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Smart City project yet to take off in Belagavi

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The city’s selection in the first phase of the Smart City competition brought much joy to its citizens, who hoped the accomplishment would ring in a host of developmental projects aimed at improving their standard of living. It’s been almost 18 months since Belagavi was selected for the Smart City project, and it’s nearly a year since funds to the tune of Rs 400 crore were released for implementation of projects under the programme.

However, owing to the lack of interest among the officials of the Smart City Public Ltd, in charge of implementing these development projects, not a single proposal for a project has been submitted to the government. The city, along with 19 other cities, managed to make the cut for the central government-sponsored Smart City Project after officials of the Belagavi City Corporation (BCC) presented its proposals to the Union ministry of urban development.

The urban development ministry directed the selected cities to adopt core areas of development such as area-based development, retrofitting – integration of new technologies with those of existing older systems – and green field components. “Many of the area-based development projects can be implemented in Belagavi, particularly in the extension areas, where basic facilities such as roads and sewage networks are non-existent. The retrofit model will come in handy in the city centre where traffic congestion has increased, proportionately with the rise in commercial activities,” said a senior BCC official.

Delays in forming Smart City Public Ltd, appointment of members for the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) have seen the development projects remain on paper. A project consultancy firm that was appointed a year ago is still in the process of studying the topography of the city, and yet to submit its report. Moreover, officials of the BCC and the public works department, who have an intimate understanding of the city, have not been included in the study team.

“Engineers involved in the project may have expertise in their respective domain, but one must also be acquainted with ground realities. Lack of knowledge about the city among those conducting the study has delayed implementation of the Smart City projects,” said RS Naik, BCC executive engineer.

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