Millennium Post

Budget looks at decongesting cities through metro networks

Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s initiative to include slum development in the list of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and an attempt to decongest large cities through metro connectivity in urban areas are certainly going to prove a boon for the people in the coming years. While announcing the proposal to add slum development in the list of CSR activities to encourage the private sector to contribute more towards this activity, Jaitley’s raining sops in terms of Urban Metro Projects (UMP) have invited mass applause. The pilot project will begin with Rs 100 crore for Metro Projects in Lucknow and Ahmedabad.

Anticipating the importance of UMP to decongest big cities, the finance minister has announced that for nearly two million plus cities, planning of metro projects must begin now. He said, ‘The NDA government will encourage development of metro rail systems, including light rail systems, in the PPP mode, which will be supported by the centre through Viability Gap Funding (VGF),’ he said.
Concerned over poor town planning, rapid illegal developments and encroachments, the finance minister has stressed for ‘urban renewal’. He claimed that the time has come to look with a different perspective for a complete makeover of other cities apart from metros to make a better place to live in. ‘It is our commitment that at least five hundred (500) such habitations must be provided support, while harnessing private capital and expertise through PPPs, to renew their infrastructure and services in the next 10 years,’ he added.

Jaitley, while claiming that developing housing and other infrastructure with possible local variation (both physical and economic), has pointed that four fundamental activities including safe drinking water and sewage management, use of recycled water for growing organic fruits and vegetable, solid waste management and digital connectivity, to which the government is committed. Housing for all is another area which the BJP promised in its manifesto. The finance minister has announced that the government will work to provide housing for all by 2022 and to make it a success they have to extend additional tax incentive on home loans to encourage people, especially the young, to own houses.

He said, ‘I propose setting up a Mission on Low Cost Affordable Housing which will be anchored in the National Housing Bank (NHB). Schemes will be evolved to incentivise the development of low-cost affordable housing. The government this year has allocated a sum of Rs 4,000 crore for NHB with a view to increase the flow of cheaper credit for affordable housing to the urban poor, EWS and LIG segment.’
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