Chandigarh: Foreign visits and meets fail to move smart city project
Two visits to France, one to Denmark and an ongoing trip to the United Kingdom to study the concept of smart cities besides 10 meetings and a number of presentations. These are some of the things officials involved in the smart city project have done since they started working on it about nine months ago. The net result, however, has been far from satisfactory as they have failed to take the project forward, with the special purpose vehicle (SPV) failing to hire a project management consultant that will prepare an estimate and execute the entire venture. Not only this, cities like Ludhiana, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Mysuru and Bhopal have already started development work as part of the project.
The SPV, a joint venture between the UT administration and the municipal corporation, was to rope in the project management consultant. Municipal corporation (MC) joint commissioner Manoj Khatri, who is in-charge of the smart city project, said, “We have finalised a company as project management consultant and will get approval for it in the board of directors’ meeting on March 29.” Sources said Gurgaon-based firm, Egis International, has been selected for this.
CITY GOT ONLY Rs 71 CR IN THE FIRST YEAR
While Chandigarh was supposed to get Rs 200 crore central grant in the first year, it received only Rs 71 crore. In the first year, the SPV was to spend Rs 400 crore, of which Rs 200 was to come from the Centre while the rest was to be contributed by the UT administration, which they have failed to deposit. In the next four years, the Centre is supposed to release RS 300 crore and as much is to be paid by the UT administration. Chandigarh was shortlisted in the smart city project in June 2016, and the SPV was formed a month later.
INTERNATIONAL TOURS OF OFFICIALS
In February 2016, smart city project chief executive officer (CEO) B Purushartha visited France and Copenhegen in Denmark to study the smart city management system. In December last year, he again visited France to attend a seminar on smart city. Now, he along with state mission director of the project Anurag Aggarwal is on a visit (from March 21 to 26) to Nottingham, UK, to attend a workshop.
WHAT WILL CHANGE IN THE FIRST PHASE?
Once the consultant is hired, of Sectors 16, 17, 19, 22, 35 and 43 that will be taken up as special cases under the area-based development (ABD) plan, the administration plans to spend 90% of total Rs 5,600 crore on Sector 43 alone. Smart parking, 24×7 water supply, smart metering for power and water, a bicycle track at the Leisure Valley, Sector 10, and disabled-friendly sidewalks, development of parks, street lights will be done. It will take five years to complete.