Dec-end deadline for smart cities plan

NEW DELHI: With the urban development ministry still caught up in preparing the concept note for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 smart cities scheme, the PMO has set this month end as the deadline to make a final presentation. Sources said the deadline is aimed at fast-tracking the scheme so that some work can start by the end of this financial year.

The ministry is staring at surrendering most of the Rs 6,274 crore budget allocated this year for the smart cities programme and a new mission for renewal of urban infrastructure in place of JNNURM. TOI has learnt that so far about Rs 800 crore from this allocation has been utilized under urban transport head and another Rs 200 crore could be used by March.

Since the conceptualization of smart city project and the new mission to replace JNNURM are still under process, there is hardly any scope for the ministry to utilize substantial allocation. “You can’t utilize more than 33% of the unutilized allocation in the last quarter,” a government source said.

Meanwhile, with the government yet to finalize the new urban renewal mission, the future of about 250 unfinished infrastructure projects in big cities under JNNURM is hanging in balance. The Centre has stopped releasing any fund for these works. Sources said the ministry in its new mission proposal to the Cabinet will include the provision to provide about Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 crore annually for such projects so that these can be completed.

Pushing for completion of these projects, a parliamentary panel on UD has observed, “It would be a monumental waste of public money to have expended thousands of crores on incomplete projects only due to the lack of coordination and flexibility between Central and state governments. This would be a most undesirable state of affairs.”

The committee found that no urban infrastructure project has been completed in the seven mission cities of Uttar Pradesh while only 33 out of 71 projects in Gujarat, 16 out of 46 projects in Karnataka and 17 out of 50 projects in Andhra Pradesh have been completed. It has recommended completing at least all remaining projects of JNNURM within a time-bound manner and these should be funded by the Centre.

Source: Times of India
Dated: 21st December 2014

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