PUNJAB CONG RELEASES VISION DOCUMENT FOR STATE’S SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM URBAN DEVELOPMENT
FOCUS ON INFRASTRUCTURE, WATER & SEWAGE MANAGEMENT, FIRE-FIGHTING, E-GOVERNANCE
Senior Punjab Congress leaders, Captain Amarinder Singh, Sunil Jakhar and Navjot Singh Sidhu, on Thursday released a Vision Document for the state’s urban development, with infrastructure development, fire-fighting system upgradation, water and sewage management, parking management and e-governance topping the agenda.
 
The policy document, drafted keeping in mind the urbanisation trends and major civic infrastructural issues in the state, focuses on planned investments in urban local bodies to improve the living conditions in urban areas, both in the short and long term.
 
In the short term, the party has listed out LED street lights and fire fighting system at the top of the agenda, with Rs 4.90 lac investment aimed at installation of LED street lights in all ULBs, resulting in 60% energy saving. On the fire fighting system, which Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has directed to be upgraded on war-footing in the wake of the Ludhiana incident, it is proposed to provide fire tenders for all the fire brigades.
 
Another thrust area relates to Collection & Transportation of Solid waste with smart Infrastructure in efficient manner in the cities, for which the party wants to promote Smart Waste Collection System, where waste containers are replaced by underground or semi-underground waste collection containers/ bins. With greater holding capacity, these more hygienic, non-flammable bins would increase capacity of waste compaction by 1.5 to 2.5 times, leading to improved aesthetics, limited maintenance and reduced frequency of frequent collection and transportation of the waste.
 
To enable forensic audit in the ULBs, in order to streamline their functioning and assess irregularities/shortcomings, M/s Grant Thornton Ltd. has been appointed as Independent Review and Forensic Audit agency for carrying out the forensic audit of infrastructure works carried out in the ULBs in the last 10 years. In the first stage the agency is carrying out forensic audit in four Municipal Corporation towns i.e. Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala, four Improvement Trusts in these towns, three Municipal Councils of Kharar, Zirakpur and Rajpura, works related to water supply, sewerage, STP carried out by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala during the last 10 years and works related to Town Planning Department.
 
It is also proposed in the vision document to implement online building plan approval system in all the Municipal Bodies of Punjab. The proposed Building Plan Management System shall automate the end-to-end process from empanelment of architect, Online Documents Submission, Online Fee Payment, Architect Registration, Building Plan Approval, and Plinth Level Approval to Completion / Occupation Certificate across all ULBs in Punjab.
 
The vision document, which cites 50% women reservation in municipal elections as a step towards strengthen the ULBs through women empowerment, also focuses on overhauling of the Punjab Municipal Outdoor Advertisement  Policy 2012 with a dynamic pricing module and transparent bidding system to ensure improved safety of citizens and better transparency.
 
Considering the gravity of the parking problems in urban areas, the Congress Party proposes to adopt and implement appropriate policy along with comprehensive parking measures to promote sustainable transportation strategies and discourage growing dependence on personal motor vehicles. Such a mechanism aims to ensure optimal use of scarce public land; prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and users of mass public transit, emergency vehicles, differently abled persons, and para transit including non-motorized vehicles over personalized motor vehicles; and enforce parking management strategies based on “user pays” principle designed to moderate and reduce parking demand while providing for parking needs.
 
It is also proposed to extend the super suction machines for sewer cleaning to the remaining ULBs (these machines are currently installed in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Patiala) in line with the
“THE PROHIBITION OF EMPLOYMENT AS MANUAL SCAVENGERS AND THEIR REHABILITATION ACT, 2013”. This will be done in a phased manner.
 
Towards the realization of its long term vision for the urban areas, the party proposes to bring about 100% coverage of water supply, sewerage & STP, with all sewage treatment plants to be upgraded to the latest technology to meet with the latest norms. The 100% treated waste water generated by the STPs will be used for irrigation / Industries/ gardening/dyeing/fishery/foresting/Construction purpose/Thermal plants etc. as per waste water policy, 2017.
 
Steps to improve processing and disposal of solid waste and formulation of GIS Based Master Plan are other long-term focus areas of the Congress, which is targeting Master Plans for all ULBs using state of the art technology like GIS. At present, Master Plans of only 75 towns are notified.
 
It is also proposed to ensure 24×7 Surface Water Supply in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala – blocks that have been categorized as over exploited. Projects worth Rs 1386 crore, Rs 2100 crore and Rs 2000 crore have been outlined for Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar respectively, for this purpose. For Patiala city, the Asian Development Bank has agreed to finance a Rs.717.17 crore project.
 
To bring about great transparency and citizen satisfaction through Integrated Service Delivery on anytime, anywhere basis, the Congress Party proposes a comprehensive project for introducing automation and  e-Governance across all Urban local bodies.The project shall bring transparency and accountability and build trust between the ULBs and Citizens, says the vision document.
 
It has also been decided to focus on completion and operationalization of BRTS in Amritsar and City Bus Service in other cities including introduction of e-vehicles / e-rickshaws. While in Amritsar City, a Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project amounting to Rs.495 Cr. (excluding cost of buses) has been sanctioned and the same is being implemented, the City Bus Service will be strengthened.
 
Under FAME Scheme of Department of Heavy Industries, Govt. of India, Amritsar and Ludhiana
have already submitted the proposal to avail the grant to procure electric Buses (e-Bus), electric Auto-rickshaws (e-Auto) & electric rickshaws (e-Rickshaw). Only Ludhiana and Amritsar City could avail this grant since only million plus population cities are eligible to take benefit out of this scheme. However, other Cities would be encouraged to avail other schemes of Govt. of India and to avail subsidy for introduction of electric vehicle which would be most suitable option to eradicate the pollution and traffic congestion to large extent and the same shall boost the public transport mode, said the document.