DELHI: With elections round the corner, the Union government has decided to expand the areas included under the National Capital Region (NCR) with the districts of Jind and Karnal in the state of Haryana all set to be brought in.
The NCR accounts for 7.6 per cent of the country’s urban population and has also come to acquire the distinction of the “world’s largest urban agglomeration.” The state governments of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been pitching to include more districts from their states within the NCR with an eye on the benefits of being close to Delhi — in the form of real estate development, soft loans for infrastructure projects, greater investment activity in the state and development.
Haryana goes to elections in October this year and the inclusion of the two districts are being seen as an attempt to win over the population in the face of the growing presence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state.
“We have proposed to include Jind and Karnal in the NCR, the final decision will be taken when the Board meets on Monday,” said a senior Haryana government official. There is a request from the Uttar Pradesh government too, to include Agra within the NCR fold.
The NCR currently includes 19 districts spread across three states and the National Capital Territory of Delhi. In Haryana, it comprises the districts of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Mewat, Rohtak, Sonepat, Rewari, Jhajjhar, Panipat, Palwal, Mahendragarh and Bhiwani. In Uttar Pradesh, the districts of Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Hapur and Baghpat are included. The districts from Rajasthan are Alwar and Bharatpur.
The NCR last underwent an expansion in July 2013 when three districts — Mahendragarh, Bhiwani and Bharatpur were added to it. Along with Delhi, the total area under the NCR now constitutes 45,887 sq km. Delhi alone accounts for 4.4 per cent of the population of the region.
A senior official at the Union urban development ministry official said, “There are serious considerations to rework the NCR region.” Inclusion in the NCR also means easing pressure off Delhi, which regularly sees massive migration from neighbouring states.
Planning for the NCR is undertaken by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB), which is headed by the Union urban development minister and has representatives from the three states that are part of the region. With the inclusion of the two additional districts, the regional planning exercise would now be done under the overall direction of the NCRPB. Infrastructure can be built with greater support from the Union government, and in addition, planning would be holistic with a clear strategy.
As per the NCRPB estimates, urbanisation in NCR has increased from 50 per cent in 1991 to 62 per cent in 2011. With the rapid growth of the Central National Capital Region (CNCR) area, Metro Centres and Regional Centres, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) currently underway, and the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), the urbanisation level of NCR is expected to reach 73 per cent by 2021.
The rapid urbanisation has also affected the environment with green areas in the region reducing from 4.26 per cent in 1999 to 3.30 per cent in 2012, which is much lower than the proposed green areas of 10 per cent in the Regional Plan 2021.
NCR is endowed with ecologically sensitive areas like the Aravalli ridge, forests, wildlife and bird sanctuaries, rivers, lakes, ponds which are facing constant threat of encroachment