ON THE HIGHWAY TO GROWTH
With the Noida-Greater Noida-Yamuna Expressway belt rapidly positioning itself as one of the country’s prime hubs for real estate, infrastructural and commercial area development, big plans are afoot for the region including improving connectivity and transportation to raising law and order architectures and also recreational hubs like night safaris. The man in the middle of the action is Rama Raman, Chairman of the Noida, Greater Noida Authorities and the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA). In an exclusive interview with Reality & More Editor Palash Roy, Raman lays down his vision plan for the region in the immediate future
PR : What is your 2014 resolution for all the three authorities – Noida, Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway?
RR : There are different resolutions for all three authorities. The basic and first resolution for Noida this year is to make the roads garbage-free, I myself am the nodal officer for this. I am monitoring this on a day-to-day basis. Apart from this, there are two more things — we need to make a better public transportation system available in Noida which will be multi-fold. One is the Metro rail extension, we will work towards bringing the Metro rail to more sectors of Noida. We will also make available more city bus services, which is negligible now due to which people are forced to ride on old tempos, autorickshaws, etc, and auto drivers take undue advantage of this situation by charging excessive fares. Also, people don’t like to ride on these — they feel they are in a modern city with a stale mode of transportation. So we are in the process of establishing a city bus company for which our board has given approval. The proposal is with the government and as soon as we get the approval, we will set up our own city bus service.
PR : Will there be private participation in this proposed city bus company?
RR : Yes. We might adopt the PPP model and involve private parties in it. Noida, Greater Noida and UPSRTC will have equity in the proposed company. We have appointed UMTC as the consultant, which is making a complete mobility plan for us for Noida and Greater Noida. This plan will have a three-tier or a four-tier system — apart from the metro rail. It will also examine other suitable modes of transport-related to the metro such as monorail, tram, etc and they will advise us accordingly. Then the city bus service will be improved to a very large extent.
PR : Will this city bus service be also made available to Greater Noida?
RR : Yes. The city bus company will be for Noida and Greater Noida.
• We are in the process of establishing a city bus company for which our board has given approval. The proposal is with the government and as soon as we get the approval, we will set up our own city bus service.
• For Greater Noida, the first resolution is to start work on the Metro rail to Greater Noida. The second is to start work on the long-proposed and talked-about night safari. Work will start this year on location. This is my commitment.
• The second tier is for the BRTC and low-floor buses while the third tier is to take people home from the bus stands. For this, we will provide suitable rickshaws, autos and bike pillion ride facilities.
PR : Are you taking any help from the Union Urban Development Ministry for this?
RR : We have asked for a grant under JNNURM for 200 buses.
PR : You have spoken about the plan for Noida, what about the other two authorities?
RR : For Greater Noida, the first resolution is to start work on the Metro rail to Greater Noida. The second is to start work on the long-proposed and talked-about night safari. Work will start this year on location. This is my commitment to the residents of Greater Noida.
PR : And the target for the Yamuna Expressway this year?
RR : The resolution for the Yamuna Expressway this year is to resolve the issues of the farmers so that the development work can start there because without that no developmental work can start.
PR : What is the status on that now?
RR : A ministerial-level committee has been set up on that. Two-three rounds of talks have happened. Talks between the committee and the farmers have taken place twice or thrice, their problems have been considered, and the report of the committee is expected soon.
PR : But the Yamuna Expressway Authority does not have the funds which are required to meet the demands of the farmers?
• We have made a security plan for Noida and Greater Noida and have sent it to the government which will soon be put up for cabinet approval.
• The salient features of this plan include increasing policeman power, which includes setting up six new police stations, one of which would be a cyber police station. The other five police stations would be industrial police stations, in which, apart from the police station there will be a fire station and availability of labour inspectors and factory inspectors.
PR : Are you taking any help from the Union Urban Development Ministry for this?
RR : Yes, the YEIDA does not have that kind of fund which is a cause for concern for the authority. For this, we are seeking co-operation from the farmers. We can provide money to them in phases, we can also give part cash and part land. All these things are to be decided. We will also pass on some of the burden to the allottees. Only then will we be able to arrive at a solution, as the Authority does not have that kind of financial strength, and it is already under a debt of `3,000 crores.
PR : Have you also asked grant for the planned monorail, tramways, etc.?
RR : The Government of India provides grant of up to 20 percent of the cost of Metro rail extension. We have sent a proposal for this to the government. Three proposals for the Metro are pending. First is a 29-km long Metro line between Noida and Greater Noida, which will cost about `5,000 crores. To run this, we are going to form the Noida Metro Rail Company. We have also sent a proposal to DMRC to extend the Metro from Sector 32 to Sector 62. The Noida Authority will bear the entire cost apart from the 20 percent grant from the central government.
One more Metro rail route which we are trying is to connect Botanical Garden to Kalindi Kunj. A proposal to this has already been sent to DMRC, which is at the level of MoU. We have finalised the MoU and sent it to the government. On getting the approval, we will sign the MoU with DMRC and bear 80 percent of the expenditure.
So residents of Noida will get one more Metro rail line for Delhi. With this, the people in Noida would get a direct metro for South Delhi and the airport. This is the plan for the Metro.
The second tier is for the Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) and low-floor buses while the third tier is to take people home from the bus stands. For this, we will provide suitable rickshaws, autos and bike pillion ride facilities. Also, we will make air-conditioned bus stands and buses will be GPS-enabled. So there will be no deficiency in the transportation system of the city.
PR : Do you think the BRTS will be successful in Noida where roads are not very wide?
RR : You are right. We will introduce the BRTS along limited routes, for example in Greater Noida, or somewhere if a corridor is developed between Noida-Greater Noida. UMTC, which is an expert agency, is working on all these and we will work as per their suggestion. The third major work that we are doing is on security. There is a perception, a mindset that there is lawlessness. To dispel this, we have made a security plan for Noida and Greater Noida and have sent it to the government which will soon be put up for cabinet approval.
The salient features of this plan include increasing police manpower, which includes setting up six new police stations, one of which would be a cyber police station, as cybercrime and cyber fraud involving online financial crimes have increased these days. The cyber
police station will work to prevent this. The other five police stations would be industrial police stations, in which, apart from the police station there will be a fire station and availability of labour inspectors and factory inspectors. This will ensure a one-stop solution for all types of crimes and people would not be required to go to multiple places. This would be a first of its kind.
PR : You have to coordinate with other departments for this?
RR : Yes we have to. And Noida Authority will take responsibility to create the necessary infrastructure for this such as buildings, furniture, etc. We will also adopt digital technology, the modern security surveillance system, in fact, we have already started working on this. We have asked for EoIs (Expression of Interests) from vendors. Under the proposed system, cameras would be installed on all major road crossings, on all entry points to the city, there will be a command control room with vehicles attached to it. All these will be provided by the Noida Authority, we haven’t asked for anything from the government. So whenever there is an incident of a crime or a mishap, the command control will immediately come into action and take necessary steps — be it calling the police, or ambulance or fire brigade or a crane, etc. This will also help in life-saving measures such as immediate hospitalisation for the injured, etc. Also, we will provide mobile scientific labs to collect samples, etc. The fire brigades will also be equipped with 72-meter long ladders which will be helpful in cases of fire in high-rise buildings.
• Cameras would be installed on all major road crossings, on all entry points to the city, there will be a command control room with vehicles attached to it. All these will be provided by the Noida Authority.
• Around 117 pubic-related services will be made online. This will reduce the interface between the officials and the
public. People will be able to apply online for various services. This will be done this year itself.
PR : What kind of investment will you be making in this?
RR : Nearly `200-250 crore of capital investment for infrastructure related to policing will be done by the Noida Authority.
PR : What steps are you taking to clear the parking hassles in Noida? Any plans for multi-level parking slots?
RR : We have recently completed quite a few parking lots and there are plans for more such lots. But we don’t think there is a need for multi-level parking spaces currently. The problem isn’t so grave now. The problem exists but we are managing it well as of now.
PR : What are you doing to improve public governance?
RR : Around 117 pubic-related services will be made online. This will reduce the interface between the officials and the public. People will be able to apply online for various services. This will be done this year itself. This will increase transparency and eliminate corruption.
PR : By when this would be functional?
RR : Definitely in this year, but the aim is to make this operational in the next six months. This will help in implementing the citizen charter as monitoring will also be easier after this. We will monitor on a daily basis how many applications have been submitted, how
many of them have been disposed of, at what stage they are. I can monitor them here on my computer and take action accordingly. Also, people would get SMSes on their mobile regarding the status of their application, they wouldn’t have to go to various officials. These are the major initiatives planned for this year apart from various other measures such as roads, bypasses, bridges, the FNG (Faridabad-Noida-Ghaziabad), etc.
PR : What is the status of FNG, when this will become operational?
RR : We have removed all the encroachments on the proposed expressway. We expect the part of the road which comes under Noida Authority to be ready in the next six months. But the bridge on the Yamuna will take 18-24 months.
PR : How much funds have you earmarked for the transportation plan which you detailed?
RR : The transportation plan is a continuing plan. Only the Metro rail extension till Greater Noida will cost ` 5,000 crores. Nearly `400 crore rupees will be required for the Botanical Garden-Kalindi Kunj Metro line. Almost `700-800 crore will be required for the extension of the Metro from Sector 32 to Sector 62. This is a major investment. We have earmarked nearly `100 crore for the bus service. Almost `1,000 crores have been kept for elevated roads, bridges, underpasses, etc. So in all-around `7,000 crore is the estimated spend for the transportation plan.
PR : By when will the city bus service, BRTS, etc be up and running?
RR : The city bus service will available by this year itself including a few hi-tech bus stands. Work will continue for the rest.
PR : For this, is the Noida Authority doing the entire funding for this on its own?
RR : Funds are available with the Authority. But will also borrow from external financial agencies. We will take funds from the NCR Planning Board and also take grants from the central government.
PR : What about the Metro rail plan along the expressway till Agra?
RR : Not Metro exactly but there is a proposal of a high-speed train to Agra along the 120 metre spine road of the Expressway. This can start from the Buraki railway station as there will be a multi-modal transport hub at that station. Passenger trains, goods trains, Metro rail terminals, inter-state bus terminals and terminals for all modes of transport will be made at Buraki railway station. So the high-speed train to Agra can originate from there. But it is too early to say anything now. Roads are yet to be made, there has to be enough population for this. It is only in the planning stage as the master plan for that region is yet to be made. But there is a possibility that the Metro can be extended till the Formula One venue, as quite a few buildings and institutions have come up there with more expected to come up soon. Also as regular events are taking place there, Metro rail connectivity can be given till that point. We are already planning for that.
PR : Yamuna Expressway has not seen the desired traffic as estimated. What do you think is the reason behind this?
RR : The basic reason is the lack of public transport. There is non-availability of a good reliable public transportation system from Greater Noida to Delhi. This will be taken care of once the Metro rail comes to Greater Noida. The second is the security perception. This will soon be taken care of as there will be an SSP office in Greater Noida, most likely by March or April. The security perception will start changing on its own once the SSP starts sitting there. Also, the security perception will improve once the intelligent security plan is implemented. given till that point. We are already planning for that.
PR : Are you coming up with new affordable housing schemes in all or any of the three authorities?
RR : Recently, two affordable schemes were closed, one each in Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway. We expect to come out with one more scheme in February.
PR : With the new Land Acquisition Act in 2014, do you envisage difficulties in land acquisition in the days to come?
RR : We might face problems due to this. We need to sit and formulate such a strategy so that work of the designated authority goes on, but at the same time, farmers’ interests are also taken care of.
PR : Lastly where is your maximum focus, rather, which is your favourite authority among the three?
RR : This is a tough question to answer. But my favourite is Greater Noida, as I have been there for a long, and the people and the farmers there are very cooperative. We have a better understanding among ourselves. But Noida is different, as the population is bigger and the problems are also many, for which I have to devote more time here, and I am unable to give that much time to Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway, which should not be the case. The scope of development is much more in Greater Noida and the Yamuna Expressway, and I should give more time there.
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