The objectives of the UIDSSMT scheme are
1. Improve infrastructural facilities and help create durable public assets and quality oriented services in cities and towns
2. Enhance public – private partnership in infrastructural development
3. Promote planned integrated development of cities and towns
However, the UIDSSMT scheme will not cover the areas as follows:
• Power and telecommunication works
• Rolling stock like buses and trams
• Health and educational institutions
• Urban transport (MRTS, LRTS etc)
• Wage employment programme and staff component
• Maintenance works
You can download and read Ahmednagar city development plan (20 MB size) at http://amc.gov.in/Administration/Final%20CDP.pdf You may ask for the latest version of document under Right To Information Act from Ahmednagar corporation. This document is available at Nagari GOOGLE group as well. Be patient while downloading. It takes time. The document doesn't have content/index you can see in left pane of acrobat reader. All citizens and kids who study civics/administration (Nagarick Shastra) class should study the document thoroughly and comment on it using this blog or writing/visiting municipal corporation and asking citizens to get actively involved in it. As the document says - The success of the City Development Plan depends on the extent of people participation. As it is very rightly said “Planning is an exercise ‘For’ the people, ‘Of’ the people and ‘By’ the people.”
Executive Summary in document is missing. Too many names are named in this document. Who are these people who can't summarize the document? Send them back to school. With due respect to people who worked on creating this document, the document should be about district/city/citizens, not personal glory. How many of these people can actually write reports or their original thoughts in English? Is this document translated in Marathi/Hindi/Urdu? Not every citizen in Ahmednagar district can read in English. Next time, you show such document to the world, make sure that spell check is done (including integrated scanned reports). It is a bad sign of governance/administration.
Considering you tolerated my gripe till here, let us talk about real issues about city/district. The sad part in policy making process in India is young people (under 18 years old, 42.3 crore under 18? 49 crore under 21? 2011 census) will have no vote/say to select policy making teams/decisions. That should be more than 1/3 (one third) of India now. All such policy decisions should be made keeping those descendants in mind. So, what should city planning document achieve by 2031? In one statement, my take on this is - The city/district (i.e. citizens) should provide clean air, safe water and 24-hour a day carbon free energy (electricity etc.) keeping community spirit alive. If our grandchildren/great-grandchildren are having trouble to breathe clean air, can't get safe water to drink or don't have carbon free energy (electricity, gas etc.) to work, read books or use laptops, or can't involve in community initiatives to develop world, then we will fail. All other problems of the district/city (population control, diseases, pollution, poverty, waste management, water management, loosing farmland, malnutrition, bad crops/vegetables/food etc.) can be seen connected to these three things.
Here are few more thoughts/questions after reading 160+ pages document. I am not much focused on infrastructure issues (water drainage, traffic, archaeological sites etc.).
The numbers shown in parenthesis e.g. (8-9) are page numbers shown in footer of the document.
Data gaps/problems: I do see the MIS (Management Information System (8-9)) reference in document. We do census counting every ten years. Why is census counting not real time, at least in Ahmednagar district? Why city is using 2001 census data in 2007 city planning document? Does it tell us city lacks handling real time issues or can't use technology to collect data periodically to analyse? Does city have shared data with other municipal corporations/cities/state/countries to understand the problems and implement solutions faster by creating common knowledge base? The city should also begin calculating Domestic Product at city level just like NDDP to compare with economies in other cities all over India/world.
Here is one example of how data can be used to understand the world - Myths about the developing world - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUwS1uAdUcI
Web-site(http://amc.gov.in/): It sucks to the core. The people who created that web-site should look into Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad corporation web-sites. Use wikipedia marathi font so that not every user has to download your junk font and wikipedia marathi font is standardized. Looks like they are using cheap ISP to host web-site. It is slow for broadband Internet connection. It takes ages to download city planning document. Buy better hardware and bandwidth if you are hosting the web-site.
Statues: It is a waste of money. Don't spend any money on statues. Put that money to create free science labs/libraries for citizens. Remove those statues/gates if they are hindrance to infrastructure.
Tourism: Promote Ahmednagar as ecotourism spot for International/national travelers who are visiting Pune, Mumbai, Aurangabad. Create few best quality (high definition) tourism promotional videos and put them on Internet etc. Distribute them all over the world. Create 'tourism' section with digitized map of the city marking places to visit at your web-site amc.gov.in. Offer bus/bicycle tours and free maps to see Ahmednagar in a day. Offer free Internet hotspots (preferably wireless) for travelers. Create kiosks all over prime tourist cities/villages in India to distribute tourism information of Ahmednagar.
Maps (1-4, 1-6): There are snapshots of map of city in document. Why don't they sell the entire map in shops so that travelers can buy them? Municipal corporation could give free maps to all schools/colleges. Municipal corporation should digitize the map and post it on its web-site (amc.gov.in) in pdf/html/other formats.
Environment/Dry climate: Why solar energy initiatives are not explored in all villages in Ahmednagar? I know initial installation of solar energy is bit costly, but it is initial cost only. Since UIDSSMT scheme doesn't cover power and telecom works(1-9), this is necessary for citizens to get together and implement them with help of civic bodies? Also, all vehicles should implement carbon free emission solutions. Increase biogas solutions than using coal/wood in villages.
(Ref: United Nations Solar Energy programme - http://www.uneptie.org/energy/act/fin/india/)
2.1.4 Literacy rate (2-2): 77%. I don't know what criteria is used to calculate this, but just giving speaking tri-lingual (e.g. English/Hindi/Marathi) test which citizens have studied in schools for years, I will say 90% will fail this literacy test. What does it tell us? Do we have substandard education/schools/teachers/students/citizens? Get rid of that rote schooling. Make kids think in schools, not cram. Study cultures of not only reputed Indian universities, but also international universities like Oxford, Cambridge, Stanford, MIT, Harvard. Keep English as third language in Ahmednagar after Marathi and Hindi. Speak all three languages well. Teach/Speak excellent English in non-english medium schools.
(Ref: Indian school http://www.open2.net/indianschool/programmes2007.html
Indian school 1 of 10 - http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4838256204887103663 )
2.2.2 Work Force Participation rate:
15% of the total female population is reported working in Ahmednagar city. That is really bad. This has to be increased up to 50% if you want to live like in developed countries in Europe/North America. Ask married men to share home chores (cooking/children etc.). According to women gender gap report, India is 99th among 116 countries. Out of 116 countries, the other rankings of India are
110 - Economic Participation and Opportunity Rank - Women in India don't have much economic independence.
102 - Educational Attainment Rank - Competitive global education is lacking in women, especially in rural India. Girls drop out from schools in earlier life to work at home/get married early due to 18th century ideas of Indian culture. Families prefer boys to girls under idiotic ideas of extending family name (kuldeepak, kulache nav wadhwel?) in world.
103 - Health and Survival Subindex Rank - Women in India are not healthy compare to women in other parts of the world.
That shows women in Ahmednagar are dull, unhealthy, slow to catch up with global world, thanks to 18th century mindsets of men/families in Ahmednagar. We need confident women like Chand Bibi, Lalita Gupte, Aruna Roy, Ela Bhatt(SEWA), Aruna Kalpana Morparia (ICICI), Mira Nair(Director) in Ahmednagar. In Ahmednagar, we need successful women oriented business stories like Shri Mahila Griha Udyog (Lijjat Papad). Eve teasing/Harassment/Domestic violence/unbalanced sex ratio/dowry/discrimination against women are bad signs of society. Ahmednagar should not be such society. I am not a feminist and I don't like bias based on gender. I do believe women should have equal chance to compete in this world. My father's and previous generations have not given that equal chance to women.
In India, men spend far less time engaged in housework than women. Presently, agriculture is the primary source to earn for rural women in India. Educated women with gainful employment give bigger voice in decision making within family. That voice helps to raising healthy and educated families by teaching of moral values and culture, resulting in better society. To measure your city/village is developed/progressive or not, you should look at how women are treated and developed in your village/city. Why Ahmednagar is not developed yet?
(Ref: The State of the World's Children 2007: Women and Children - The double dividend of gender equality - http://www.unicef.org/sowc07/, http://www.unicef.org/sowc07/docs/sowc07.pdf (160 pages)
http://www.unicef.org/sowc07/docs/sowc07_rosa.pdf (44 pages, page 19, specific to south Asia)
Gender Gap Report-2006 http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/gcp/Gender%20Gap/index.htm)
Agriculture land (51% to 33%) (2-5, 2-6): Get rid of water intensive crops like sugarcane. Green revolution has eroded the soil. Overuse of heavily subsidized urea fertilizer is degrading soil more and more. Bring sustainability(ecology) in farming. How are you going to tackle deforestation/biodiversity issues? Did you involve any scientists from universities to study these issues? How about Rahuri Krishi Vidyapith?
(Ref: The Violence of Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology and Politics (book) by Vandana Shiva)
Residential land (11% to 39%) (2-5, 2-6): That is challenging, just by looking at current population and facilities in Ahmednagar. It means we are going to grab (39 - 11 = 28%) farm-land to construct buildings etc. Did we have any reports on impact on biodiversity because of this? How are we going to do 28% forestation (tree planting) of the land for sustained living? Are we going to plant more and more trees all over the city? Which trees need to be planted that take less water, grow faster, can live in eroded soil and have long lasting life (say up to 100 years)?
(Ref: Unbowed (book) by Wangari Maathai
Chipko Movement - Sundarlal Bahuguna http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipko_movement
Land for Recreation (1% to 2%) (2-5, 2-6): I am not knowledgeable about architecture. India has excellent history of town planning like Harappa/Indus Valley Civilization. Sadly, present India is an epitome of bad urban planning. I hope Ahmednagar has excellent Architects, civil engineers and students who know town planning inside out. Study Figure 2.4 and 2.5 (pi-charts) about current and proposed land use classification of city created by town planning department. Here is the question to all Architects/Engineers in Ahmednagar - Where did those numbers come from in pi-charts? out of hats? On what basis it is decided land for recreation will be increased by 1% only till 2031? That is insane. Kids are already suffocating by lack of recreational space in Ahmednagar. We are also trying to promote Ahmednagar for tourism. Tourists like to see/relax/play in parks/sporting grounds. Parks are also a good example of conservation of trees. The number of old people will increase by 2031. What are the proposed guidelines for land for recreational use based on books and laws on town planning, considering factors like - existing population and its growth, tree planting-conservation of forests, soil erosion/conservation etc.? I am not an architect, but just looking at the city itself, I see the city needs improvement in recreational activities. What are you trying to build city as - steaming pressure cooker with 2% ventilation for recreation?
(Ref: Building the Ecological City (book) by Rodney R. White - just mentioning this book to attract attention to ecological design.
Chinese cities of the future - Page 271 - Worldchanging (book) by Alex Steffen )
Water: United Nation's Millennium Project notes the world simply has "no more rivers to take water from". Do we have rainwater harvesting projects? http://edugreen.teri.res.in/EXPLORE/water/conser.htm
Population growth is putting severe pressure on water resources all over the world primarily in India and China.
In 2050, the world will have 9 billion people and average income will be four times what it is today. India and China have been able to feed their populations because they use water in an unsustainable way. That is no longer possible.
(Ref: Plan B 2.0 - Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (book) by Lester R. Brown http://www.earth-policy.org/Books/PlanB_contents.htm
The Looming Global Water Crisis http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4147048147942488595 )
4.7 Electricity (4-14) : Street lighting requires huge power supply and in return requires huge expenditure which both Ahmednagar Municipal Corporation and MSEB are not able to afford at present. Any volunteers to implement these solutions? Study alternative energy resources (Solar/Wind etc.) Read 'swot analysis' section below.
( Ref: Rick Smalley - Our Energy challenge - Presentation: http://smalley.rice.edu/smalley.cfm?doc_id=4862
India: Environmental Issues http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/indiaenv.html )
Poverty/Education in slum areas: We will need volunteers/sponsors/donors to teach kids in slum areas. Internet/Technology has changed the face of education. You can download educational videos on Internet, buy educational dvds and show them using projector using laptop/dvd player now. Volunteers should have in-depth knowledge of the subject so that she/he can answer the questions on the spot immediately. This is called reducing 'Digital Divide'. You could do this by setting free libraries in slum areas as well. Make sure that Education is in English medium so that kids can at least attempt to learn in English.
(Ref: India Untouched: The Forgotten Face of Rural Poverty (book) - Abraham George
Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts (book) by P. Sainath
one laptop/tablet per child - OLPC - http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2454177915360000762
Taxes/Property taxes etc. (8-3): I was watching Right To Information (RTI) Act video. Do you have any Right To Information questions based on this CDP document? In RTI video, Anna Hazare says - Out of ONE rupee, only 12 paisas reach to people. Why don't citizens develop volunteer projects (e.g. building a road, solar energy plan, water conservation, free library etc.) using tax money without directly paying to municipal corporation? At the end of year, just ask community to submit expenses of the projects. Citizens may also need additional funding from corporation through state/central government. If corporation can reduce the costs of projects, they can involve with the project to reduce cost, not as hindrance of governance/administration. Transparent/Responsible allocation of money will be needed by citizens to implement these volunteer projects. We will need to avoid cheating/corruption by citizens here. Citizens can submit periodic status of the projects (electronically) till completion to MIS department of municipal corporation. Replicate cost effective successful projects in other communities. Also, punish cheaters of taxes.
(Ref: Common Man's Empowerment - Maharashtra Right to Information http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3273483676514380008 )
I don't see a single strength as community in 'strength' section. The countries are primarily developed due to research in science and technology. Bring some science and technology initiatives in opportunities. Make kids/citizens think in schools/homes/villages. Don't compare swot analysis with neighbouring cities like Pune/Aurangabad, do it based on building a global ecological city. When are you going to think globally/glocally? Dry climate could be used as strength in terms of implementing solar energy solutions in villages to provide electricity, organizing open educational sessions for poverty ridden kids etc. Provide free broadband (>20Mbps) Internet access to all citizens. Developing cities/countries in world have done that. South Korea (e.g. Seoul) provides Internet service with a speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for fraction of cost. People can participate in democratic manner in municipal/school/college/group meetings using Internet. Begin with studying Pravara Village IT Project (PRAGATI) for wireless Internet. Explore carbon free energy initiatives like wind energy, solar energy solutions locally.
(Ref: William McDonough-Cradle to Cradle http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7987612343225687713
Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century (book) by Alex Steffen
Pravara Village IT Project (PRAGATI)http://www.networkmagazineindia.com/200209/tech3.shtml
Municipal Broadband http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Municipal_broadband )
Education: Ahmednagar needs global mass competitive curriculum. Professors/Teachers should speak excellent Hindi/English. Ask them to work in global business/research world first before teaching. Ahmenagar has shabby schools/colleges that can't compete in global world. Rural Ahmednagar is worse than that. I mean how do these people get selected to teach to new generations - just based on degrees/cramming? Every 2 years, evaluate these teachers/professors by students and community by giving them annual exams based on thinking and projects they got involved to make a difference in improving students. Fire 10%-20% teachers/professors at bottom. Give bonuses/awards to competitive teachers who made learning as fun and motivating students. Fire government bodies/bureaucrats who are supporting incompetent teachers as well. Get rid of rote education/private tuitions in Ahmednagar and set kids free to think and implement their own ideas to learn. Why don't you bring kids in Municipal Corporation/Collector Office and teach them how it works? That is much better education in civics/administration (NagarikShastra) than cramming books. Complement theory in books by active participation of students implementing what they learned in school. Make education more diverse i.e. studying other countries of the world, not just India. In next 5 years, bring Education as strength in SWOT analysis.
Communal activities: Set up free libraries/laboratories for children of English books (not Marathi/Hindi) that can help them to speak/read English better. Research & Innovation is the key to develop city and you will need science labs for that to involve children. Visit library/laboratory more than visiting religious places. Don't fill shelves with historical, philosophical, political and religious books of ancient till modern India. Don't bring any Marathi newspaper in library. Don't put photos/names of any politicians/religious figures in library. Set up few computers in library that can access research and educational material. Develop minds of children for science and technology. Set up open tennis/volleyball/basketball/badminton courts in free spaces in community. Tennis can be the best sport in Ahmednagar due to its all year sunny weather. Set up gyms (vyayamshala) for girls and boys based on cardio exercises. Set up some jogging/running tracks. Build roads in communities. I mean why this is not happened for last 30 years. Are we involved in corrupt practices of developing city?
Biodiversity: Humans are not the center of this world. There are other species in this world. Humans need to show respect to biodiversity of earth that is sustaining human life. Make sure that development projects in Ahmednagar are based on biodiversity studies.
(Ref: Encyclopedia of life - http://www.eol.org/ - database of 1.8 million species. Add species of Ahmednagar in this database.)
Architects... association (16-26):
The footer of the report says 'Save water, save trees, save environment, save ourselves'. That is a joke. Do these people really follow it in their construction projects? I neither saw nor heard any architect/engineer in Ahmednagar submitting sustainability impact report to municipal corporation before starting construction. Who wrote the report - echofriendly people? That shows how much they know about ecology or is it echology?
I am not sure all the ideas mentioned here will fit in UIDSSMT scheme. The ones that don't fit in UIDSSMT, should be developed by citizens and civic bodies together by volunteering.
Our grandchildren/great grandchildren will be testimony of the statement - The city should provide clean air, safe water and carbon free energy (electricity etc.) keeping community spirit alive. They will talk about did we really make a difference in their lives. Some of us may not be in this world by that time. So, what kind of Ahmednagar city/district you want to see by year 2031? Here is your chance to answer that question as a citizen.