Karnataka trips on Smart Cities

Karnataka trips on Smart Cities

Seven cities — Bengaluru, Belagavi, Davangere, Hubballi-Dharwad, Shivamogga, Mangaluru and Tumakuru — were chosen to receive Rs 500 crore each from the Centre and the state under the Smart Cities mission.

Karnataka has spent less than one per cent of the total allocation for seven cities chosen under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Smart Cities mission, with Bengaluru and Mangaluru yet to complete a single project, official data show.

Seven cities — Bengaluru, Belagavi, Davangere, Hubballi-Dharwad, Shivamogga, Mangaluru and Tumakuru — were chosen to receive Rs 500 crore each from the Centre and the state under the Smart Cities mission.

So far, these cities have Rs 6,462 crore, but projects worth just Rs 30.97 crore have been completed, according to the Urban Development Department. The remaining projects are either ongoing, tendered or in the conceptual stage.

Most projects that have been completed include miniscule works, a senior official pointed out. “In Shivamogga, for example, a park has come up under the Smart Cities mission. Now, why does a park need branding as a Smart Cities project? Mostly, work under the Smart Cities mission is turning out to be like those carried out by the public works department,” the official said of how lack of conceptual clarity undermined the potential of the Smart Cities mission.

These cities were chosen based on a nationwide challenge that assessed their readiness to take up retrofitting, redevelopment and greenfield projects. Bengaluru, for instance, came up with a futuristic proposal that involved the Internet of Things-enabled roads. “But these smart roads are nothing but a reiteration of the existing TenderSURE roads where all utilities are shifted underneath on both sides,” the official said.

The Smart Cities mission was formally launched in 2015. Six cities were chosen in 2016 whereas Bengaluru made the cut in 2017.

The government is now pushing municipal corporations to hasten expenditure along with some tweaks. “We’re scaling up projects to non-mission cities, which includes Control and Command Centres, LED lighting and commercial complexes,” Urban Development secretary (municipalities and urban development authorities) Anjum Parwez said.

“The first two years were spent putting things in place,” Parwez pointed out. “This involved setting up special purpose vehicles and finding the right project management consultants.”

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