Centre to convene chief ministers meet on ''urban agenda''

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Kochi, Jun 9 (UNI) The Centre will convene a meeting of chief ministers to set a national 'urban agenda' and review the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), union Urban Development Secretary M Ramachandran said today.

Talking to reporters here after addressing a meeting of the Kochi Corporation, Mr Ramachandran said the chief ministers meeting is likely to be convened within the next two months.

The union urban develoment ministry has already started chalking out the issues to be put before the meet so that it can thrash out a comprehensive ''urban agenda'' for the cities.

''It will help us to formulate measures to strengthen local bodies and ensure basic services to the people,'' he added.

The conclave would also act as a mid-course review of the JNNURM, being implemented in 63 select cities in the country since December, 2005.

''We will assess how the mission has progressed so far and chalk out the way forward,'' he added.

Of the 327 projects underway in 63 JNNURM cities at present, 90 were slated to be completed by December this year. The Centre has allocated a total of Rs 50,000 crore for the mission, which is due to be completed by December, 2012.

Replying to a question, he said there was no move to include any new cities under the mission.

Asked about the credit rating of cities under the JNNURM, Mr Ramachandran said Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, the two JNNURM cities in Kerala, had both got the BBB- (BBB minus) rating for credit worthiness.

With better management of their assets, records and stocks, the two corporations can improve their creditworthiness, Mr Ramachandran said.

Asked about the proposed Kochi Metro, he said this was not covered under the JNNURM. The financial modus of implementing the project is yet to be decided, he added.

Kochi Mayor Mercy Williams said the corporation councillors raised several issues including cost escalation, land acquisition and quality of work at the meeting with Mr Ramachandran this morning.

Mr S M Vijayanand, Principal Secretary, Local Self Government, was also present.

UNI ARC DK1450

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