SRINAGAR: Nearly nine months after the Government of India (GoI) announced the creation of smart cities for Jammu and Srinagar, work on the project has still not started. Reasons: delay by state government, deferment of tenders and, to cap it all, no funds released by the GoI.
Government sources said that it initially took the government two months to order the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the project and its registration as a limited company, Srinagar Smart City Limited (SSCL). The extension of tenders followed but now the funds delay has stalled all smart city work.
The multi-crore project includes: façade restoration of heritage buildings; beautification of the Jhelum waterfront; dredging the river and removing silt; improvement of the Jhelum ghats; embankments and area illumination along riverbanks; creation of pathways and cycle tracks along Bund Road; a water transport terminal for boats and shikaras and the installation of biodigestors/interceptors for managing waste water and together with an eco-Sewage Treatment Plant.
“The GoI announced the project in June 2017. Two months later, the state government issued an order for the creation of a company, then it took more than a month for issuing tenders of the work. The tenders had to be issued more than four times, which are still in progress. There was also delay from GoI to release funds. All this added to the delay, which results in no work so far,” sources said.
The tenders had to be issued for hiring a Project Management Consultant (PMC) which is supposed to design, develop, manage and implement the Smart City Project. The tenders had first to be submitted on November 29, then December 10, then December 24 and most recently January 6. The delay was first mostly due to the non-availably of the right consultant.
Sources said the hiring of staff for the SSCL is still under process, a step the government could have undertaken earlier. The appointment of the company CEO is yet to take place. The post is at present looked after as additional charge by Farooq Lone, presently the CEO of the Economic Reconstruction Company, which has multiple projects in execution. Whether he could have speeded up the implementation of the project remain unknown. Lone did not respond to repeated calls from this newspaper.