Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

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tandav
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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby tandav » 23 Jan 2020 13:29

Nikhil T wrote:
A Nandy wrote:https://hyperloop-one.com/virgin-hyperloop-one-and-kpmg-estimate-18-million-new-jobs-and-36-billion-socioeconomic-benefits-region


Sometimes I'm amazed at how our babus + netas can facilitate outlandish proposals like Hyperloop, but hold up straightforward projects for years in chai biskoots.


As Maha govt changed this decision has also come
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mumbai- ... st-2165731

tandav
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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby tandav » 23 Jan 2020 14:52

The big issue I find in India is the very poor public procurement systems via the L1 tendering system. Most assets are made by specifying materials and BOQs, with no regard to outcomes expected. In most such projects there is no penalty for non performance of the asset. Contractors happily do the work with the least care for quality, cutting corners in all aspects. Therefore we find roads which cannot sustain 80+ KMPH traffic, Sewage Treatment Plants that cannot give treated water quality, Drainage and Sewerage projects which are able to capture only 10-20% waste water flows rest of waste water being bypassed to storm water drains polluting our lakes and rivers. Near zero O&M funds for the assets or assets designed without O&M funds. Nearly 0 public review of public projects apart from protests by vested interests.

My proposal:
1) All assets must have a outcome statement clearly mentioned at the start of project
2) 5-10 year O&M contracts must be given along with SITC Work Orders
3) Blacklisting of contractors who do not give the quality outcomes
4) Removal of Govt Officials who delay payments to contractors
5) Currently they only allow contractor name on ongoing work and remove contractor name as soon as work is finished (the british system mentions all the relevant stakeholders prominently Contractor, Architect, Structural Consultants, PMC, Client Engineer in Charge ... this allows public to see who is doing quality work.
6)We need more emphasis on design, aesthetics, ergonomics, ecological impact and usability in public procurements and projects

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby Nikhil T » 24 Jan 2020 02:31

Agree with your sentiment, however I do think that this is a culture issue, not a process/policy issue. At its core, L1 tendering is a reasonable system. Where it fails is that (1) requirements must be drawn up correctly before the bids are invited or else, we know what happened in MMRCA v1.0 when we compared apples and oranges, and more importantly, (2) the Govt agency must do honest quality checks.

Right now, the Govt agencies have too much power over contractors and so, much of the process remains opaque. If chai biskoot or grease payments aren't provided, the agency stalls payments.

To fix the culture, we need to begin grounds up with better recruited, trained and motivated Govt employees. We need to insulate them from honest mistakes, unreasonable transfers, while keeping them accountable. E.g. just recently a high performing IAS in Mumbai Metro was transferred just because the Govt changed.

tandav
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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby tandav » 25 Jan 2020 14:53

Nikhil T wrote:Agree with your sentiment, however I do think that this is a culture issue, not a process/policy issue. At its core, L1 tendering is a reasonable system. Where it fails is that (1) requirements must be drawn up correctly before the bids are invited or else, we know what happened in MMRCA v1.0 when we compared apples and oranges, and more importantly, (2) the Govt agency must do honest quality checks.

Right now, the Govt agencies have too much power over contractors and so, much of the process remains opaque. If chai biskoot or grease payments aren't provided, the agency stalls payments.

To fix the culture, we need to begin grounds up with better recruited, trained and motivated Govt employees. We need to insulate them from honest mistakes, unreasonable transfers, while keeping them accountable. E.g. just recently a high performing IAS in Mumbai Metro was transferred just because the Govt changed.


1) Enforce guaranteed blacklisting of contractor for non performance by public vote 2) Go for L1 public contracts with associated garanteed and timely payment agreed and enforced by smart contracts and we will see results. I have no faith in babucracy/Poltus in ensuring fairness to contractors especially given that our political system changes and every change in political system completely shatters project viability. Let BBMP/BMC etc be run directly by political parties who are elected (let the elected poltus hire and fire babus as needed)

The true cost of providing quality public work will quickly surface. General modus operandi of contractors is via bidding 10% below to get work and cutting corners by 30% of tender value and sharing ~10% to grease the wheels and keeping 10% profit (not to mention the large Bank/NBFC loans on turnover they are able to avail to outrun any loss making activity in the short run.

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby vinamr_s » 26 Jan 2020 21:58

University campuses in main citues (like JNU) account for 1000s of acres in porche and populated areas of South Delhi. It is similar for other tier-1 cities and universities. This forces people to reside in outskirts due to high prices and takes up a lot of space in these congested areas. I think govt should work on converting them into discrete colleges like DU or relocating them in the outskirts of Delhi. But, I also see few downsides to my proposal:

Making colleges discrete reduces cohesiveness and collaboration between departments, especially in institutions like IIT Delhi where students from varied engineering disciplines have to contribute to projects and research work. Discrete colleges have been manageable in universities like DU where there's less collaboration needed (as compared to college of engineering and sciences).

If we relocate them to outskirts, we will face two problems:

1. I've heard that many good professors refrain from going to universities outside of big cities (due to obvious disadvantages of staying in small cities), and hence we might reduce the quality of teaching and research in institutions if we relocate them. However, this can be solved by locating the university close to the main city such that it is accessible by personal/public transport (such as Gurgaon/Noida/Gaziabad for Delhi) but is still far away to not be in the middle of the city. But relocating it into outskirts leads to the third problem, ie

2. Metropolitans like Delhi are constantly growing outwards and sooner or later, the relocated university will look like it's in the middle of the city.

How do you think we should solve this problem? Or is it a problem at all? I'm not involved in urban planning and hence don't know if that's normal for cities and that's how they evolve to become.

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby A Nandy » 26 Jan 2020 23:36

Improving connectivity to outskirts and surrounding villages like Gurgaon/Noida should work. Try to bring up discrete nearly self-sufficient economic centers surrounding the main city, so people have access to services especially medical services and have to commute "downtown" only for work.

Over time they would merge with the main city leading to a Tokyo like megapolis :P

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby vinamr_s » 27 Jan 2020 08:46

A Nandy wrote:Improving connectivity to outskirts and surrounding villages like Gurgaon/Noida should work. Try to bring up discrete nearly self-sufficient economic centers surrounding the main city, so people have access to services especially medical services and have to commute "downtown" only for work.

Over time they would merge with the main city leading to a Tokyo like megapolis :P


I think you've very rightly put this: connectivity and access to services (esp medical) around the city. This should solve the problem, I guess. So, I guess my initial assumption of having 1000s of acres of land for unis etc in the middle of the city stands useless if we develop surrounding cities, right?

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby NRao » 27 Jan 2020 10:17

tandav wrote:
Nikhil T wrote:Sometimes I'm amazed at how our babus + netas can facilitate outlandish proposals like Hyperloop, but hold up straightforward projects for years in chai biskoots.


As Maha govt changed this decision has also come
https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/mumbai- ... st-2165731


The private sector - Virgin? - should carry the risk. The City of Chicago has made such a deal with Elon Musk - his company is carrying the risk of a project very similar to Hyperloop.

____________________________________

On "planning" - India has always had a very robust and dependable "planning" component. India was the first nation in the democratic system to adopt it - in the 1930's IIRC - the then Congress party (it was called something else I think). The Soviet Union was the first non-democratic system to implement it (the Congress Party borrowed it from them).

The problem India is facing is not planning. It is the population. Some decades ago planners were told that the Indian population would top of at 1 billion. Then it was 1.1 billion, then 1.2 billion. ....... No idea what it is today. The point is that no one can "plan" for a moving population target. It is just not possible. And, the sh!t has not even hit the fan.

As an ex transportation planner, I think India should reduce "connectivity" - long distance people's movement should be reduced. No bullet trains or hyperloop (for the time being). (BTW, I love IR. Making a trip, in the next few months, specifically to ride IR. To nowhere. Just ride. Nostalgia - the only way I could get to my school or college was IR!!)

What absolutely needs to be improved is goods movement: build top-notch ports and connect them with top-of-the-line train systems (NOT roads) to major cities. A totally different rail line that does not compete with civilian movement (I think this is being done between Mundra-Mumbai?). The cheapest way to get goods around.

There is very little India can do to improve roads within cities - it needs a herculean, out of character, efforts to correct the problem (people have to learn to follow rules/laws).

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby Haresh » 03 Jul 2020 21:53

Despite hundreds of crores spent on desilting, why Mumbai could still see flooding this monsoon

https://citizenmatters.in/mumbai-flood- ... dies-19121

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Re: Indian Roads Thread

Postby Vayutuvan » 31 Jul 2020 03:03

Suraj wrote:In 2020, pilgrims must have access to creature comforts as they seek to connect with their cultural roots. It should not be an effort that tests their health and/or safety.
...
To have a strong culturally united society also requires places of pilgrimage to be sources of pride - clean, accessible, well managed and run, access to which is controlled and managed smoothly - no different from anything the best parts of our major cities or better yet, the developed world (in the west or east) can offer.


I have never been to Japan but I went through several travel websites to get an idea about how they have developed their religious - Buddhist and Shinto - temple towns/cities/places of worship. It is nothing short of stunning. Obviously they have lot of money and the iron discipline to do that. If we can do even 25% of what they were able to achieve, it would improve places of pilgrimiage tenfold. I wanted to bring this up because you @Suraj might have been to some of these places IRL. Since it is OT, I will stop here.

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Re: Indian Roads Thread

Postby Suraj » 31 Jul 2020 03:44

I have been to several places of Buddhist and Shinto pilgrimage in Japan. Their setup is nothing short of amazing, yes. Kyoto is basically a 'temple town' in the Indian context though it's a major city - it was spared the kind of bombing that Tokyo faced in WW2 because US Secretary of War Stimson honeymooned there:
the couple honeymooned in Kyoto, Japan, a voyage that would prove critical in Stimson's decision not to drop a nuclear bomb on that city's exemption during the Second World War
.
Kyoto has excellent infrastructure - the ultramodern bullet train station overlooks several major roads radiating into the city. Kyoto is one of the only two required stops (other being Toyota HQ town Nagoya) between Tokyo and Osaka on the famed Tokaido Shinkansen line - the world's first bullet train.

It takes several days to see all the temples in Kyoto but getting around is super easy. Taxis are cheap, buses are frequent. Or you can walk, though it's a lot of walking (we did 8-10kms of walking a day over 2 days). Even Gion, the famed geisha area, has automobile access, except to all the narrow streets and alleyways, all of which are spotlessly clean and paved. Stations have coin operated bag lockers you can hold your valuables in.

Another place I have been to is Nikko (was there last winter). There's a scenic train service out of central Tokyo to Nikko. As with most things in Japan, having local company makes it easy due to language barrier, but there's no shortage of capability to travel and enjoy one's cultural and religious sites in great comfort and convenience.

It is my own experience there that shapes my views - I'd like for Indian culturally significant places to receive heavy investment in making them modern, with great roads, paved and smooth pedestrian areas, and very easy ability to travel there, with permit based travel to manage rate of arrival as needed. I'd much rather see such investments rather than seeing another shiny mall. I am glad the PM himself has taken the most ancient of all cities - Varanasi - under his wing to develop this way. He is also an admirer of how they have maintained their heritage.

I acknowledge fears of cultural artifacts being erased, but it's not a zero sum modernity or tradition argument. Modernity does not mean 'westernization'. Japan is a good counter-example of this, and one I advocate for India too. Modernity means we respect our past and give those living in the present a comfortable experience. The old Nikko Tokugawa shrine has a nice set of steps up - always swept clean, broken steps replaced, enough hand rails... I carried my son up all the way in a toddler backpack - it was freezing cold so I didn't really sweat at all.

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby A Nandy » 01 Aug 2020 17:45

Holy hell, I just saw that bullet train station and sank a few feet :D We have just so much to build in this generation.

Small temple city onlee :lol:

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby Jarita » 01 Aug 2020 20:53

I have seen Japanese towns, cities in Europe and Latin America. I don't think there is any one template we need to copy lock stock and barrel. In the Indian context it will end up being wasteful and perhaps useless in a few years time. I personally don't see the value of a lot of bullet trains in India. Yes, if there are bullet trains they will be used but that is true of many applications. There is no one application that fits everywhere. And this is truly alarming to one -- depending on where the technocrat has lived or where her/his kids go to school, they want to import the template lock, stock and barrel. Witness the aNiti Aayog people, especially Immanuel Kant, they all want to import America (with 12 times land pc) to India. With those who are Japanophiles, they want the bullet trains and hub and spoke. As an aside Japan has 67% forest cover compared to the 21% in India (of which plantations have been counted as green cover).

Again, to reiterate, we have to build that which is suitable to our resources both human and natural + our ethos. Yes, would love to adopt the best practices but road guzzling and massive bullet trains hub and spoke are too expensive.
Witness the ugly modern architecture buildings that are popping up under the aegis of government spending. At the very least adopt the ethos of the local traditions as there is some value to them.

Of course, completely agree that it is better to restore ancient artifacts than to build those ugly, soul crushing, small vendor killing, sink destroying malls.

As an example of so called modern architecture in India is the several new PSU building that have popped up. The ugliness is baffling. Witness the new train stations being built in local areas - why are they not following the architectural detailing of local regions? Why do they not have Kerala style structures in Kerela airports and railways, such as below?

Image

Infact, paradoxically the structures built during British India adhered more to Indian ethos and climate than modern structures.

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby Jarita » 01 Aug 2020 21:14

Jarita wrote:I have seen Japanese towns, cities in Europe and Latin America. I don't think there is any one template we need to copy lock stock and barrel. In the Indian context it will end up being wasteful and perhaps useless in a few years time. I personally don't see the value of a lot of bullet trains in India. Yes, if there are bullet trains they will be used but that is true of many applications. There is no one application that fits everywhere. And this is truly alarming to one -- depending on where the technocrat has lived or where her/his kids go to school, they want to import the template lock, stock and barrel. Witness the aNiti Aayog people, especially Immanuel Kant, they all want to import America (with 12 times land pc) to India. With those who are Japanophiles, they want the bullet trains and hub and spoke. As an aside Japan has 67% forest cover compared to the 21% in India (of which plantations have been counted as green cover). And several neighborhoods in Japan and European cities are blocked off to vehicular traffic.

Again, to reiterate, we have to build that which is suitable to our resources both human and natural + our ethos. Yes, would love to adopt the best practices but road guzzling and massive bullet trains hub and spoke are too expensive.
Witness the ugly modern architecture buildings that are popping up under the aegis of government spending. At the very least adopt the ethos of the local traditions as there is some value to them.

Of course, completely agree that it is better to restore ancient artifacts than to build those ugly, soul crushing, small vendor killing, sink destroying malls.

As an example of so called modern architecture in India is the several new PSU building that have popped up. The ugliness is baffling. Witness the new train stations being built in local areas - why are they not following the architectural detailing of local regions? Why do they not have Kerala style structures in Kerela airports and railways, such as below?

Image

Infact, paradoxically the structures built during British India adhered more to Indian ethos and climate than modern structures.


Regarding density of population that one of the posters alluded to - Manhattan (not NY city) has same density as Mumbai, yet it is not polluted, has decent green cover through parks and is not falling apart despite several parts being in flood zones. Neither are there bullet trains bustling into the city. Densely populated cities can still be livable through vertical architecture which supports larger populations, reduced vehicular traffic and better organization. If you live in 3 storied chawls you are doomed because of the real estate involved. Targeted verticalization is only way for some of these cities - while holding on to 100 year old structures and being cognizant of the wetlands). Kolkata is one example where gorgeous structures have be pulled down for ugly 4 storied buildings and 20 storied structures have been built on wetlands (good luck with that). Planning, targeted development

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby Suraj » 01 Aug 2020 23:07

A Nandy wrote:Holy hell, I just saw that bullet train station and sank a few feet :D We have just so much to build in this generation.

Small temple city onlee :lol:

The Kyoto Station is fairly new but not super recent, built turn of the century. The Tokaido Shinkansen line is an elevated line and you can see the expanse of the city from the high speed line platforms on the upper level, then take escalator down to the bus bays, taxi line, or when we visited, we simply walked over to the hotel half a km away. There's definitely language issues - one can see and experience a lot more of Japan with local company or family, including interactions with people who otherwise would not interact with you due to language barrier.

Japanese urban rail systems are built around the transit / commercial hub concept. Large stations are not merely stations - they are large commercial spaces too. Kyoto station is several levels of shops and eateries. Same for major Tokyo and Osaka stations, all of which I've been through. They have the world's busiest stations - Shinjuku station with 50+ platforms - most of it underground - and 200+ exits, Ikebukuro station, Osaka Umeda Station and Shibuya station being the top four in the world. It's pretty easy to get lost in these places, though they're well signed. None of these are even associated with the high speed lines - all are commuter stations. The central Tokyo Station is the bullet train hub. Taiwan also replicates the commercial hub system in Japan stations, not surprising since Taiwan was developed by the Japanese, and many older Taiwanese can speak Japanese.

It's no one's argument that anything should be completely copied - the Tokyo concrete expanse causes a massive urban heat island effect in summer, something any local will moan about readily - and I have messages from a SIL days ago doing just that. That much built up density causes July-August to be unbearably hot and humid, amidst heavy summer rainfall.

However, grand ideas mean nothing without implementation. An ok idea that's implemented is more consequential than a better idea that remains an idea. The thread should focus on both - the ideas and practical challenges in the way of its implementation, or lessons from prior failures.

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby A Nandy » 01 Aug 2020 23:45

Yes the concrete expanse effect is a eye sore for sure. European cities like Munich seem a lot better mix of greenery and buildings with underground transport.

Off context but I wonder what happened to the Japanese economy. With such incredible infrastructure, their economic stagnation seems strange.

I recall the bullet train terminus at BKC was going to be a huge office complex. Also railways was commercializing their stations. It would make sense to build above stations maybe and rent out office space. Reduces city traffic :)

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Re: Indian Urban Development and Public Policy Discussion

Postby Suraj » 02 Aug 2020 00:10

I'll try to answer the question of the Japanese economy from a public policy and not economy perspective, to keep relevance to this thread:

The Japanese economy may lack growth and vitality people see elsewhere - in China or India. But they don't lack for satisfaction. They have a good life, a very comfortable life in fact. Extended family includes both middle class and upper middle/wealthy folks. They all live in the same western Tokyo region, about 3-5km apart. The houses of the latter have more modern touches for sure, but the former lack for nothing. There's aircon in all rooms, modern kitchen equipment (e.g. fridges hidden behind paneling not taking up extra space), and even the super modern homes have squat toilets, because the grandparents there prefers it. They were a little embarrassed first, but I said we have those in India too, and I know how to use it, unlike a westerner who may have no idea which way their behind goes...

They have incredible amounts of accumulated wealth from 2 generations of growth. Cities and general life are well organized. It is incredibly safe. This is normal, and you'll see kids do this all the time - SHQ navigated Shibuya station daily as a small kid going to school:


So if you sit down with someone who's familiar with you and you asked them about lack of growth, they'll ask back 'what do you want out of growth ?' They're right. What's missing that needs to be built ? There's nothing decrepit and falling apart. Station or airport gets old ? It gets rebuilt. Narita airport was being completely redone last winter in anticipation of Olympics, pre-Covid. Don’t confuse stagnation with lack of maintenance; everything is kept up to date and in working order.

Even middle class folks have safety, easy access to medical care, savings, transport, everything... last winter when we were there, son's granduncle tripped and fell in the dark while trying to get a smoke outside around New Years holiday, cut his hand badly. The ambulance was quick, he had himself quickly bandaged at the local clinic, and there was nothing more than a nominal fee for it all, from my recollection.

Sure it's not all rosy, and their culture has lots of negatives around overwork, treatment of women etc. But in terms of personal life, public policy and infrastructure ? They've very little missing. A Japanese passport opens doors almost everywhere - in India it is the only country with visa on arrival - all others have the e-Visa registration to do, or an actual visa. Last time at Mumbai arrivals we were told the Japanese passport holders don't need eVisa and should just take the portal marked 'Visa on Arrival for Japanese nationals only'.

They have all basics of personal Maslows needs and general public policy figured out. At that point, what is 'growth' ?


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