TOPIC: PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION & MANAGEMENT
KARNATAKA FAR BEHIND IN USING SMART CITIES PROJECT FUNDS
Context: According to the latest utilization certificate submitted by the Karnataka government to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, it was found that Karnataka is lagging way behind in the implementation of the smart city scheme.
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 886 crore for various works under the project in seven cities selected to implement the project, of which only Rs 86.02 crore were spent by Karnataka.
- In all, seven cities in Karnataka — Belagavi, Davangere, Hubballi-Dharwad, Shivamogga, Mangalore, Tumakuru and Bengaluru — were selected for development under the Smart Cities Mission by the Ministry.
- Davangere and Belagavi, which were the first two cities from Karnataka selected for development of smart cities in January 2016, they were able to utilize only Rs 14.41 crore and Rs 23.63 crore respectively.
- Bengaluru, which was selected in May 2016, has spent just Rs 3.79 crore so far.
- Some of the smart cities like Surat, Nagpur, Indore, Varanasi and Udaipur are way ahead in executing projects under the scheme.
- During the review of the scheme by the ministry, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab were found to be lagging behind in implementing the project.
REASONS FOR POOR PROGRESS
- Delays in setting up the special purpose vehicle, identifying works and finalizing the tenders are the main reasons for poor progress in implementing the projects in Karnataka.
- The release of funds depends on certain conditions, including satisfactory physical and financial progress indicated by utilization certificates that the cities have not been able to submit to the ministry
AN ASSESSMENT OF BENGALURU
- Bengaluru continues to lag behind in implementing the seven projects under the scheme.
- The city has till date been able to use only 3.33% of the funds allotted under the Smart Cities Mission — 7 crore of 210 crore.
- Even two years after a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) was formed for the project, the city has not completed even a single project.
- The ranking of the city on the Smart Cities Mission has dropped from 30 in March earlier this year to 36 in October 2019.
- The city has taken time in clearing Detailed Project Reports (DPRs), issuing tenders and work orders, and is also lagging in actual work on the ground.
- According to reports the city has not made any significant effort to raise capital from the market as well.
SMART CITIES MISSION
- Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with the mission to develop 100 smart cities across the country making them citizen friendly and sustainable.
- The Union Ministry of Urban Development is responsible for implementing the mission in collaboration with the state governments of the respective cities.
- Under the mission, the cities propose to take up various projects including smart roads, rejuvenation of water bodies, cycle tracks, walking paths, smart classrooms and upgrading health facilities.
- On 7 September 2019, the 10,000-acre Aurangabad Industrial City(AURIC) in Aurangabad, Maharashtra was inaugurated as the first Greenfield industrial smart city of India.
- There is a need for coordination between various government agencies and project execution
- There is also a need to create awareness among citizens about the need for smart cities.
- The government should urgently initiate systemic reforms to make Indian cities future-ready.
- Smart city should also work towards leveraging how public space is used for example decommissioning and repurposing of parking lots and buildings in cities enjoying high levels of car-sharing adoption.
- Bolder, more holistic, cross-vertical, and closed-loop approaches are required to optimize and maximize the potential of available resources and services.
- This can only be done by leveraging a range of very advanced technologies including, urban modeling and digital twins, AI and automation, demand-response software, edge/cloud platforms, and generative design,”
- End-to-end management and leadership around key areas like resilience are necessary.
- In-depth understanding of advanced technologies and their life cycles is required.
- Finally, commitment from the State governments and governance reform at all levels of government is required to make it a success.
- Basically smart cities need some smarter efforts to fructify
QUESTIONS: What opportunities does the smart cities mission provides to the state and what are the issues and challenges facing the states in the implementation of the scheme?