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Posted at: Mar 21, 2017, 1:42 AM; last updated: Mar 21, 2017, 1:42 AM (IST)MY AGENDA: NAVJOT SINGH SIDHU, LOCAL BODIES MINISTER

Need to bring all urban planning agencies under one roof

Need to bring all urban planning agencies under one roof
Navjot Singh Sidhu, Local bodies minister
Sarbjit Dhaliwal and Sanjeev Singh Bariana

‘My first response on assuming the charge is that the urban dwellings are in an absolute mess. I have learnt that only 12 per cent of the urban population has access to safe drinking water, 37 per cent to sewerage, 34 per cent to roads and just 4 per cent to parks,’ said Navjot Singh Sidhu, Local Bodies Minister.

“I have communicated to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh that urban development will remain half-done job if the departments dealing with urban population are not brought under one roof and command,” he said.

Explaining it further, Sidhu said: “As of now, there are multiple bodies like PUDA, improvement trusts, town planning and civic bodies dealing with cities, towns and nagar panchayats. The Centre has one department under the Ministry of Urban Development to handle all affairs related to the urban population. The same should be followed here.”

About his mission, Sidhu said: “I will make my department serve people on their doorstep and spare them the inconvenience of making rounds of government offices. As a first step, I will ensure that no one has to visit the municipal body office for birth or death or for other such tasks. Such services will soon be available online.”

On challenges facing his department, he said: “Raising funds will be a major concern. Most civic bodies hardly have enough money for development works. Besides, the supply of contaminated drinking water in the urban areas is a concern. I would like that canal water is provided to all cities and towns. It is shocking to learn that sewage is flowing in drinking water pipes at many places. A detailed plan has been sought.” 

“Being an elected representative of the constituency, an MLA has a better understanding of the problems of his area. I have asked my department to be an absolute facilitator for the public works.

“There will be complete decentralisation of powers and the MLAs will communicate to the department about the works they want to get done in their respective constituencies,” he said.

The minister said: “In Punjab, the process of urbanisation is the fastest in the country because of migration of population from rural areas to urban. By 2035, the urban-rural population ratio would be 50:50 against 40:60 now.”

He said he would request the CM to ask the Centre to include two more cities, Patiala and Bathinda, in the smart cities project. 

In an important message to his staff, he said: “I have learnt that some employees are working in the houses of senior officers. If any employee on the rolls is found doing personal work of any officer, the authorities concerned will be held responsible and taken to task.”

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