We thought of creating a greater Ranchi but then there is opposition from various groups. “We will sacrifice our lives but not our land”. Now both the things are not possible. We cannot take anybody’s land forcibly. They have to be convinced
We see urbanization is a fact that governments across India are facing. You are also urban development minister of Jharkhand. Since the time your government came to power in Jharkhand, what is the vision that you moving ahead with?
The first thing that we have to recognise is that urban population is burgeoning every day. People from villages are migrating to cities in large numbers. They come to cities with their dreams. When they come to cities they expect a better living standard, basic civic amenities like good roads, street lights, cleanliness, parks, bus stands and other basic needs that they look for. In addition they wish for a better accommodation. The wish of Prime Minister Modi is that every citizen in this country should have their own house by 2022. We are building houses under Pradhan Mantri Aawas Yojana. We are also building toilets in every house if it’s not there. Also we are building community toilets in crowded areas.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is a crucial and critical project of the government of India. What have you done in this regard?
Yes. We have taken it on priority. We have made urinals in the streets so that people don’t relieve themselves in the open. In Jharkhand all the cities and towns are open defecation free. We are trying to improve upon it. Sewerage and drainages are being laid. In addition let me add that street lights have been changed. We have replaced them with LED lights. Even in the houses it is being
Another big scheme of the government is skill mission. What is being done on that front?
It’s a dream project of Prime Minister. He believes that there are all kind of people in cities, well educated, less educated, poor people. Our young generation is sitting unemployed. The idea is to skill them so that they get employment. They are being skilled and just skill them and leave them alone but also ensure that they get the placement. People are looking at cities and towns for a better future and the policies of government are directed towards that. But let me add we are not just concentrating on cities. We are equally concerned about villages. We are working on both.
Right, I have travelled in Jharkhand for last few days. I saw that the condition of roads and highways is very good. But as said earlier that people are migrating from villages to cities, it is causing congestion. How are you trying to deal with that?
I believe that when a city is being set up it must be according to new and modern ideas. What has happened is that people in the real estate sector, in the greed of making more money, did not focus on infrastructure. For example, they did not leave space for the roads and narrowed it. There was a movement for Jharkhand state for many years but nobody thought that it will become a reality one day. But when it happened, it came with its own problems. Take for example Ranchi. It became capital once Jharkhand came into existence. Roads are the same. If you want to make it wider the problem that you face is that no one is willing to give land. And this does not apply only to roads. It’s true for any project you want to take up for public good. Land is a big problem. The construction of ring road ran into problem precisely because of this reason. But I hope this will be sorted out soon and construction will be completed. Once that happens the big vehicles will not come inside the city. We are trying to set up a transport hub outside the city, that will also help to mitigate the situation. There is a need to create awareness that we also need to focus on our civic sense. This cannot just be the responsibility of the government, every citizen has to cooperate. This is true not just about Ranchi but all other cities in the state. If we take the overall national picture, today Jharkhand though lagging behind is in a much better state. I am looking at 2050. More and more people will migrate to cities. And from that point of view there is a problem. We thought of creating a greater Ranchi but then there is opposition from various groups. We will sacrifice our lives but not our land. Now both the things are not possible. We cannot take anybody’s land forcibly. They have to be convinced. We are trying to get rid of congestion.
You made an important point that Jharkhand is lagging behind so far as urbanization is concerned. It’s such a rich state in terms of natural resources and industrial production such as minerals, then why is it so?
Let’s not look at it just in terms of Jharkhand. I believe and if you look at it closely you will find that in any mineral rich state whether in India or even in other countries the situation is the same. Take for example South Africa, it’s a mineral rich country but the situation is the same. Now what exactly is the reason behind it, I have not gone deeper into it. But if I try to analyse it, I once went to Chennai and found there are 18000 thousand villages. It’s a big state. Jharkhand is a small state but it has 32000 villages. But I can say this much that irrigation facilities have been provided in the villages and it will stop migration from villages to the cities. What I am saying is based on 2011 census, when the next census happens there will be drastic changes.
So what is your assessment on migration? Have the numbers gone down or gone up?
No, there is no decrease of numbers. People are still coming in large numbers. The population is increasing by the day. Land is limited in a family and then there are divisions. So that land is not enough for a person to sustain his family so he is going to cities to earn. The population is increasing in the cities because there are better opportunities of employment whether inside Jharkhand or out of the state.
Finally let me ask you; Government of Jharkhand has signed a MoU with All India Institute of Local Self-Government to skill the youth of Jharkhand. Two mega skill centres have become operational at Ranchi and Madhupur. They are getting placements as well. Your thoughts?
AIILSG is doing great work in the state. The good thing is that the youth who are getting skilled are being placed as well. That is what the vision of the government is. I know there are long term policies and immediate results may not be seen. But I hope our partners like AIILSG will keep up the momentum.