Sanjib Kumar Mishra, Commissioner, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation
With a vast spread of greenery and an efficient civic body, Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, has become one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the country. While the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) was constituted in 1993-94, it started operating in a full-fledged manner in October 2003. ´Following the first corporation election the same year, it became a legal entity,´ confirms Sanjib Kumar Mishra, Commissioner, BMC. Although the Municipal Corporation Act envisages many powers for the corporation including road infrastructure, buildings, plan approvals, water supply all the mandates have not come to the BMC owing to existing agencies like the Bhubaneswar Development Authority. Hence, sanitation, solid waste management, water house, construction of roads, saltwater drains, maintenance of street lights, running hospitals and providing primary education fall within the ambit of the corporation. In conversation with Shriyal Sethumadhvan, Mishra focuses on opportunities within the city for the construction sector.
How has the city developed since you stepped in as municipal commissioner?
I assumed the position of municipal commissioner of Bhubaneswar in August 2012. Prior to this, I served as deputy commissioner of the corporation for three-and-a-half years. I was also joint secretary for the Housing and Urban Development Department. BMC is now embarking upon larger infrastructure development projects such as developing a common land-field for solid waste management through PPPs. We have witnessed many modernised activities in street lighting projects and JNNURM schemes sponsored by the Centre. Also, heritage structures within the city comprise numerous water bodies, and through a recent project allocation of Rs 23 crore, we are trying to revive and preserve these. We have also tied up with the National Building Construction Corporation for improvement of 600 slum houses. Urban transportation has also been introduced. We have recently started AC and non-AC buses; there are 125 buses in the city and another 60 have been added.
Have you been directly involved in any development?
I have just concluded an agreement for sanitation management. We have also entered into an agreement with an energy-saving company for 20,000 street lights. The corporation has tied up with Super Wealth Group in Mumbai for a 20 year agreement and is saving energy to the extent of 80 per cent as against our benchmark of 30 per cent. Further, following the response from leading private hospital players, we are planning to establish five dispensaries and a mega hospital. As CSR, we have taken up large-scale PPP projects to beautify the city by coordinating with corporate houses. We have developed a cycle track of around 46 km and 24 parks in the city. And around 10 water bodies have been renovated for an amount of Rs 3.5 crore.
Tell us about work on the traffic signalling system.
We have recently identified 43 different locations to develop a proper traffic signalling system. We plan to rope in a private player along with police commissioners and the municipal corporation to develop the system with video cameras for traffic violation; in about three months, it will be in place. There are also several instances where traffic signals do not work and manual traffic signalling is required; we want to make it high-tech and people and pedestrian-friendly. Further, our proposal to the Government of India for the rehabilitation of street vendors has been sanctioned; we are in the process of rehabilitating 2,000 people. And we have already embarked upon constructing two night shelters for the homeless and are looking at six more.
Growth has been on the go in Tier-2 cities. What are the recent developments in Bhubaneswar?
Bhubaneswar is an IT hub and the Bhubaneswar Development Authority is working on 1,200 acre for fresh developments. The real estate sector is on a high with many mega projects coming up and 1,000 houses are being developed by the government. Also, there has been a growth in the number of vehicles, calling for better roads and parking. Despite a slump in the market, unavailability of bank loans and high interest rates, we hope to see the scenario change. For investment opportunities, IT definitely has the most potential with 55 technical institutes and engineering colleges near the city. Another growth area is the budget hotel industry.
What is the state government doing to promote low-cost housing?
We have introduced a policy for affordable housing. Also, every private developer in the city has been mandated to allot 10 per cent of housing stock for the economically weaker section (EWS). The government´s scheme comprises housing stock for EWS at Rs 4 lakh and for the low income group (LIG) and low middle income group (LMIG) at Rs 7-8 lakh for 250 sq ft area.
Tell us about the recently created Orissa Urban Development Infrastructure Development fund.
This is a trust and the funding has come from JSW Germany to provide loans for different urban infrastructure projects to local bodies. Economically remunerative schemes can also be developed like parking slots and markets. We have taken a loan for a Rs 4.5 crore slaughterhouse project.
What funding support do you get from the government and JNNURM?
The government sanctions grants in the form of octroi compensation. There is a monthly entitlement to BMC of Rs 5 crore. We receive other budgetary support like road grants and park maintenance plans. We get finance commission grants for different projects under JNNURM. The Government has provided a new fleet of 60 buses and has supported us in terms of funding.
Any project that has changed the image of the city?
As part of Phase-I of the city´s development, many projects have been executed. In the 2nd phase, we have projected water bodies for Rs 23 crore. We have taken up a massive sanitation project, Samman, to construct 27 public and 64 community toilets. The Rs 16 crore project, for which the tender is out, is funded by the BMC and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. I am also exploring the possibility of three to four parking centres in the city. A big depot terminal will be developed near the railway station where people can shift from train to buses. An SPV for the city´s bus service called Bhubaneswar Puri Transport Services Ltd has also been constituted.
Year of establishment: Constituted
in 1993-94; started operating
in a full-fledged manner in
Annual civic budget: About Rs.530 crore
Current area: 135 sq km
Population: 8.42 lakh (as per 2011)