DELHI: The National Capital Region has undergone another expansion with three more districts – Mahendragarh and Bhiwani (both in Haryana) and Bharatpur (Rajasthan) – added to it on July 1. This brings the number of districts in the NCR to 19, with the total area increasing by 34% to 45,887sq km.
And there are other districts waiting to join the elite club. Haryana wants Jind and Karnal in NCR, while UP is pushing for the inclusion of Mathura-Vrindavan.
Government sources said the 1st July’s inclusion was dictated by contiguity with existing NCR boundaries and ‘good’ rail and road connectivity to the national capital and other major cities.
Move aims to ease Delhi’s burden
The NCR Planning Board, which took the decision under the chairmanship of the union urban development minister, claimed the expansion would help in dispersal of economic activities and reduce pressure on Delhi’s health, educational and economic infrastructure. However, except for Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurgaon, the dispersal being talked about has remained in theory. It is no secret that the plan to shift central government offices to NCR cities has failed completely. It’s not these offices but corporate organizations which have shifted base to Gurgaon and Noida.
Despite the cheap loans that come to a district with an NCR membership, the lack of infrastructure and planned growth in cities such as Meerut, Bulandshahr, Baghpat and Hapur remains glaring. Moreover, the abject failure to resolve transport as well as law and order issues between Delhi and its immediate neighbours points to lack of coordination between administrations with often different political masters.
Sources said the biggest parameter of prosperity in most NCR districts were real Estate prices”. The NCR tag could prove to be a goldmine for realtors and builders in the areas where infrastructure remains pathetic and the resolve to change things largely absent.
“The demand of constituent states in the NCR to include more areas will increase due to political reasons. The recent requests came from MLAs or parliamentary secretaries,” said an official who did not wish to be named. TOI asked some of the political leaders and bureaucrats who attended the meeting on how the NCR tag would benefit the districts. Most did not give a satisfactory answer. An official said the biggest benefit was that districts would have access to funding from NCRPB at a cheap rates. “They can avail loans for infrastructure projects at 7-8% interest. Fund availability makes cities and government capable of taking up infrastructure augmentation projects,” he added.
While most cities have failed in exploiting the opportunity to get low-interest loans, Haryana has taken almost 70% of the total loans that NCRPB has disbursed. The official claimed that once a district is a part of NCR, the board motivates the state government to plan infrastructure at par with Delhi. “There is also focus on having a proper plan conforming to the regional plan,” he added.
NCR’s expansion also does not seem to have helped in decongesting Delhi. The Delhi chief minister had said people from neighbouring states come, work here and use the infrastructure. Her Haryana counterpart, has claimed the opposite. He has said the Haryana sub-region has fulfilled NCR objectives by not only checking the flight to Delhi but causing reverse migration.
However, the union urban development minister seemed to agree with the Delhi CM that the other constituents of NCR need to create adequate social infrastructure to reduce the burden on Delhi.