Two years on, Smart City projects set to take shape
Two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Smart Cities Mission, its implementation is likely to kick off in the city. Key smart city projects are likely to be cleared for administrative sanction by the Board of Directors of Chennai Smart City Ltd. on Wednesday, said sources in the Chennai Corporation.
Wednesday’s meeting will be the fourth board meeting of Chennai Smart City Ltd. The previous three meetings did not clear any proposal. Slated to cost ₹85 crore, the key projects to be cleared include constructing a new multi-level car parking facility, redevelopment of eight parks, redesigning of 23 roads, and development of a pedestrian plaza.
“Other important projects such as a traffic management system and phase 2 and 3 of the Pedestrian Plaza in T.Nagar will be implemented later. A detailed project report for many of the projects will be ready soon,” said an official.
Challenges to the implementation of Smart City Mission projects include opposition from traders in T.Nagar, hurdles in revision of parking charges for the city, implementation of Metro Rail project, lack of interest among other stakeholders in the private sector to support the projects, inadequate funding for smart city proposals and resettlement of hawkers. This year Chennai is likely to spend only around ₹100 crore for projects under the Smart City Mission.
The multi-level car parking can accommodate 230 cars and 550 two-wheelers, but there is a hitch. The corporation can’t collect charges for motorcycles, as per an existing government order. It can collect only ₹5 per hour for cars. This makes operation and maintenance of the multi-level parking facility an expensive proposition. The government has to revise the parking fee, an official said, adding that this would be discussed in the board meeting. Work on redevelopment of Panagal Park has been shelved due to the Metro Rail project in the area and civic officials expect a few other proposals in the city to be hit by subsequent phases of the Metro Rail.
Officials say that at least 41 Smart City projects are expected to be implemented at an estimated cost of ₹1,300 crore in the city in the years to come. But implementation of many of these projects including 24×7 supply of water in T.Nagar is likely to be a challenge as a number of unauthorised buildings dot the city’s commercial district, officials say.