The urban chaos in Gurgaon is an indicator of everything wrong with Indian cities and their planning and administration. And to add to the mess is the mess is millennium city’s perchant for multiple3 agencies all primed to usher in development, but which in reality, may well create hurdles to grow by working at cross purposes and problems of overlapping. This is happening even as a proposal to set up a singular authority is hanging fire for more than five years writes Madhusudan Sahoo
While Gurgaon is being seen as a role model for urban development, it is a worrisome perspective too with the existence of a multitude of agencies – all working for enhancing development in Millennium City.
While government babus are all tight-lipped about the recent development which may well create a messy commotion on urbanisation, a question arises here: what is urbanisation if it is not about sustainability and planning and a better quality of life? After all, Gurgaon cannot serve to be an example of money spinning private real estate development that will be free from all principles and policies.
There are several main civic agencies in Gurgaon. The Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG), which caters to the needs of those living in Old Gurgaon; the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for the sectors developed by it, the town and country planning (TCP) department for the localities developed by private developers; and the district development and panchayat office that looks after the rural areas.
Confusion starts when the public works department (building and road) claims jurisdiction of select structures and roads which are further divided between the HUDA and the MCG.
This is not a one-off confusion, rather there are many in the system that has put the growth of development on hold for years altogether.
There are lot many civic issues involved in Gurgaon, such as existing inadequacies in the water supply, poor sewage system, scarce public transport, the unmet demand for affordable housing are among them. Asked about such issues, senior government officials claim to not being responsible for the multiple issues, rather they say they are designated to solve the problems only within their own peripheries.
“Although every agency has its owned defined role, HUDA is having developmental role, and the town and country planning (TCP) is concerned with the planning part. Local level officers should be assigned more role and responsibil ity for better coordination,” said PC Meena, administrator , HUDA.
Besides poor civic infrastructure, Millennium City is also reported to have experienced clashes of interests and frequent fights over jurisdiction. On top of it, Gurgaon still does not have a dedicated agency for water distribution and the essential job is divided among HUDA, the Commiserate, MCG and the private developers. The mandarins heading these departments act just as executors for the want of adequate powers to sanction development or civic jobs as all crucial decisions-makers sit at the Authority’s headquarters in Chandigarh.
Not everyone agrees though. “No single agency can uniformly solve all the problems. If there is an integrated agency perhaps things could have been better , but it could be equally worse. Whenever there is one authority, you have one man at the top, that person will suffer from lack of time to solve all the problems. Also Gurgaon is evolving, the demarcation is done. I think there is hardly any confusion, every department has a role to play. There is no conflict between the district development authorities, HUDA and us, ” said Praveen Kumar , commissioner, MCG.
Even for a small purpose such as getting approval for a building plan the file has to be routed to Chandigarh and that ends up delaying the projects. If a local authority has to clear a sanitation proposal beyond Rs50 lakh it has to be approved by the brass sitting in the state capital. If one wants to transfer a plot or house to another , the final approval has to come from the director of town planning in Chandigarh.
A study by consulting firm McKinsey had said that if India doesn’t get its act together on urbanisation, by 2030, the quality of urban services across cities will dip quite sharply. In particular , existing inadequacies in the water supply will increase by 3.5 times, in sewage by 2 times, in public transport by 3 times and the unmet demand for affordable housing will touch 38 million people.
As for Gurgaon, the issue of floating a common development authority for the city has been hanging fire for over five years as the incumbent state government sat on it. Will the Millennium City get a makeover in all aspects to take the process of urbanisation to the next level? There are no answers yet.