Reluctant states derail Centre's Smart City dreams

With states' reluctance in releasing their share of grant for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship Smart City Mission project, it seems all the efforts of Urban
Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu are going into vain. According to latest report, out of total 40 cities selected for being developed as Smart Cities, states have not released their share of fund for 32 cities, which is enough to contemplate the fate of Smart City project.

According to a written reply in the Lok Sabha by UD Ministry, the Centre has already released its share for the 40 cities, but states have either not released any amount of their share or released a portion there of.

Interestingly, out of the 18 states that have shown cold response in expediting the project, nine are BJP-ruled. The BJP-ruled states that have not yet made up their mind to expedite the Smart City project include Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh (BJP is an ally).

The other non-BJP ruled states which have not come forward in releasing their share of grant include Delhi, Bihar, Kerala, Telangana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura, while two Union Territories --- Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Chandigarh --- are also in the list of not issuing funds for the project.

In contrary to this, the Centre is gearing up to release its forth list of Smart Cities in the next 2-3 months as the proposal of Smart City for round 3 would be submitted by March 31. In the forth list, the Centre would announce the list of 20 cities that would be developed as Smart Cities.

"Under the Smart City project, the share of Centre and state is in the ration of 50. The Centre is committed to grant Rs 500 crore for each city for the five years and equal share of fund would be funded by the states and urban local bodies for five years," a senior official of Urban Development Ministry said.

"The Centre has already released about Rs 200 crore for each city, but some states have not released even a single penny for the project despite repeated reminders for the same," the official said.

It has been planned to develop 100 smart cities by 2022, Al the smart cities would be developed in such a way that it would change the way urban India lives. The smart cities would enjoy uninterrupted power and water supplies, efficient public transport, internet connectivity, and e-governance along with quality infrastructure. The project was launched by PM Modi in June 2015.
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