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Four satellite townships to be developed

Posted on May 09, 2013
Minister for Housing and Urban Development Sudhir Sharma today announced that the state government would develop four new satellite townships in the state at Dharamsala, Shimla, Mandi and Solan.
He has tried to revive a project that was also conceived by the previous BJP government. However, the project failed to take off due to non-availability of land.
The previous government had planned to develop satellite townships around major cities and towns in the state. The then Minister for Urban Development Kishan Kapoor had given public statements that in Dharamsala land was identified near Gaggal airport for developing a satellite township.
The idea behind developing satellite townships is to bring up planned habitations to ease population growth in towns. All major towns of the state are presently marred by unplanned growth that is stressing public utilities.
However, the urban development authority in the state has failed to bring up planned housing colonies at a pace at which the population of towns is growing. In Dharamsala, almost all villages around the town have been urbanised. Villages, including Khaniara, Dharamkot, Bhagsu and Dhari, are a part of the main Dharamsala town.
However, just one planned colony has been developed at Khaniara by the authorities.
Private developers are picking up small pieces of land in villages around Dharamsala for carving out plots. However, such illegal colonies are only adding to the woes of the already-cluttered town. The maximum passage that is allowed in such private colonies is just 8 to 10 feet or even smaller, which is not enough even for plying a car. The result is that residents of such colonies have to park cars on main roads adjoining such colonies.
Even office or commercial complexes coming up in and around the town are not adhering to the norms fixed by the Town and Country Planning Department. Most of the complex owners are not keeping any parking places. People coming to these complexes park their vehicles along roadsides.
In Palampur, the government has decided to include a few villages adjoining the town into the local municipal committee. However, villagers are opposing the move vehemently. They are maintaining that villages get much more privileges as compared to towns. They get benefits of the Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) and the charges of water and electricity in villages are lower than those in the urban areas.
The state has also failed to promote private developers who can develop townships in interior areas of the state. Private developers cannot take up ventures on their own due to small land holdings and provisions of Section 118 of the Land Tenancy Act. Some developers are selling flats and building apartments in areas around Chandigarh but they have not entered far-flung areas of the state.
However, now even the flats cannot be developed as the previous government had scrapped the Apartments Act. The state government would again have to bring back the Apartments Act to development satellite townships. The present unplanned development is not only straining the resources of the state but also damaging the environment.
The government would either have to use its own agencies for developing planned colonies or frame a policy for encouraging private investment in the area for planned growth of urban areas.
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