Discipline defines a world-class city
Hindustan Times Jaipur Live, November 30, 2009
By Pradeep S Mehta
Two recent happenings in Jaipur need to be looked at in a dovetailed fashion: The government of Rajasthan’s announcement of an ambitious plan to make Jaipur a world class city. The second thing is the direct election of a lady mayor, Jyoti Khandelwal who was elected by the voters in Jaipur to represent them. Her first promise is to make Jaipur a city which is safe for women and also promote cleanliness. These two are essential ingredients for a world class city.
What else is needed to make Jaipur a world class city? Water and sanitation, and certainly with greater thrust on the latter. One can only hope for a continuous supply of potable water, but we can ensure cleanliness by being more conscious. The government has identified infrastructure as another imperative ingredient. Yes, we need better roads and transport facilities among a host of infrastructural needs. On the other hand we also need adequate safety arrangements for all types of road users. On this page on 16th November, I had quoted data to show that Jaipur is one of the five worst cities in the country vis a vis road accident fatalities (http://pradeepsmehta.com/Articles-PlusMinus-Saving_Lives_on_Jaipurs_Roads.htm). There is no point in having flyovers and good roads if we cannot control road accidents and save lives of citizens. Or to have pedestrian flyovers like the one near the Collectorate which are hardly used by pedestrians. Only the advertising agency seems to be benefiting out of it.
To ease movement on the roads, there is a proposal to build a metro railway for Jaipur at a cost of Rs. 6,000 crores. It will be good if the same can be done on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis rather than the Government executing the project on its own. There are pluses and minuses for both modes but if the project has to be completed within time and cost, it can be done by a private investor. This is because of the lack of work culture and corruption in the administration, to which one can stays from courts etc, which will only hamper smooth execution. These things are better managed by the private sector. And PPPs is not something new. Some of the major highways leading in and out of Jaipur have been built under the PPP mode. New metros in Hyderabad, Mumbai etc are being built under the PPP mode. More on this later in the next column.
A metro will certainly ease the movement of people and reduce the burden on the roads, but the cost has to be commensurate for people to shift from their personal transport. Such a move should be accompanied by a congestion charge in the city where the traffic density is high, so that there is a greater incentive for people to use the metro.
However, for much for this to happen it is the attitudes of people which will need a sea change. This can be achieved by the elected local government representatives who themselves will need to be trained to tackle the same. Changing attitudes and inculcating discipline will be the biggest challenge to turn Jaipur into a world class city. Infrastructure alone cannot do much unless the people are ready to cooperate.