'Smart City' dampener for Centre: Only five per cent of the funds utilised

NEW DELHI: In what could put a question mark on the Centre’s ‘smart city’ claim, it has been found that only 5 per cent of the total estimated budget meant for development works selected under the mission has been utilised...

'Smart City' dampener for Centre: Only five per cent of the funds utilised

NEW DELHI: In what could put a question mark on the Centre’s ‘smart city’ claim, it has been found that only 5 per cent of the total estimated budget meant for development works selected under the mission has been utilised so far.

The government had in June 2015 announced its Smart City Mission, wherein 100 cities were to be developed.

A recent data from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has disclosed that works in cities like Bengaluru, Thiruvananthpuram, Warangal, Chandigarh, Port Blair, Shimla and other cities have not seen much progress.

Out of the total estimated cost of over Rs  2 lakh crore, only Rs  9,500 crore has been utilised so far, the report suggested.

While Bengaluru has used just Rs  7.4 crore of Rs 194 crore that was allotted for its development work, Thiruvananthpuram spent Rs 4.5 crore of total Rs 194 crore released fund. Kochi has seen utilisation of just Rs 34 crore out of total released Rs 198 crore.

Similarly, Kalyan-Domviballi in Maharashtra has utilised Rs 14 crore out of Rs 196 crore.

There are only a few cities like Surat, Amaravati and Indore where works of over Rs 300 crore has been completed.

While the data itself points to the pace at which work has been ‘progressing’, senior officials of the ministry are of the view that innovative projects and the process of making a special purpose vehicle (SPV) take much time and that the pace of implementation has picked up last year.

The Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was launched on June 25, 2015. Thereafter 100 cities were selected in five rounds over a span of two and half years from January 2016 to June 2018.

Officials also said that some cities have more challenges than others. The implementation also depends on the size and geographic location of the city.

Smaller and remotely located cities like Guwahati and others in the North East Region find it difficult to get reputed companies to come and bid for projects.