| Source: PTI

Puri responds to Gandhi on smart cities: Works worth Rs 32,000 crore started, tendered

The statement comes after Rahul Gandhi accused BJP of making empty promises.

A day after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi targeted the Centre for "under-utilisation" of Smart City Mission funds, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri today hit back, saying the UPA government had spent only 68 per cent of the Rs 46,000 crore in its city-modernisation JNNURM scheme during its 10-year rule.

Gandhi had yesterday accused the BJP of making "empty promises", latching on to media reports that out of the total Rs 9,860 crore released to 60 cities under the Smart City Mission by the Centre, only seven per cent, or about Rs 645 crore, has been utilised so far.

Puri, the Minister of State (independent charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, took to Twitter to advise the Opposition leader against selectively choosing information, saying 7 per cent was the amount of payments that have been made, while the actual payments due were 31 per cent.

"@OfficeOfRG's sudden interest in #SmartCities is welcome. He should, however, guard against cherry picking info. 7% in his tweet is just payments made for work done, actual payment due is 31%. In 3 yrs of #ModiGovt work worth 32K Cr already started & tendered," Puri said in a tweet.

"#SmartCities require establishment of SPVs; designing & planning of projects. In 10 yrs of UPA just 68% of 46K Cr spent on Jnnurm. Cities in @INCIndia ruled states languish at bottom in #SmartCities ranking. Would encourage @OfficeOfRG to have better informed #dyNastyBhakts," he tweeted.

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was a city-modernisation scheme launched by the Congress-led UPA government in 2005. However, it was replaced by the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) after the NDA government came to power in 2014.

"Dear Modi bhakts, Out of 9,860 crores for the Smart Cities only 7% has been used. China is out competing us while your master gives us empty slogans. Please watch this video and advise him to focus on what matters- job creation for India #BJPEmptyPromises (sic)," read a tweet from Gandhi's official handle yesterday.

According to an official Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry statement today, Puri had informed a Parliamentary consultative committee meeting recently that a total investment of around Rs 1,91,155 crore has been proposed by the 90 cities under their smart city plans.

He said projects focusing on revamping 'an identified area (Area Based Projects)' are estimated to cost Rs 1,52,500 crore.

Besides, an amount of Rs 1,998.49 crore has been kept aside for O&M (operation and maintenance) cost of the mission and other contingencies, the statement said.

Projects worth Rs 1,35,459 crore are in various stages of implementation, while 147 projects worth Rs 1,872 crore have been completed, it added.

Puri said the implementation of the mission is done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be set up at city-level in the form of a limited company and are promoted by the State/UT and the Urban Local Body (ULB) jointly both having 50:50 equity shareholding.

So far 77 'smart cities' have established their SPVs, he informed.

Puri said the tendering process has started for 283 projects with a cost of Rs 16,549 crore and detailed project reports are being prepared for 2,029 projects worth Rs 1,02,366 crore.
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