Skip to main content

Modi aide regrets lack of public discourse on smart cities: Interpreting "smartness" is not Govt of India concern

By Our Representative
Regretting “lack of clarity in public discourse”, a top Narendra Modi aide has declared that the Government of India (GoI) may not be able to pump in resources in its ambitious “Smart City initiative”. The aide, Bibek Debroy, has declared, even “interpreting smartness” is not a GoI concern.
In a blog for India’s top policy making body chaired by the Prime Minister, Niti Aayog, member Debroy said, Smart City “isn’t about Union government pumping in extra resources for urban development.”
He underlined, “Though a smartness template exists in terms of providing public services, smartness is what citizens determine it to be.”
Saying that “the critical element is about citizens planning and interpreting smartness”, Debroy noted, already, while submitting their smartness proposals, “States and ULBs have interpreted this smartness differently.”
“The way Bhubaneswar has looked at it is not quite the way Pune has looked at it. That is why this Mission is refreshingly different”, Debroy said, adding, “The Ministry of Urban Development has disseminated plenty of information about a Smart City”, yet there is little “public discourse.”
The templates, he said, only show that there should be an “existing built-up area”, on which there can be “retrofitting of more than 500 acres, in consultation with citizens.”
“Again in consultation with citizens and in an existing built-up area, there can be redevelopment in an area more than 50 acres. For areas more than 250 acres, there can be Greenfield development”, Debroy said.
Debroy said, Union government would provide just about Rs 500 crore for each smart city, with states providing “a matching amount”, adding, but other than the Finance Commission, rest of the money has to come through other sources.
These “sources”, he emphasizes, include “user charges, public-private partnerships (PPPs), municipal bonds, bilateral and multilateral borrowings, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and convergence with other government schemes.”
Even in the first year, Debroy said, “Barring some minor deductions, each selected Smart City will get Rs 200 crore from Union government towards the corpus. This is followed by Rs 100 crore each year, for three years.”
While leaving things to “citizens” to decide on smart city framework, Debroy said, their “implementation” would have be done under a state-sponsored special purpose vehicle (SPV), “created under the Companies Act.”
Debroy’s “clarification” comes amidst GoI planning to have, between 2015-16 and 2019-20, 100 smart cities. These smart cities are to beset up through what it has called “a Smart City Challenge route.”
While the the first cycle of the competition is over, there will be a second cycle of competition in 2016-17 and a third one in 2017-18.
The results of the first cycle of competition were announced in January 2016 and 20 cities were chosen, with a selection process based on criteria and weights attached to these.
While scores are a function of weights and criteria, Bhubaneswar topped the list with an overall score of 78.83% and Bhopal was last in that list of 20, with an overall score of 55.47%.
Maharashtra has 2 in the list, Gujarat has 2, Andhra Pradesh has 2 and Madhya Pradesh has 3. As many as 23 other cities have been “allowed” to fast track the approval process.

Comments

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.