The deadline for completing projects under the Smart Cities Mission (SCM) was extended for all 100 participating cities to June 2023 due to the delays caused by COVID-19 and based on a NITI Aayog recommendation in August, according to Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry sources on Thursday.
In response to several questions about Smart City projects in the country, the Ministry informed the Lok Sabha on Thursday that “the period of implementation of SCM has been extended to June 2023”.
Though announced in 2015, the SCM was conducted as a competition with cities being selected from 2016 to 2018, a senior Ministry official pointed out. The cities were given five years to complete the projects under the mission, with the first set of Smart Cities expected to complete in 2021.
However, NITI Aayog in its mid-term evaluation found that many of the Sustainable Development Goals were being met by the Smart Cities projects and the work needed to be “deepened”, the official stated. Along with that, over one year was lost due to the pandemic, the official noted. Taking all factors into account, NITI Aayog recommended extending the deadline for all cities to June 2023, which was agreed by the Ministry, the official added.
In response to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State (MoS) for Housing and Urban Affairs Kaushal Kishore observed that the Smart Cities had issued tenders for 6,452 projects worth ₹1.84 lakh crore as on November 12. Out of those, work orders had been issued for 5,809 projects and 3,131 projects completed so far.
“COVID-19 pandemic related lockdowns and other unprecedented situations have led to temporary interruptions in execution of Smart City works across the country. However, Smart Cities commenced works after un-lockdown and are trying their best to make up for the time lost due to such unprecedented and unforeseen circumstances,” the MoS said.