'Mysuru was not in list of smart cities forwarded by state govt'

'Mysuru was not in list of smart cities forwarded by state govt'

 Even as the state government and people of Karnataka are rejoicing the inclusion of Bengaluru in the smart city list, it has come to light that Mysuru was never in the list forwarded by the state government.

The lapse has been on the part of stakeholders, including people’s representatives and government officials.

Bhamy Shenoy, convenor of Mysore Grahakara Parishat, said that despite being the hometown of the chief minister, Mysuru lost the golden opportunity of transforming itself into a smart city. This, despite receiving a funding of over Rs 1,000 crore, 50% of which would have come from the Centre.

“All the four stakeholders — Mysureans, Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) staff led by the commissioner, elected representatives, and civic organisations — are accountable for the loss. Most of the Mysureans are irresponsible. We take little or no interest in civic issues. We do not pay our water bills. Less than 50% to 60% of water bills are paid. We do not like to pay our property taxes. Again, less than 50% of the potential amount is collected. We throw our garbage anywhere and everywhere. Actually the clean city award was not won by us. It was thrust upon us,” he said.

Failed to prepare proposal

“While the MCC officials failed to prepare a full-blown proposal, our elected representatives, including the chief minister, MPs, MLAs, MLCs and corporators did not take interest in drafting a comprehensive plan. Besides, our civic organisations like Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Owners’  Association, Confederation of Indian Industries, Builders’ Association and even NGOs like Mysore Grahakara Parishat are responsible. They failed to impress upon the MCC and the elected representatives to take interest in the smart city initiative,” Shenoy said.

Even when the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) projects under the massive city-modernisation scheme of the Union Ministry of Urban Development, were under progress, very few of these stakeholders took interest.

No Mysurean was bothered when the first list of 20 cities was announced in August 2015. While Davangere and Belagavi made it to the first list, Mangaluru, Tumakuru, Shivamogga and Hubballi-Dharwad came in the third list. Now, finally, Bengaluru, which was not at all in the proposal has been declared because state capitals have been included. Hence, if our politicians try, it may be possible even at this stage to include Mysuru in the list.

After all, the decision for 100 smart cities is an arbitrary number and not as per any law. If we try now, we should be able to transform Mysuru into a smart city, he said.

According to the official website of the Smart City Mission (SCM), “The core infrastructure elements in a smart city would include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor, robust IT connectivity and digitalisation, good governance, especially e-governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly and health and education.”

Shenoy said there are two types of projects for SCM — one is specifically directed to develop a small area of the city called Area Based Development (ABD) and another is pan-city projects where funds are allocated to develop the entire city.

“In Mysuru, we could have easily developed Devaraj Market and the surrounding central business district (CBD) using part of the Rs 1,000-crore grant. On an average, every smart city proposes to spend Rs 2,000 crore over five years. Considering the MCC’s budget of Rs 870 crore for 2017-18, the SCM could have helped in the development of the city in many critical areas,” he said. MCC Commissioner G Jagadeesha was not available for comment.

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