Stop ignoring smaller cities: Expert to State

Speaking at the inauguration of a workshop on ‘Urbanisation Issues in Karnataka,’ she said: “You ask people to invest in other towns of Karnataka. But you have not created basic infrastructure for the investors to put their money in smaller cities and towns. The public service delivery system is also poor,” said Dr Isher.

She reminded the policy makers that there is a need for rural-urban synergy for faster and more inclusive growth rather than rural versus urban model. She also asked the State government to emphasise on skill development and use public private partnership for it.

She was also critical about the slump in the GDP of the State which is much below than the national average. The SGDP of Karnataka started exceeding the national GDP in middle of 2005-06 and reached all time high in the middle of 2006-07 but began slowing down in 2008-09 to touch 6 per cent in 2010-11 when the national average was 7.7 per cent. “Karnataka’s slowdown is much higher than the national GDP. This should concern us,” Dr Isher added.

However, she hailed measures like geographical information system for property tax, high realisation of revenues and solid waste management.

Funds for Bangalore

Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said there is a great need to consider mega-cities like Bangalore as a special category for assistance under Central schemes like JnNURM. Bangalore’s infrastructural needs required a budgetary allocation of Rs 1.25 lakh crore but it got a mere Rs 3,476 crores under the scheme, he added.

However, he welcomed the recommendation to increase the budgetary allocation for cities under the improvised version of JnNURM.

In light of the recommendations made by the HPEC to improve the urban scenario, Gowda said: “Recommendations like funding from the Centre equivalent to 0.25 per cent of the GDP annually for a period of 20 years, differential treatment of cities based on size, development of integrated land use and transport plan and capacity building are most welcome.”

The chief minister recalled the measures taken by the State government to improve the urban infrastructure and municipal management. He spoke on the measures taken to provide shelter to the urban poor under Vajpayee Housing Scheme and Rajiv Awas Yojana.

He also highlighted some measures to improve the urban scenario in Bangalore and rest of Karnataka like constitution of urban mapping cell, urban property ownership records creation project in five cities, inauguration of Metro Rail, Bus Rapid Transport System for Hubli-Dharwad and resource mobilization mechanism.

State Urban Development Minister Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary S V Ranganath, former Isro chairman Dr K Kasturirangan and additional chief secretary K M Shivakumar were present.

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