. If any developer gives possession there, we are ready to supply drinking water. We have more plans for enough water supply and storage, and this has been made, keeping in view the future demand which will only keep on increasing. The storage tank itself is being made on a 75-acre area. This plan is made keeping in view ofthe demand that will come in 2031, and we are prepared for it today.
PR : hat about groundwater being used for construction activities?
PM : We have completely banned use of groundwater for construction. Sewage treated tertiary water provided by us shall be used for
construction activities. Even after that if there is a requirement then we have enough canal raw water.