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Smart City Mission nears 100 milestone

New Delhi : With the final selection of 10 cities in Round 4 expected to take place in early 2018, the Centre is moving towards the 100-cities milestone under the Smart Cities Mission.

While an investment of Rs 1,91,155 crore has been proposed by the 90 selected cities under their smart city plans so far, a huge gap has emerged between the funds released by the Centre to the cities and actual utilisation on the ground, reports suggest.

The year 2017 saw only the selection of 30 cities under Round 3, but the (renamed) Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry pushed for consolidation and clearing of bottlenecks to ensure speedy implementation of the projects, said Government officials.

Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has maintained that the physical manifestation of the work in contracts that are in an advanced stage of implementation in the Smart Cities Mission would be visible "by June 2018".

In a recent interaction with members of a Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, Puri read out the report card so far: 2,855 projects worth Rs 1,35,459 crore in are in various stages of implementation.

While 147 projects worth Rs 1,872 crore have been completed and 396 projects with a cost of Rs 14,672 crore are currently under implementation, tendering process has started for 283 projects with a cost of Rs 16,549 crore and detailed project reports (DPRs)are being prepared for 2,029 projects worth Rs 1,02,366 crore, said Puri.

Officials said of the Rs 1,91,155 crore proposed so far, projects that focus on revamping an identified area (area based development) are estimated to cost Rs 1,52,500 crore. The remaining amount of Rs 36,655 crore is for investments to be done for smart initiatives across the city (pan-city initiatives).

An additional amount of Rs 1,998.49 crore has been kept aside for meeting operation & maintenance (O&M) costs of the Mission and other contingencies.

However, the pace of funds utilisation remains a concern area.

News reports indicated that of Rs 9,860 crore released to 60 cities under the Mission, only Rs 645 crore (seven per cent) has been utilised so far.

Quoting Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry data, a recent ET news report said of the Rs 196 crore released to each of around 40 cities, Ahmedabad has spent the maximum amount of Rs 80.15 crore, followed by Indore at Rs 70.69 crore, Surat at Rs 43.41 crore and Bhopal at Rs 42.86 crore.

Also, among cities that got around Rs 111 crore each from the Centre, Vodadara has spent Rs 20.62 crore and Namchi in Sikkim has managed to spend Rs 6.80 crore even as cities like Salem, Vellore and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu could utilise only Rs 5 lakh, Rs 6 lakh and Rs 19 lakh respectively, the report indicated.

Ministry officials said the pace of work has picked up in recent months and cities are being encouraged to push for implementation of projects through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) route.

The Centre has taken up implementation of the Smart Cities Mission by setting up special purpose vehicles at city level in the form of a limited company under the Companies Act, 2013. These SPVs are promoted by the state or Union Territory and the urban local body (ULB) jointly with 50:50 equity shareholding.

After selection, each Smart City has to set up SPVs and start implementation of its Smart City proposal by preparation of DPRs and going through the tendering route. The SPVs are converting the Smart City proposals into projects through project management consultants (PMCs) and taking up their implementation.

So far, 77 Smart Cities (including 11 chosen in Round 3 in June 2017) have set up their SPVs, Puri informed the Committee.

The Minister said under the Smart City Mission, 2,864 projects worth Rs 1,35,958 crore are in various stages of implementation.

While as many as 148 projects worth Rs 1,872 crore have already been completed, work is underway for 407 projects with a cost of Rs 15,600 crore. Also, tendering has started for 237 projects with a cost of Rs 13,514 crore and DPRs are being prepared for 2,025 projects worth Rs 1,02,260 crore.

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