Urban Development department may be trifurcated
Govt planning to redraw ministry handled by two IAS officers by hiving off MMRDA and CIDCO to a third officer
After already being divided in two, the coveted Urban Development (UD) department could see yet another split. The Uddhav Thackeray-led government is mulling carving out a UD-3 department, which, according to Mantralaya officials, will oversee infrastructure projects like Metro 3 and other developmental works executed by MMRDA and CIDCO.
If implemented, this will mean three IAS officers for the UD department. At present, the UD has two senior IAS officers, one each for UD-1 that takes care of the development plan, town planning and projects executed by the MMRDA and CIDCO, and UD-2 that overlooks municipal administrations across the state, and developmental schemes like Swaach Bharat, etc.
In 1960, the department was called Urban Development and Public Health Department (UDPHD). However, there were two different secretaries (IAS officers) – one for urban development and the other for health.
In the late 1980s, the department was split further and UD 2 was carved out to ease the department's workload. Ever since, UD has had two secretaries. According to Shiv Sena leaders, the party chief wants to ensure better monitoring, execution and control over infrastructure projects. "The idea of carving out UD-3 is to have better coordination and effective implementation of projects," a senior Sena leader said.
Jairaj Phatak, former IAS officer, claimed that the workload on UD-2 is huge, as the number of municipal corporations has increased to 27. "With growing urbanisation, the workload on the official heading the department has increased manifold. Hence, creating another post for a secretary in the UD is a good idea," said Phatak, a visiting professor of the All India Institute of Local Self Government.
However, another senior Mantralaya official said, "The CIDCO and MMRDA report to UD-1. The UD-2 monitors functioning of all municipal corporations and councils, and looks into implementation of various government schemes pertaining to the department. Hence, the focus should have been on reducing work pressure on UD-2, rather having another secretary merely for infra projects."
Chief secretary Ajoy Mehta was not available for comment.
The Sena is, however, divided over the creation of UD-3. According to Sena insiders, the move is seen as a step towards reducing the growing clout of senior Sena leader, Eknath Shinde, who holds the UD ministry. While he was almost second in command in the erstwhile Sena-BJP government, in the new regime he has been relegated to third place, as it is Uddhav's MLA son Aaditya in the second spot. There is a buzz that the CM himself will keep a close watch on UD-3, leaving very little scope for the UD minister to have a say in the new section of the department.
Year the dept had two different secretaries for urban devpt and health
Major infrastructure projects
A number of important infrastructure projects are being implemented by MMRDA. Work is on for the Dahisar-Andheri East Metro line 7, Dahisar D N Nagar Metro line 2A, D N Nagar-Manadala Metro line 2B, Wadala-Thane Kasarvadavli Metro line, Swami Samartha Nagar-Vikhroli Metro line. Construction of four new Metro lines will start this year. Apart from this, construction of the 32-km-long underground Metro line 3 is also going on in full swing.
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