Developer In Maintenance Mode

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Nov 23, 2012

Almost an year after unleashing a high profile drive against rampant encroachments that threatened to choke the Millennium City, HUDA Administrator Dr. Praveen Kumar seems to have adopted the middle path in managing the extremes that Gurgaon represents today

“My first priority in Gurgaon was to ensure that HUDA becomes an accessible department, where people can get the work done easily. We accelerated the process of giving permissions, and issuing completion certificates,” asserts Kumar. Earlier, he says, the perception was that files won’t move in the department until ‘speed money’ was paid – but now things have changed. “Anyone can come and meet me to get an issue resolved. It is also for the first time that a camp office has been established and made functional on such a large scale,” he says. 

On ramping up Infrastructure

On the issue of building up the civic infrastructure in the City, the HUDA Administrator says that the department has cleared estimates worth Rs. 1,200 crores in the last one year – for roads, sanitation, water and drains. This spending will transform Gurgaon, he says. “More than 60 to 70 per cent of the master roads in the City have been relaid, and work is also on to repair the sector roads,” asserts Kumar. When told that some of the civic activists claim that roads were being laid under pressure from the courts and the Chief Secretary, Kumar smiles and says that there have been 3000 cases filed against HUDA on various issues. “Development is coming because we have adopted a positive agenda. Pressure of any kind won’t bring development; rather, it is the co-operation of agencies and civil society that is motivating HUDA. The whole environment has changed; there is positivity, and the reputation of the organisation has also improved in the last one year,” he stresses.

HUDA has also worked hard on improving the rainwater harvesting system in the City, with more than 500 structures under construction. Kumar says that before the next monsoon these structures will be ready to save Gurgaon from waterlogging, as well as boosting the water table. The department has already started work on building five large water storage tanks in Sikanderpur, that will augment the water supply to the City.  The infrastructure in Gurgaon is being built, but it is difficult to match the speed with which the City is growing, or has grown, he admits. The citizens also wonder when this 'excuse' will stop. 

The department has also planted almost 2 lakh saplings. The green belts and patches have been made free from encroachments, and these are also being maintained properly.

On Sanitation

The HUDA Administrator says the department has initiated the process of buying 250 Mahindra Genios (a commercial pickup vehicle), to pick garbage from the doorsteps of the residents. “We will purchase these vehicles instead of tractors, as these are fast moving and will reach Bandhwari quickly. We are also working with MCG closely on this issue,” he says.

The department, he says, has also decided to go for automation, and bring in automated vacuum cleaners and other machines for sweeping and cleaning the City. A pilot machine has already been acquired, and if the testing is successful more such will be deputed in the City. “We have observed that productivity of manual labour is quite less, as the monitoring is lax,” he says.

Another major initiative being taken up by the department is to set up a ‘waste to power’ plant in Bandhwari. This plant will ensure that garbage collected from the City is used to produce power, as is being done by the Delhi government, informs Kumar. A pilot project will be launched soon, and the discussion with MCG is on-going, he adds.

On Private Builders 

The Administrator believes that there is a strong need for the private builder colonies to shore up civic services and internal infrastructure in their areas. HUDA officials, he says, have been asked to evaluate the services being delivered by the private builders, and the department will see to it that basic minimum services are made available to the citizens. However HUDA does not have any direct jurisdiction over the private colonies, and it is only through the Department of Town and Country Planning that some of the concerns can be expressed. 

While the previous year was used to refurbish the internal systems of the department, and taking up issues in the HUDA sectors, a more rounded view of the City will be taken this year, he promises.

On housing for the Economically Weaker Sections

The HUDA Administrator confesses that the matter of EWS Housing has been on the backburner, despite this issue being very close to his heart. “Gurgaon has a huge service population that can not afford expensive housing, and it is incumbent upon the planners as well as developers to create housing for this section,” says Kumar. The Haryana government, as well as HUDA, will soon come up with some projects on EWS Housing in Gurgaon, he reveals.

When asked what was the criteria for EWS eligibility, he says that this decision was the prerogative of the District Administration. He also says that efforts are being taken to plug the misuse of EWS Housing. The private builders will not be allowed to sell the plots and houses in the open market, as the Housing Board, District Administration and related organisations have been asked by the government to create a transparent system of allotment, he points out. In addition to EWS Housing, he also wants to improve the lot of Gurgaon villages, as the residents are forced to live in a concretised slum-like condition, he says.

Transfer of HUDA sectors to MCG

On the issue of transferring the HUDA sectors to the MCG, the Administrator turns a bit reticent, and adopts a cautious approach. Obviously  he knows that it is better to wait and watch on this hot subject, as it has political undertones and is likely to impinge on the territorial jurisdiction of his own department. “I think that the transfer is an issue that will take its natural course;  for this to happen there is a need to create capacities. This transfer will require a lot of systems, processes and a wherewithal within the MCG,” says Kumar, obliquely pointing out that it could take a lot of time before such a step happens. In his opinion it does not matter whether work is done by HUDA or MCG; the primary issue is that the intent to serve the citizens should be the primary focus of these agencies.

A noble thought indeed, but then why set up the MCG?

On Gurgaon II (New Sectors)

Dr. Praveen Kumar agrees that developing the new sectors will be a major development exercise, that will require time and resources. But he insists that the Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex has been planned adequately, to ensure that new settlements get the proper infrastructure and civic facilities. This area will develop in the next 20 years, and HUDA is committed to provide quality master roads, sewerage network, drainage and other related infrastructure in this area. The work has already begun in many sectors. “The mistakes that happened in existing Gurgaon took place because it was a village 30 years back. But we have learnt our lessons, and it will be ensured that a sustainable eco-system develops in Gurgaon II, while we improve the set up in existing sectors,” he asserts. Meanwhile, residents have already started moving in...

When asked why HUDA has ceased to develop residential colonies, despite being the largest developer in Gurgaon, Kumar says it for the government to decide what the department does. “I admit that the development of real estate by HUDA has taken a backseat,” he says.

On a Gurgaon Development Authority

There have been demands in Gurgaon for creating an overarching body on the pattern of Noida Development Authority, that is headed by a CEO. When asked, Dr. Praveen Kumar opines, “In case we have good leaders then such an organisation will deliver results; but if the leadership is not of top quality then even such an authority will not be able to deliver the goods,” he says. "More than an organisation, it is important to have good people and leaders in any organisation, to get results. HUDA, MCG, and the District Administration are all functioning under one government. So it is not that we are not accountable; but unfortunately, we Indians as a whole have a laidback attitude. Both the citizens as well as the executive take their own time in responding to issues, and that is where the problem begins,” he asserts. There is also a need to understand that the government can not accomplish every thing on its own. “This is the reason we are trying to build Public-Private Partnerships, and trying to be facilitators in the growth and development of the Millennium City,” he says.

His message to the Citizens

“In Gurgaon I have seen people criticise a lot – but  their own contribution is zero. This mentality needs to change, if Gurgaon has to really become a Millennium City,” he asserts. He also promises that all efforts would be made to improve the social and cultural life, to help Gurgaon become a more interesting and close knit society. I love adventure sports, and to this end I have proposed an adventure sports park in the heart of Gurgaon, in Sector 29. The aim should be for a fitter, happier and greener Gurgaon, he signs off. 



{ Maninder Dabas / FG }

Foot Over The Chowk

I know how messy that area becomes for the commuters, especially during monsoon. But soon people will get a respite. Within three months there will a Foot Over Bridge (FOB) there. We have finalised all the details with National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), and they have agreed to bear 50 per cent of the total cost. The remaining 50 per cent will either be borne by PWD, MCG or HUDA,” said Praveen Kumar, the HUDA Administrator.

Draining Out The Water

A dry Hero Honda Chowk? HUDA has decided to construct a drain that would carry all the rain water to Khandsa drain, and the commuters would be able to pass through the Chowk without having to roll their pants, or carry their shoes in their hands. “An amount of Rs. 75 lakhs have been sanctioned to construct a drain till Khandsa drain, that would take out all the water from Hero Honda Chowk in the monsoon season; and there would thus be no unnecessary traffic jams on the roads. I hope this job would get finished within a few months,” added Kumar.

Relaying The Roads

“In the last few months we have constructed slip roads on almost all the major chowks of the City, and now we have shifted our focus to the major roads. We have awarded a contract of 21 roads to a single contractor, and the work is going on at a rapid pace,” added Kumar. However, the quality of the roads is seriously under the scanner. “No doubt HUDA has done a commendable job as far as the roads are concerned. But I seriously doubt the quality of the roads being laid. I believe they won’t be able to survive the next monsoon season,” said Sanjeev Saxena, a resident of Sector-45


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