Modi Pushes States To Focus On Impactful Smart Cities Project

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the progress of nine vital infrastructure projects worth over Rs. 56,000 crores in the railway, road, power and oil pipeline and health sectors, he stepped in yet again to make sure that the floated smart cities projects are completed in time and start showing results.

According to a report in the Economic Times, the Modi government has asked all the states to focus on ‘impactful’ public-private-partnership based smart city projects that can start showing results in the next one year. He has also urged state governments to put in place a review mechanism of the work done.

The Ministry of housing and urban affairs, which is the nodal ministry for Smart Cities Mission, as per the report, has identified 261 impactful ventures worth Rs 31,000 crore and PPP projects worth Rs 32,000 crore for the states to work on.

Reports suggest that all the command-and-control centres planned in the first batch of 20 cities would be functional by the end of the current financial year. The other smart cities, chosen in the subsequent rounds of challenge contests, are waiting for Bhopal to roll out its centre.

In a letter addressed to all Chief Secretaries, Durga Shankar Mishra, secretary said: “261 impactful projects have been identified in consultation with the States and circulated earlier vide letter dated August 16, 2017. These projects are expected to have a visible and transformative impact on the various aspects of the lives of the citizens.”

All these projects have to be commenced by November 2017. The idea is to complete the projects in time for the next Lok Sabha polls in May 2019.

Mishra, in his letter, urged the States to prioritise 370 projects to be completed at a cost of ₹30,000 crore, which are developed under public-private partnership.

The Ministry sent out the letter after Modi reviewed the status of Smart Cities on August 30. He had then directed the Chief Secretaries to review the progress of projects on weekly basis.

Since the list of first 20 smart cities came out on January 1, 2016, questions have been raised on the mission. For one, the Smart City is a misnomer, because only small pockets of the city are to be developed.