‘Given the infrastructure, you can’t open FSI’

P VAIDYANATHAN IYER:Given this issue of governance, changing leadership and bureaucracy, what interventions are possible by the private sector?

NARINDER NAYAR:We have discussed important projects. We had undertaken a study on the impact of reclamation in Mumbai. I got in touch with World Bank, which told me The Netherlands had extensive experience in reclamation as three-fourth of the country was reclaimed. We invited experts from there. They made two visits and a presentation. CM said since the seven islands of Mumbai were reclaimed, the state should conduct a study. Mumbai Transformation Support Unit has been asked to do the study on the consequences of reclamation. We take up issues through the empowered committee.

ZEESHAN SHAIKH:How receptive is the state government to ideas floated by private organisations? In the Pedder Road viaduct project, the empowered committee suggested an underpass but the government agency is going ahead with a flyover.

NN:The state government is receptive, but the system takes a long time. We suggested connectivity to open up the hinterland — the transharbour link.

You may say the link talk is going on since the '60s, but the fact remains nothing happened till we revived the concept. East-west connectivity, too, did not happen until we came into the picture. We brought connectivity via Metro Rail on the agenda and then MMRDA appointed consultants and commissioned a study. However, nine corridors are yet to be completed and there is no proper planning.

SMITA NAIR:In Singapore, there is a master plan and a concept plan. They have gone into details such as schoolchildren suggesting how they can make pavements beautiful. How much of the Mumbai concept plan did the common man know?

NN:The concept plan is a vision document, not a detailed master plan. It is to be consulted to prepare master plans of different areas. During preparation of the concept plan, several meetings were held by the Singapore consultant with NGOs, and residents participated. Our task is to get the concept plan accepted by the government. As per the bureaucratic process, the concept plan has to go through the metropolitan planning committee (MPC). Unfortunately, MPC doesn't exist. So, the first thing the state is doing is forming it. We have suggested since there is no MPC let the concept plan go straight to the cabinet.

MANASI PHADKE:Surbana International, the Singapore consultant, submitted the concept plan in 2011. How serious is the government about it? Pending its approval, local bodies are making own development plans.

NN:That is the reason we had a meeting with representatives of all local bodies in Mumbai metropolitan region recently. We hope they will approve it soon. A reason for the delay is the Singapore consultant has suggested land reclamation, which is not a bad word in other parts of the world. There was a lot of opposition to the suggestion of reclaiming, people said there would be ill- effects. So, we suggested a study.

P VAIDYANATHAN IYER:Ajay Maken, Union minister for housing and poverty alleviation, was suggesting the other day throwing open FSI in Mumbai was the need of the hour. However, developing sufficient infrastructure will take 15-20 years. What can be done till then?

NN:Given the infrastructure, you can't open FSI. You have cluster development. Our original idea was to look at a fairly large, 25-acre, area and focus on developing it. Put infrastructure in place before giving builders permission to build. Unfortunately, the 25 acres were reduced to 4, and eventually 1. Plus, some infrastructure projects are very slow. The problem is also that the heads of different agencies are there only for one or two years and set limited agenda.

MAYURA JANWALKAR:How feasible is public-private partnership in health sector? Seven Hills has not worked.

NN:PPP has to be made to work. It can be successful if there is good coordination between public and private players.

SHUBHANGI KHAPRE:We are talking about profit, but look at the big hospitals. They got land at concessional rates, but we don't see reserved beds for poor patients.

NN:It is the responsibility of the organisation to execute.

MANASI PHADKE:A recent report by Centre for Policy Research claims PPP does not necessarily bring additional money because the government has to compensate by allowing private players to collect user charge or give real estate component.

NN:See, people have immense confidence in the private sector. People are ready to contribute when private sector is involved.

MANASI PHADKE:The government is in the process of changing the MMRDA rental housing scheme to an affordable housing one to sell houses through a lottery system. Rental housing was spoken of as an important project to stem proliferation of slums, what do you think of the change?

NN:It is true when they say rental housing is difficult to execute as a government agency cannot be in the business of collecting rent. They are looking into all these problems. MMRDA is doing one thing, MHADA is doing another. They cannot look at the issue in isolation. They have to look at who will maintain the houses, who will collect rent.

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