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Home >> Library index >> Thane Municipal Corporation >> Thane Municipal Corporation has a vision document
The Thane Municipal Corporation has organised local study groups for preparing a vision document that will identify future development goals for the city, says Vijay Pandya 

Preparing a vision document for a city is one of the easiest tasks for a municipal commissioner to perform. All he has to do is brief a consultancy firm, let them interview some of the stakeholders, wait a few months and voila - an attractively packaged document, with graphs, projections and an action plan will materialise with no additional effort whatsoever. While this model has been followed in several cities including Mumbai, Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) Commissioner Sanjay Sethi, has opted to take the harder, longer route by organising local study groups to prepare the vision document.The response has been extremely enthusiastic so far. 
"In most cities,typically an agency is given the task of preparing a vision document. Here we wanted to get more Thaneites to participate in the process, rather than restrict it to an outside agency. A lot of people wanted to contribute, but did not have a proper platform," he explains. 
The TMC communicated this through newspapers, seeking people's opinions and inputs.TMC representatives go out in groups on Wednesdays and meet at least ten families. During these visits the residents’ perceptions of infrastructure and the demands that would be made in future were recorded. Then task groups were formed, with a cross-section of people. The first group is focusing on physical infrastructure and transport, while the other groups are looking at environmental infrastructure and social infrastructure. 
The idea is to prepare a base for projecting the city's requirements visą-vis population growth up to the year 2031, have a supportive document for planning short-term and long-term development goals and draft a budgetary investment pattern for the goals envisaged. The inception study will be followed by an interim report and a draft presentation will be made to the people's representatives (MLAs and MPs). After getting their approval, it will be presented for legal sanction in terms of the development plan.The final vision statement will then be presented.The whole procedure is expected to take around six months. 
Explaining the rationale behind his approach, Mr. Sethi says, "We want to look at the socio-economic growth of the city as a whole and not just infrastructure development, there has to be a link between the plan and the budget. Also, it is necessary to have a legal sanction if the vision document comes in conflict with the existing development plan. If it builds on the city's strengths, it has a potential to create great economic impact and can capture opportunities.Some of the potential growth engines we have identified so far include the manufacturing sector, construction sector, ecotourism, the services sector (IT and BPO), the retail sector and inland navigation.We want them to drive growth in a systematic manner." 
Rajan Bandelkar, director, Raunak Group and secretary, MCHI-Thane, concurs. "Thane offers a tremendous opportunity for the ITES-BPO sector, due to its affordable pricing, fresh air and open, green spaces. Once multinationals start taking up office space, this will also lead to a demand for quality residential space, so the construction sector has potential to become one of the major growth-drivers for Thane in the future," he says. 
The vision document will have three thrust areas. The first - physical infrastructure,transport and power - will include regional linkages,missing links and additional link roads, flyovers, bridges, sub-ways, the ring route or MRTS, augmentation of existing roads, public transport, power sector and conservation programme. The next thrust area - environmental infrastructure - will cover water supply and sanitation, solid waste management, development of parks, botanical or zoological gardens, conservation of lakes and creeks. The final thrust area - social infrastructure - will focus on education and health, housing, slum redevelopment programmes, the development of playgrounds, stadiums and sports complexes and the development of tourism attracting areas. The vision document will have action plans for each of them. 
The proposed vision document is being envisaged as a set of guidelines, rather than a regulatory mechanism. "For instance, if nine malls are coming up in an area, the local retailers will be affected. This is where one has to consider just how many outlets a city can support and suggest alternatives, instead of a scenario where competition leads to un-sustainable development taking place," Mr. Sethi says.