According to a recent CAG report, only 18% of JNNURM infrastructure projects in 71 cities were completed on time. The main thrust of the scheme is on infrastructure projects relating to water supply, sanitation, sewerage, solid waste management, road network, urban transport, redevelopment of old city areas and providing basic services to urban poor. There are two sub-missions under JNNURM — one for urban infrastructure and governance and another for providing basic services to urban poor.
Delays and shoddy work have been the culprits in many cases, as it is in Meerut. District magistrate Vikas Gothawal defended the scheme: “There are genuine reasons for the delay. Work slowed down for almost six months during state elections. As far as the quality of work is concerned, third-party inspections are being conducted and I don’t think the agency undertaking the work is incompetent,” he told a visiting team from FE.
However, Meerut’s housing project for the urban poor— which comes under integrated housing and slum development — is barely 30% complete. While digging is on for sewerage, there is little movement on an ambitious waste disposal plant, which was to start by 2009.
A Jal Nigam official told FE that the sewage network under construction lacks capacity and would collapse within a decade as population grows. This means a key mission objective – securing linkages between asset creation and maintenance for long-run project sustainability – is not being met.
The Meerut sewage project envisages laying 243 km of pipelines for waste disposal within municipal limits. The project, which was slated for completion by March 2012, now has a new deadline of September 2013. But given the pace of work and lackadaisical approach of implementing agencies, even the new deadline seems hard to achieve.
A city development plan of around Rs 1,400 crore was prepared for Meerut in 2006 under which around Rs 235 crore was to be allotted for the sewage network, Rs 341 crore for water supply and storm water drains, around Rs 25 crore for solid waste management, Rs 300 crore for roads and transportation, Rs 358 crore for urban renewal and the rest