Barcelona as model, Naidu sells Delhi dream

NEW DELHI: Union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday called for developing venues like Disneyland and Universal Studios in the city to make it vie with other world capitals as an entertainment destination. He said the government was keen on developing Delhi into a model global city and that Spain had already assured technical support to design it like Barcelona with “smart city features.”

He was speaking at a function organized by Delhi Development Authority to hand over allotment letters for the latest housing scheme to successful applicants. The minister said the DDA act needs to be amended to make way for Delhi’s development as a smart city and that a committee will be formed soon by the UD ministry to propose the required amendments.

Among the hundred smart cities that the union government has planned, the first will be developed right here in Delhi, he said. This will be done through land pooling. “Delhi can be made a truly global city like Barcelona, Seoul, Singapore, San Francisco and others. It should have world class entertainment venues like Universal Studios and Disneyland. The industrial estates should also be liberalized,” he said, explaining that industrial spaces may not necessarily contain factories but showrooms too.

Naidu announced that a “lake city” will be developed near Sanjay Lake in Mayur Vihar. “The lake city and the smart city should be a place where tourists can go like they go to Red Fort, Qutub Minar and other beautiful places in Delhi,” he said.

Speaking on the need to undertake redevelopment of residential and commercial areas in the capital, Naidu said a committee under an additional secretary of the UD ministry will be constituted since many such areas are quite old. A redevelopment policy for markets, on the lines of Khan Market, will be evolved in 30 days. He pointed out that the government had recently allowed freehold rights to the residents of 23 nazul estates whose leases had expired. Similarly, ownership rights have also been given to the residents of areas like Parharganj, Daryaganj, Karol Bagh and others who were till now paying chulha tax and were not the owners of their houses. He directed DDA to organize camps to create awareness regarding the procedure for such conversion in these localities.

Speaking about the “smart city” concept, he said the focus will be to build global educational and health institutions and entertainment facilities. DDA’s vice chairman Balvinder Kumar had recently announced that the ‘smart city’ will be like a sub-city, spread over 20 to 24 ha in Dwarka, Rohini and Narela and will be equipped with latest green energy technologies and zero waste facilities. Naidu also asked DDA to take up construction of one lakh houses by the end of 2015.

The Union government is also considering a bus rapid transit system (BRTS) and mass rapid transit system (MRTS) for Delhi. “There are 85 lakh vehicles in the city. To decongest it, we want to bring in circular railway and MRT, revive BRT and expand the reach of the Metro network,” he said.

Naidu took dig at Congress by claiming that during its reign there was only Doordarshan but during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure as PM, 850 channels were allowed. “Atalji also gave us rail, TV, tele, highway, air and political connectivity. When we came to power there was a revenue deficit and trust deficit. Inflation came down from 10.4 % to 0.4% after we came,” he said. “According to the PM’s vision of ending financial untouchability, we have opened 10 crore new bank accounts in the last nine weeks under the Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana. The PM doesn’t sleep and he doesn’t let others sleep. The new government is very active,” he said.

Attacking Congress on the issue of black money, Naidu said, “Those who are shouting about bringing back black money should tell us where they have saved it so that we can bring it back.”

Source: Times of India
Dated: 3rd January 2015

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