Special Correspondent

Aim is to improve housing and infrastructure facilities

HYDERABAD: Three cities each in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have been selected for improvement in housing and infrastructure facilities like road, sanitation and drinking water under the Rs.1 lakh-crore ambitious scheme of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission launched by the Union Government recently.

The six cities figuring in the list of 63 urban agglomerations identified for implementing the mission are Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, all in Andhra Pradesh, and Chennai, Madurai and Coimbatore of Tamil Nadu. The Centre will release its 50 per cent share towards the cost only after the State contributes the other half for any project taken up under the scheme whose ultimate aim is eradicating urban poverty covering all the areas in the city, especially slums.

M. Rajamani, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development, told reporters at a national meeting on the mission at the MCR HRD Institute here on Friday that the cities listed for the mission would, however, have to streamline their revenue earning and show credit-worthiness to be eligible to get the Central funds. He said implementation of reforms was also mandatory for the cities like proper collection of property tax and, if necessary, its enhancement to the extent required.

Modalities

The conference, attended by the municipal administration officials from both States, including civic commissioners of the six cities, discussed modalities to be adopted at the local level for going ahead with the implementation.

It finalised the cost of the dwelling unit to be constructed with specified measurements under the mission's programme at Rs. 80,000.

P. K. Mohanty, Director-General, Centre for Good Governance, who made a presentation on urban problems, said the reforms in the urban development sector would be meaningful only if financial powers were also included in the list of 18 functions enshrined in the Constitution under the 74th amendment.

He opposed property tax concessions allowed to properties and buildings of the Central Government, and suggested that they be brought on a par with that of the State Government.

He wanted the civic bodies to be headed by professional cadre.