A changing city

Published : Oct 24, 2008 00:00 IST

A 1.5-km stretch on the northern bank of the Godavari has been developed as a promenade. A view from the old bridge on the river.-PHOTOGRAPHS: G. SANJEEV REDDY

A 1.5-km stretch on the northern bank of the Godavari has been developed as a promenade. A view from the old bridge on the river.-PHOTOGRAPHS: G. SANJEEV REDDY

The face of Nanded is slowly changing as planners set out on a transforming mission under the JNNURM.

NANDED in Maharashtra is one of 63 cities in India that are undergoing a transformation under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Development managers in the city are confident that Nanded will soon be an important centre of learning, an industrial hub and a tourist destination.

The Nanded Waghala City Municipal Corporation (NWCMC) was selected for the development thrust because of the Takhat Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib, which is at present the focus of festivities in connection with the tercentenary celebrations of the elevation of Guru Granth Sahib as the perpetual Sikh Guru. The development of Nanded city under the JNNURM is, therefore, closely linked to the planning for the festivities.

Once the infrastructure development is complete, the city will attract investment, paving the way for the opening of quality educational institutions, said District Collector Radheshyam Mopalwar, who leads a team of dedicated officials. Two Special Economic Zones [SEZs] and a couple of CBSE [Central Board of Secondary Education] and an ICSE [Indian School Certificate Examination] schools are already in the pipeline, he said.

Municipal Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said, The JNNURM was launched in December 2005 on the basis of a city development plan prepared by the NWCMC. Plans for infrastructure development under the JNNURM will be executed by the year 2011. The plan was designed to meet the needs for civic amenities in the next 25 to 30 years, when the population is expected to increase at least fourfold, from the present 5 lakh to about 19 lakh in 2038.

The JNNURM plan comprises schemes to develop water supply, sewerage, storm-water disposal and river-front facelifts, improve roads and develop slums under a scheme called the Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP). The initial cost estimation was Rs.2,081 crore. However, a more workable figure of Rs.1,300 crore to Rs.1,400 crore was arrived at, said Mhaisekar.

The urban development plan was drawn up by IL&FS Urban Infrastructure Services Limited (IUISL), Mumbai, the infrastructure managers for the development process. Subsequently, a memorandum of agreement was executed between the NWCMC, the Government of Maharashtra and the Government of India on July 29, 2006. The government had approved 10 projects under the JNNURM.

Collector Mopalwar said: With the Gurta Gaddi celebrations approaching, we had to demarcate our priorities clearly. Accordingly, we decided to complete the prioritised works first. Developing roads that lead to Nanded town as well as those that will be used during the celebrations and improving water supply and sewage disposal are on the priority list in view of the large numbers of pilgrims expected to visit the city during the festivities.

The toughest challenge posed by the development projects is, perhaps, to address problems arising out of large-scale dislocations. In Nanded, 2,900 properties were demolished partially or fully, mostly in order to widen roads and develop the gurdwara premises.

The Collector said, There was no unreasonable resistance from the people barring just two cases. Mhaisekar added, It was in consultation with the local people that all demolitions were done. Even prayer houses were demolished in the process. Police assistance was not required even in a single instance.

Work on developing civic amenities started in January 2007. In the short span of time since then, the NWCMC has introduced its own public transport system. The corporation now owns a fleet and runs buses in the city under a public-private partnership. In some of the new bus routes, even riding a two-wheeler used to be difficult not so long ago.

The presence of the Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib, one of the five Takhats of the Sikh faith, means that Nanded is a potential tourist destination. City planners are now trying to enhance that potential by developing certain other sites in the city that could be of interest to tourists.

The Municipal Commissioner said: We are restoring the old Nanded fort from which the place gets its name. The city was originally known as Nanda Tat or the river bank, obviously because it had flourished on the banks of the Godavari. We are developing the Godavari waterfront, which will eventually offer water sports. Pilgrims visiting Nanded should be able to extend their stay because of these additions. The museum on Sikh history and the Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan are also expected to draw tourists. A laser show in the Gobind Baug will be one of its kind in Asia.

However, improving access to the city is the most important aspect of the citys new tourist-friendly face. All the five access roads around Nanded are being upgraded into four-lane roads. A new airstrip operates regular flights to Mumbai. The railway network also links the city to the rest of the country.

shakti peeths

A 1.5-km stretch on the northern bank of the Godavari has been transformed under a waterfront development project at a cost of over Rs.43 crore. This stretch has been developed in view of the Gurta Gaddi celebrations. Some of the historic gurdwaras are located on this side and are expected to draw a large number of pilgrims. The complete plan envisages development of ghats of a length 5 km on either bank of the river and facilities for water sports.

A Godavari Riverfront Development Authority will be in place by the time the waterfront plans are fully executed. The formation of such a body clearly indicates the priorities of the planners and the importance the place will enjoy on the tourist map of Nanded, and eventually of Maharashtra.

The area around the ghats is paved with granite tiles. There are changing rooms and rest rooms. The lamp posts are old-fashioned in keeping with the ambience of the place.

The Godavari is mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib. Each pilgrim carries a pitcher of water from the river on Narak Chaturdashi and pours it on the Sachkhand Hazur Sahib gurdwara in a symbolic act, a function that is called Takhat ishnan. So there is enough reason to develop the waterfront, Mopalwar said.

The roads to and those within Nanded are being improved under a plan called Improvement in Movement Network as part of JNNURM. Besides seven new bridges and a new subway, a total of 50 km of internal roads will be laid at a cost of Rs.334.21 crore. Twenty-six km of new road stretches will be ready by the time the Gurta Gaddi celebrations start.

Road number 34, a newly laid 900-metre stretch that connects the Devagiri rest house with Pavdawadi, is a good example of the imaginative way in which the plan is being executed. Keeping in mind the different types of road users, we conducted surveys that included studies on land use and typical engineering and topographical surveys. It took about 14 months to design the ideal roads for this city, said Sanjeev Patil, senior manager, IUISL.

The 18-metre-wide road has 2.5-metre-wide pavements on either side and also a cycle track. There is the multi-utility corridor where the road can be dug without disturbing the traffic on the carriageway. This corridor also accommodates hawkers and has space for public toilets. There are spaces for parking vehicles and bus bays. In addition, the road has enough space for planting trees and shrubs, which have been brought from Rajahmundry town in Andhra Pradesh.

We brought in a cycle track expert from the Netherlands to prepare an appropriate design, said Jiten Hindocha, senior vice-president of IUISL. The street lighting has built-in energy savers and the positioning and location of the lamps makes the light easy on the eye.

The road development plan includes five four-lane roads leading into the city and a 570-metre-long four-lane bridge across the Godavari.

In view of the Gurta Gaddi celebrations, we had to first tackle the problem of water supply and sewerage, said Mhaisekar. The planning also kept in mind the estimated increase in population over the next 25 years.

The outlay sanctioned for water supply was Rs.141 crore and that for sewerage was Rs.169 crore. The pipeline for the water supply system runs to a length of about 316 km, while the sewers run up to a cumulative length of 248 km. There are 18 new elevated storage reservoirs, which are expected to meet the citys water needs until the year 2025.

The main source of water supply is the Vishnupuri storage dam across the Godavari, about 7 km from Nanded. The water pumped from here will be treated at plants located on either side of the river, each with a capacity of 35 million litres a day (MLD). The city already has the capacity to treat 99 MLD of water. The NWCMC has plans for 24-hour water supply following execution of plans under the JNNURM, the Municipal Commissioner said. Two new sewage treatment plants are also planned.

Nanded city has 80 slums that are home to roughly 33 per cent of its population. These slums will also be developed under the JNNURM. The focus is on housing, and the cost is estimated to be Rs.330 crore. In all 11,952 houses have been planned for the slums under the BSUP scheme. By the end of January 2009, the NWCMC expects to complete 984 houses. The slum development will also include provisions for open spaces.

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