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Gurgaon needs stronger district administration
Dr. P.S. Rana, former Chairman and Managing Director of HUDCO, a resident of Gurgaon, in an..

EVERY YEAR, Gurgaon generates Rs. 8,000 crore as revenue, and almost every day we hear of new housing projects and business tie-ups. While Gurgaon is a bustling city with ambition, a day in the life of Gurgaon can be frustrating. Dr. P.S. Rana, with his years of experience in town planning, says that if Gurgaon’s district administrators are given clear powers in implementation, and policy planners don’t delay, then Beautiful Gurgaon will soon be a reality.

Gurgaon is often called a Millennium City. Does the city deserve this name?

Gurgaon is a city that was never quite planned as a mega city but grew into a position where there’s a lot of potential of the city becoming a Millennium City. After all, Gurgaon has a lot of things going for it, and if it can convince and be attractive to some of the largest companies to run their operations, it certainly has a bright future. We should not forget that Gurgaon, which today has the maximum high-rise residential buildings in one area, was planned as a ‘downtown’ in the NCR region or as a business district as Delhi was getting choked. Gurgaon needs to make full use of this opportunity to become more than an off-shoot of Delhi.

As per estimates, more than 46 per cent of Haryana’s revenue comes from Gurgaon. Still, the city is nowhere close to modern cities in terms of infrastructure, speed of business approvals, transportation, education and general cleanliness. How can Gurgaon bridge this gap?

It’s true that Gurgaon is a major breadwinner in the state of Haryana. The majority of Gurgaon’s income comes from real estate development and real estate development charges. But in a parliamentary democracy, the stakeholders of this revenue are many and how funds are utilized often leaves much to be desired. If Gurgaon has to bridge the gap it needs to make the district administration strong and policy makers at the top should not interfere.

Gurgaon spends crores of rupees in operating captive DG sets. Had the same kind of investment gone to build power capacity, the city would face much less power cuts. Are you satisfied with the power situation in Gurgaon?

I always say that cost of unreliability is higher than the cost involved in making services reliable. It means we can save money while working efficiently than inefficiently. What we require is a dialogue between users of electricity and providers of electricity.

In many respects Gurgaon seems to be imitating western models of urbanization? Should we not create our own models?

Cities as we know them are bound to look similar over a period of time. There’s nothing wrong in having urban elements from other countries. The basis of a city that’s a role model lies in how people treat open and closed spaces. The Millennium City looks good in patches. But that’s not good enough. There’s so much of Gurgaon that does not have good civic infrastructure. The basic problem lies in implementation bottlenecks. There are lots of plans and ideas roaming about – but many are rejected, delayed, or chopped and changed even though the original project was approved and found fit. So, if this is the state of affairs, then following any model from anywhere will be difficult. One is not being critical, and the objective is to motivate and make the administration more responsive.

In Gurgaon, Rajiv and Hero Honda Chowks are traffic nightmares. Does this issue reflect lack of co-ordination within HUDA and between HUDA and Gurgaon’s municipal bodies?

The problem is that DS Construction, one of the companies that helped construct the Gurgaon expressway, says that it should not be held responsible for the mess at these chowks, as it is not their responsibility to safeguard these areas. It is Gurgaon’s administration, which should take charge of the situation. We have been discussing, but has there been any concrete plan? Also, hit and trial methods will not do. There is a viable solution to getting rid of the traffic and commuting chaos that takes place at these chowks. All that needs to do is to construct parallel two-way roads along the highway, with entry and exit points, so that the highway is bypassed, and people from all directions can travel smoothly without costly U-turns down the road.

Where do you see Gurgaon in five years in terms of quality of roads, road coverage, city-wide transportation, and traffic management?

As far as keeping quality of roads consistent is concerned, Gurgaon’s roads must have a good drainage system. The more roads are exposed to water, the more they will wear and tear. But open soil leads to blockage, and this results in water-logging.

To your question about traffic management, I would like to ask a counter-question. Does any state have a customized traffic department for traffic management? Sure, we have a road and transport ministry and urban affairs ministry, but where is the institutional set up to look after issues resulting from traffic?

Given that the city does not store much water in man-made water reservoirs, how can the city be more pro-active in water management?

In the capacity of an advisor, I have suggested that to take care of water demand we need to create three lakes in Delhi along the Yamuna River of three sizes – 200 sq kms; 100 sq kms; and 60 sq kms. This will result in availability of 2.5 billion cubic metres of water.

To become ‘Beautiful Gurgaon’, how can Gurgaon be more modern, eco-friendly and attractive?

Well, for that we need to start from the top, I mean the very top, which is our political system of functioning. Just like in old times, there used to be just one Raja, and now we have one mukhiya at the village level. We need to have governance built like that in a company. One CEO, and then specialized people who have the ability and authority to implement. Accountability is the key, if Gurgaon has to grow in a planned manner. As I have emphasized before, the district administration needs to be empowered, and bureaucrats should be happy taking forward their predecessor’s work instead of working against them.

About Dr. P.S. Rana

Dr. P.S. Rana was the Chairman and Managing Director of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO). He was one of the key persons involved in putting together HUDCO's vision to be the leader in the key Housing and Urban Infrastructure Finance sector. A B Tech, Civil, from of Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, he  did his Masters in Town and Country Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, and Ph.D. in Transport Engineering and Management from the University of New Castle Upon Tyne, UK.

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