Meerut’s urban dreams die in its half-done drains

Dec 20 2012, 00:57 IST
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SummaryThe irony was not lost on anyone when Meerut, part of the ancient Harappan settlement renowned for its sophisticated drainage systems, was promised a decent sewerage system under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission as late as 2005.

basic services to urban poor. There are two sub-missions under JNNURM — one for urban infrastructure and governance and another for providing basic services to urban poor.

Delays and shoddy work have been the culprits in many cases, as it is in Meerut. District magistrate Vikas Gothawal defended the scheme: “There are genuine reasons for the delay. Work slowed down for almost six months during state elections. As far as the quality of work is concerned, third-party inspections are being conducted and I don’t think the agency undertaking the work is incompetent,” he told a visiting team from FE.

However, Meerut’s housing project for the urban poor— which comes under integrated housing and slum development — is barely 30% complete. While digging is on for sewerage, there is little movement on an ambitious waste disposal plant, which was to start by 2009.

A Jal Nigam official told FE that the sewage network under construction lacks capacity and would collapse within a decade as population grows. This means a key mission objective – securing linkages between asset creation and maintenance for long-run project sustainability – is not being met.

The Meerut sewage project envisages laying 243 km of pipelines for waste disposal within municipal limits. The project, which was slated for completion by March 2012, now has a new deadline of September 2013. But given the pace of work and lackadaisical approach of implementing agencies, even the new deadline seems hard to achieve.

A city development plan of around Rs 1,400 crore was prepared for Meerut in 2006 under which around Rs 235 crore was to be allotted for the sewage network, Rs 341 crore for water supply and storm water drains, around Rs 25 crore for solid waste management, Rs 300 crore for roads and transportation, Rs 358 crore for urban renewal and the rest for municipal reforms and capacity building. Only one project – roads and transport under which 150 low-floor buses were to be procured – was completed on time.

Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam was made the implementing agency for sewage, water supply and waste management works and Meerut Nagar Nigam was the monitoring agency. According to Jal Nigam, only 45% of the network has been laid and the progress of other projects like urban renewal, storm water drain are not satisfactory. Local MP Rajendra Aggarwal is of the view that the work couldn’t be completed as the municipal and implementing bodies lacked the

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