Poor allocation of govt funds mars progress of ‘smart cities’

RTI plea reveals cities were given an average of ₹125 cr against the assured ₹500 cr

Published - March 28, 2019 01:42 am IST

The cities shortlisted under the Central government’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission over the past three years were allocated only ₹13,846.2 crore, at an average of around ₹125 crore per city, till December last year, revealed an RTI reply by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.

As per the reply, the Union government was to allocate up to ₹500 crore per city in five years under the project and a similar amount was to be contributed by the State governments.

Almost one-third of these cities have been allocated less than ₹100 crore each with 11 cities getting merely ₹2 crore each.

Break-up for 110 cities

Replying to an RTI application filed by activist P.P. Kapoor in November 29, 2018, the Smart City-Division 1 of the Ministry said that 60 cities were shortlisted for the project in 2016, 30 in 2017 and 10 in 2018 under the project.

But the department has, interestingly, provided the funds allocation break-up for 110 cities in its reply.

The cities that have got the lowest grant of ₹2 crore each include Durgapur, Haldia, Bidhannagar (all West Bengal); Ghaziabad, Agra and Rampur (all Uttar Pradesh); Dindigul (Tamil Nadu); Shillong (Meghalaya) and Greater Mumbai and Amravati (both Maharashtra).

Mr. Kapoor, a resident of Panipat in Haryana, said the total cost of the projects for the Smart Cities Mission, as per its website, was around ₹2,03,172 crore, but going at the present pace of allocation of funds it might take many decades for this project to become a reality.

“The total funds allocated by the Central government for the project so far are around 7% of the projected cost. It, therefore, seems to be another false promise of the BJP, which is far from being true,” said Mr. Kapoor.

Funds for Chandigarh

Another RTI application seeking details about the utilisation of funds for the project in Chandigarh has revealed that a total of ₹296 crore were received by the Chandigarh Smart City Limited so far, including ₹100 from the Union Territory government, but only around ₹90 crore were spent on various projects.

“The total of 54 projects related to the Smart City project for Chandigarh is around ₹7,000 crore, but only ₹90 crore have been spent so far. Also, there is no information available on the date by which Chandigarh will become a smart city. This is the state of affairs for a majority of the smart city projects,” said Mr. Kapoor.

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