Editorial: Smart city project in doldrums

Srinagar: Srinagar and Jammu, the twin cities of the state are always talked about, though for wrong reasons. The twin cities remains one of the talking points for one or the other deficiency it faces on the development front.

However, two years back a dream was sold to the people here by the present NDA Government at the centre that it was readying to unfold a mega project for raising the developmental level of a large number of cities in India to provide the cities the much needed face lift. This was programme was called the smart city programme and the PM also announced that these cities will carve out a new India within a shortest period of time.

The plan was to identify cities in different States that meet the criterion fixed for turning an identified city into a Smart City. We understand that under this scheme, once cities are identified in accordance with the criterion laid down, experts will work out the plan of providing such facilities and amenities to the city so as to make it worthy of being considered a Smart City.

In simpler language it means developing its infrastructure in a manner that all modern requirements are met and all facilities are provided to the inhabitants of the city. This is no small a programme.

The twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu somehow managed to sail through the competition for qualifying for a smart city award by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. In a competition Srinagar stood at No 10 and Jammu at No. 21.

Notably, many plans and dreams about making Srinagar City as a development model made headlines after the City fell to the deluge in September 2014. The slogans grew even shriller after the Prime Minister Narinder Modi announced his dream of kick starting the smart city project across India.

The State Government which was quite contend with the development in the  follow up action assigned the charge of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) for Srinagar Smart City Limited and Jammu Smart City Limited to Chief Executive Officer J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) and Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation respectively. However, there seems to be no progress on the project as it is believed that the Union government has not released any funds so far for this much a talked about project.

This revelation came to the fore during the recently concluded budget session of the assembly where while filing a written reply to a question asked by the MLA of Nagrota, the Deputy Chief Minister, who is also holding the charge of Urban Development, said that the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has not released the funds.

The choking of funds has meant that the Project Management Consultancy (PMC) could not be engaged despite the fact that PMC has to play an important role in giving practical shape to the project. The reason for not engaging the consultancy was that there was poor response to the tenders floated.

The sorry state of affairs that are being reflected here communicates that the governments both at the centre and the state are taking the people for a ride. The twin city proposal was and is still being made to believe as a wonder project, but given the ground situation the tall claims of the governments are getting exposed beyond any doubt.

 

 

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