Government would actively promote the establishment of new towns focussed on specific industry, for example IT, or a specific theme, for example, education or health.

Our Bureau

New Delhi, March 1

The Government said on Wednesday that it would actively promote the establishment of new towns focussed on specific industries such as IT or specific themes such as education and health.

"Planned urbanisation can act as a spur to growth, employment and a better quality of life. Government would actively promote the establishment of new towns focussed on specific industry, for example IT, or a specific theme, for example, education or health. Some projects are on anvil in West Bengal and Karnataka," the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, said while presenting the Union Budget.

The Government has also proposed to provide a grant of Rs 4,595 crore against the estimated outlay of Rs 6,250 crore for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for the next year.

Mr Chidambaram said that apart from the four projects, including Mumbai Metro Rail and Bangalore Metro Rail, projects under active consideration include those in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

The ambitious Rs 1 lakh-crore Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission launched on December 3, 2005 aims at improving urban infrastructure and basic services in over 60 cities with a million plus population, all State capitals and some cities of religious, historical and touristic importance. The mission focuses on the integrated development of urban infrastructure and services, with a special emphasis on the provision of basic services to the urban poor, including housing, water supply, sanitation, slum improvement, community toilets and bath. The programme seeks to increase the efficiency of city governance through public participation and disclosure.

A combined investment by the Central Government, State Governments and the urban local bodies of over Rs 1 lakh crore is proposed to be spent on this mission in the next seven years. Of this, the Centre's share is expected to be about Rs 50,000 crore. A Budget provision has already been made this fiscal for about Rs 5,000 crore.

The pre-Budget Economic Survey had taken note of the severe strain on infrastructure and services due to rapid urbanisation.. It had suggested a `user-charge financed approach' to facilitate a massive increase in capital expenditure on urban infrastructure.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 2, 2006)
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