The Land of Ashoka and Chanakya has been struggling with basic civic amenities for long. One thing Patnaites are looking for in this poll season is a solution to their woes
Patna missed the ‘SmartCity’ bus in the final list which was announced by union ministry for urban development recently. Among the 17 cities from Bihar that were evaluated, Patna ranked third from bottom, scoring 35 per cent — only above Buxar and Sitamarhi, which scored 31.25 per cent each. Patna scored zero in eight out of the 15 selection criteria. All the ULBs were required to mark themselves.
Sans safe drinking water
More than half the population in Patna has no access to safe drinking water. It ranks 6th in the descending order among 14 large capital cities of India as far as open defecation is concerned, said Bhim Reddy, associate fellow, Institute for Human Development (IHD).
A large number of city residents were neither happy with the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) nor with their ward councilors, his survey has revealed.
Heaps of garbage on the city roads creating a nasty stink or overflowing drains is a frequent sight in Patna. Its residents are used to such ‘civic amenities’.
In another survey by research scholar Anjor Bhaskar, also associated with the Institute for Human development (IHD), nearly 760 tonnes of human excreta is generated daily under the Patna Municipal Corporation area and only 185 tonnes of that enter the sewage system. Bhaskar also stressed on the urgent need to have solid waste management systems and segregation of waste before disposal.
In fact, the issue of garbage lifting once dominated the question hour in Bihar legislative council in March 2013. Members cutting across party lines demanded immediate removal of garbage littered all over the city. The Patna High Court too had directed the PMC to put in place a proper garbage disposal mechanism, which would include its collection, segregation and transportation.
But, till now, neither any door-to-door garbage collection has been implemented nor has the solid waste management system become functional. A sum of Rs 26 crore was allotted to PMC under JawaharLal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in 2008 for door-to-door garbage collection.
The overall road network in the city is not adequate as less than 10 per cent of area is under circulation against the standard of 15-20 per cent. The road network system is deficient in terms of geometrics and traffic management aspects. The functional widths of the major roads are reduced to as low as 50 per cent due to encroachments, and parking on the road shoulders. Water logging due to poor drainage adds to the woes.
The reduced road width leads to increases in the volume-capacity ratio causing congestion, vehicular pollution and accidents. Mixed traffic on major roads further compounds the problem.
In a city where over 60,000 new vehicles hit the roads every year, according to additional SP, Patna, Ashok Kumar Sinha, there is acute paucity of manpower to deal with the state of affairs as nearly 50 per cent posts of traffic policemen are vacant. “Lack of permanent parking spaces for autorickshaws is a major trouble,” he said, adding that an electronic system of traffic regulation could help to some extent. The traffic cops were trying to revive the lights at Dak Bungalow crossing for the purpose.
Future not so dark
“Patna is getting adequate resources required to develop infrastructure and pan city e-governance. More than Rs 100 crore comes from the state plan. We also have funds of 14th Finance Commission, 5th State Commission, special sanitation grant and special projects under the state plan,” said urban development and housing department principal secretary Amrit Lal Meena and added Bihar was also getting Rs 248 crore under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation, 66 per cent of which is given by the state government.
A master plan to develop Bihar’s capital Patna as a metropolitan city is likely to be unveiled soon after a wait of over 30 years.”The state planning and development board has approved the master plan for Patna”, Meena said adding that Patna’s draft master plan will be sent to the state cabinet soon for its final approval.
Last year, Patna’s draft master plan was put in the public domain for suggestions and objections from the over two million residents after the state cabinet declared the “plan area” in the proposed master plan for Patna.
Meena said the new city would be spread over 1,167 sq. kms against the existing 250 sq kms. Over 600 sq. kms area has been marked as urban area, which includes setting up of two satellite towns to cater to urbanisation and population growth in the next two decades. The city will have an area of over 400 sq. kms marked as green cover. It is proposed to reserve over 16 percent of the total area for roads.