Staff Reporter

City development plans to be finalised before July 31

Thiruvananthapuram: The State Government has accelerated moves to avail itself of Central assistance for developing Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi cities under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

A series of measures such as expansion of the State-level steering committee, appointment of nodal agencies and preparation of city development plans has been set into motion. The two corporations have been directed to finalise their city development plans before July 31.

The steering committee, headed by the Chief Minister, is to be expanded to include the Ministers for Finance and Public Works. Official sources said the nodal agencies for the mission had been identified. The orders would be issued in a few days.

The two corporations are also in the process of setting up core groups, headed by the respective Mayors, to prepare the city development plans. While an official from the Town Planning Department would be the general convenor of the core group in Thiruvananthapuram, the Chief Engineer of the Goshree Island Development Authority is likely to be appointed convenor for Kochi.

Development plans

Official sources said the city development plans for the two cities would be finalised after detailed discussions with urban development experts and representatives of various organisations. The discussions would be documented to establish the participatory nature of the exercise. The corporations have been asked to avoid consultancy projects at this stage, but they will be permitted to outsource some of the components. However, the preparation of detailed projects may be entrusted to consultants.

Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi are among the 63 cities included in the mission for fast-track development of urban infrastructure and basic services. Detailed city development plans are part of the eligibility norms specified by the Centre for external funding. The absence of such base documents is one major reason why Kerala is lagging behind other States in the race to claim a share of the Rs. 50,000 crore economic package.

Thiruvananthapuram is one of the 28 cities selected for the mission in the category of urban areas with a population of less than one million. According to the financing pattern, the Centre will foot 80 per cent of the project cost, with the rest to be shared equally by the State Government and the urban body. Under the JNNURM guidelines, the project reports from each local body are to be backed by comprehensive city development plans with a 20-year perspective.