CPPR Chairman D Dhanuraj commented in the news published on Times of India (31 January, 2024)

KOCHI: The consultation committee, set up by state as per a HC order to form the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) for systematic urban planning of Kochi, has recommended that around 60% of Ernakulam be renotified as metropolitan or urban area.

In the recommendation submitted recently to the additional chief secretary, the nine-member committee said the corporation area, nine neighbouring municipalities and 44 panchayats should be notified as metropolitan areas, under Kochi MPC. The key areas are four panchayats in Goshree and Kizhakkambalam panchayat, entire areas of Aluva, Angamaly, Eroor, Kalamassery, Maradu, Paravur, Perumbavoor, Thrikkakara and Tripunithura municipalities.

It also recommended the urbanized areas in neighbouring districts, especially Cherthala in Alappuzha, be brought under Kochi MPC and Kochi corporation mayor head Kochi MPC.

“We have suggested that government include more areas under the MPC, considering various data regarding the developmental index of the area. In future the area can be changed as per population and other growth,” said a committee member.

In Nov 1995, state government had notified territorial regions under select municipalities and panchayats in the district as metropolitan areas, as mandated by Article 243P(c) of the Constitution. It is mandatory to set up MPCs for urban agglomerations (UAs) with a more than 1 million population. Yet even after 28 years, the Kochi urban agglomeration, with a population of more than 2 million (as per the 2011 census) does not have an MPC.

Major cities like Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, and Kolkata which have MPC have seen fast and major infrastructure developments. For example, Pune MPC, which was formed in 2015 with a 7,256sqkm area and 72.76 lakh population, is now implementing more than 10 multi-crore infrastructure projects.

“We have so many agencies such as GCDA, GIDA, and district planning committee. Instead of forming a new planning committee, government can integrate them to form MPC,” said D Dhanuraj of Centre for Public Policy Research. He added the formation of MPC without Metropolitan Development Authority would not be effective as MPC has no implementation power.

“Court gave four months to form the committee. Though government is yet to begin the process, not a single MLA or MP from the district is ready to raise demand for such a crucial body. It is unfortunate,” said Richard Rajesh, one of the petitioners who approached HC demanding MPC.

Views expressed by the author are personal and need not reflect or represent the views of the Centre for Public Policy Research.

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