New Delhi, Jan 20 (PTI) Kamal Nath today took over asUrban Development Minister with an amibitious plan of giving aboost to urban transportation for which he intends to expandDelhi Metro network to make it bigger than its Londoncounterpart by 2017.
"Urban transport is a big challenge today. It needspriority," said Nath, who moved to the Urban DevelopmentMinistry from Roads and Highways where he had made anendeavour the fast-track construction of highways.
In this context, he talked about Delhi Metro and saidhis aim would be to ensure that its network goes up to 415 kmsby 2017 to make it bigger than London Metro.
Delhi Metro has so far covered 190 kms, including theairport route. London Metro has a network of 402 kms and isplanned to be expanded to 414 kms.
When pointed out that the Delhi Metro was facing afinancial crunch, Nath said he would discuss the issue withDelhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit shortly.
Talking about the challenges being faced on account ofurbanisation, he said he would focus on transportation aspectconsidering the fact that the auto sector has grown up to 34per cent.
In the housing sector, he noted a "huge gap" in demandand supply and said steps would be taken to involve privatesector in the construction of affordable houses.
On the Real Estate Regulator Bill, he said it was one ofthe issues requiring priority handling.
"The land prices are going up in cities. There is a needfor the expansion of NCR zone, expansion of cities with allfacilities so that people feel proud for living in thosecities," he said.
He said a "new outlook and new vision" was needed totackle other challenges related to urbanisation like sewagesystem and water supplies, in view of the progress being madeby the country.
Nath pointed out that urban development is one of thekey areas contributing to GDP growth upto 60 per cent andexpected to go up to 70 per cent.
Asked about the Commonwealth Games controversy, he said"That happened in the past and law is taking its own course.
I am looking to the future."
He said he would seek to involve all sections, includingcivil society and NGOs, residential welfare associations inhis efforts to improve the urban infrastructure.
Asked to comment on the work of his previous ministry,he said "I created a momentum in the highway sector. When Itook over it was 3000 kms. Now work is going on for 20,000kms. I added 12 kms road length a day."
Nath had aspired to construct 20 kms per day but thePlanning Commission always maintained that it was notpossible.