The mission focuses on equipping a small area of a city with smart amenities and replicating them pan-city at a later stage.
In an interview to Mint, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri has claimed that Smart City mission has been doing as planned and the physical contours for the mission will be visible to people by June 2018. He also mentioned that cities which have been selected have completed 147 individual projects at a cost of Rs 1,872 crore. “Another 396 projects are underway with the cost of Rs 14,672 crore. Overall, you are looking at $30 billion of investment,” he added.
While the investment has been meticulous and in large amounts, not much progress has been seen in reality in these smart cities. The mission focuses on equipping a small area of a city with smart amenities and replicating them pan-city at a later stage. The project has been inconsistent since 71% of the investment are to be used in those areas alone.
Each state government will fund a part of the mission in their states, with help from the central government and some private sources such as corporate social responsibility. It was recently reported by Business Today, however, that according to data from the urban affairs ministry, only 7% of the funds for Smart Cities has been released for the states, and even that amount is not completely used. BJP leaders are championing the initiative even after this underutilisation of funds.
Around 40 cities received Rs. 196 crores from the government. Ahmedabad spent the most amount of funds, Rs. 80.15 crores. Following closely are Indore at Rs. 70.69 crores, Surat at Rs. 43.41 crores and Bhopal at Rs. 42.86 crores, according to data by the ministry, the BS report said.
Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL) recently came under heavy criticism for charging from citizens for the smart services to be provided. PSCDCL asked Pune Municipal Corporation for funds to compensate for user charges. This indicates that the funds being released may not even be reaching the ground level, to start the operations.
This program has led to Indian cities competing with each other to get the smart city title. The government is also planning to organise a Smart City Awards to further instill a competitive feeling in the cities. This has only led to incomplete and substandard work in smaller areas that are under the spotlight of the mission.
The basic problems being faced by the citizens in these cities like water shortage, power cuts, bad roads and underdeveloped public areas, have been completely ignored in wake of this campaign. Several areas of the ‘smart cities’ Bhopal, Indore and Pune still face these issues on a daily basis in a majority of the areas.The mission also needs to sync with various other urban development projects like the Open Defecation free campaign to get maximum results but such a move is yet to be seen.