Dehradun: 5 November, 2015
At a meeting of the Mussoorie-Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA), in which citizens and stakeholders in the smart city project participated, it was decided that the state government would go ahead with the development of Dehradun as a smart city regardless of whether or not it was listed among the top 20 such cities by the Government of India.
MDDA will kick-start work on Dehradun as smart city, with expert advice and financial support from a Chinese engineering firm and Tongji University, China, that were involved in the development of Shanghai and several other satellite cities across the globe.
A new Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) comprising experts in city planning and development will soon be formed to aid in planning the development of Dehradun so that urbanization is in sync with the carrying capacity of the land and also the requirements of the city population.
Among the biggest priorities for the SPV is forming a land bank so a satellite city can be planned. The Uttarakhand state cabinet had given the nod to the land pooling policy on October 31. Four development authorities across the state are set now to implement this policy.
The state government had formed such a policy earlier too, but it did not yield good results - Greater Dehradun is one glaring example of that failure. Taking stock of lessons learned from past experience, and studying the policy followed in Andhra Pradesh, MDDA had developed this new policy, a senior official of the MDDA told TOI.
Vice-chairperson of MDDA Meenakshi Sundaram, who is also the head of the Uttarakhand Housing Urban Development Authority (UHUDA), told TOI, "Through this policy Andhra Pradesh government (since Telangana was carved out of it) could easily possess nearly 54,000 acres of land, on which its new capital city, Amravati, is planned. Today farmers as well as development authorities are living happily in a win-win situation. We expect that with this policy in place, land owners in Uttarakhand too would be able to differentiate between the financial value of serviced land vis-a-vis agriculture land. In a given condition, if development authority purchases 10 bigha agriculture land from a farmer and two bigha of 'serviced urban' land is given to the farmer, he should understand it will any day have higher value than the agriculture land. The entire cost of developing infrastructure in that agriculture plot will be borne by the development authority."
Sundaram explained that the land possession process will be conducted under three strategies -- all vacant government land will be transferred to development authority; also,
2,000 acres of tea estates of Dehradun will be purchased; and in the third strategy, a pooling process will be put into motion, under which the development authority will approach individuals to purchase their land. Litigation will be avoided, as this land acquisition will be done with consent.
Sundaram said that if stakeholders of tea gardens fail to reach a mutual agreement with the development authority, then land would be "acquired" under the relevant act.
Sundaram said the development authority is faced with some urgency in acquiring land, as it has to submit a smart city proposal to the Centre by December 15, 2015, and by that time, it will have to zero in on land for the development of the Greenfield city.