Tough for cities to smarten up

Cities to face tough com­pe­ti­tion, show good JnNURM track record, among other things, to ac­cess 100 crore smart city fund

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

Let­ter to all state gov­ern­ments to short­list po­ten­tial smart cities (By July 31, 2015)*

On the ba­sis of re­sponse from states and union ter­ri­to­ries, the list of po­ten­tial 100 smart cities will be an­nounced (Around Au­gust 4, 2015)

Each po­ten­tial smart city pre­pares a pro­posal as­sisted by con­sul­tants from a panel pre­pared by MoUD and a hand­hold­ing ex­ter­nal agency (States to be given three to four months to pre­pare pro­pos­als)

Pro­posal sub­mit­ted. Eval­u­a­tion be­gins by panel of ex­perts

Se­lected cities de­clared (By Jan­uary af­ter post eval­u­a­tion of pro­pos­als)

Se­lected cities set up spe­cial pur­pose ve­hi­cle

Other cities pre­pare to im­prove their pro­posal for next round of the chal­lenge

Fund­ing starts for se­lected smart cities (Around Jan­uary 2016)

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s am­bi­tious 100 smart cities ini­tia­tive is aimed at pro­vid­ing core in­fra­struc­ture such as ad­e­quate wa­ter and as­sured elec­tric­ity sup­ply, san­i­ta­tion, af­ford­able hous­ing, ro­bust IT con­nec­tiv­ity, sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment and safety and se­cu­rity to cit­i­zens. Un­der this scheme, states will have to face stiff com­pe­ti­tion to get se­lected and sub­mit a smart city pro­posal (SCP). A great pro­posal will not be enough to guar­an­tee cities a place in the list to be el­i­gi­ble for the yearly ₹ 100 crore fund­ing. They will be eval­u­ated on the ba­sis of their per­for­mance un­der the JnNURM (Jawa­har­lal Nehru Na­tional Ur­ban Re­newal Mis­sion) scheme – the re­forms achieved and projects com­pleted, op­er­a­tional online griev­ance re­dres­sal sys­tems, monthly e-news­let­ter and timely pay­ment of salaries to em­ploy­ees of their ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies.

Amit Bhatt, strat­egy head of ur­ban trans­port EM­BARQ In­dia, thinks it might not be easy for the gov­ern­ment to se­lect the cities once states sub­mit pro­pos­als and at the most only 20 are likely to be picked out in the first year. The re­main­ing cities would have to go back to the draw­ing board and re­work their pro­pos­als and sub­mit it in the sec­ond year. Also, un­like JnNURM, where money was al­lo­cated to all states, in case of smart cities, states will have to com­pete for get­ting funds.

The JnNURM scheme was launched by for mer prime min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh in 2005 for a pe­riod of seven years and was aimed at im­prov­ing the qual­ity of life and in­fra­struc­ture across cities. It was ex­tended for two years from April 2012 to March 2014.

States com­pet­ing for the smart cities chal­lenge will be as­sessed on a score of 100 where they will be given marks for the num­ber of house­hold san­i­tary la­trines, an online griev­ance re­dres­sal sys­tem and re­sponses to com­plainants, monthly e - news­let­ters, e l e c t r onic pro­ject-wise mu­nic­i­pal bud­get

₹ ex­pen­di­ture in­for­ma­tion for the last two fi­nan­cial years, to­tal col­lec­tion of in­ter­nally gen­er­ated rev­enues in the form of taxes, fees and charges, salaries paid to em­ploy­ees of ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies, per­cent­age of city-level JnNURM re­forms achieved and per­cent­age of JnNURM projects com­pleted.

Pratap Padode, founder and di­rec­tor of the Smart Cities Coun­cil of In­dia, says that the “smart cities com­pe­ti­tion will bring in fi­nan­cial dis­ci­pline. We can ex­pect a lot of states to get fil­tered in the first round it­self as most of them do not even have their books in place.”

What the gover nment is try­ing to do here is to cover all as­pects of gov­er­nance. With this mix of mea­sures, the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to gauge the ca­pac­ity of states to achieve cer­tain tar­gets. While one state may be good at con­cep­tu­al­is­ing projects, it may not have a griev­ance re­dres­sal sys­tem in place, which means that it may have ex­e­cuted projects ir­re­spec­tive of the needs of its cit­i­zens whereas another state may have an ex­cel­lent rev­enue gen­er­a­tion model but an av­er­age track record un­der the JnNURM scheme, says Padode.

The em­pha­sis on t he JnNURM scheme, ini­ti­ated by the pre­vi­ous UPA gov­ern­ment, in­di­cates the gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion to con­tinue the scheme in its new avatar. “A huge amount of money has been spent on the JnNURM scheme and through this score­card the gov­ern­ment wants to send out the mes­sage to states that if they have not achieved much on this front or been neg­li­gent in the past, they can­not go scot free with unutilised fund­ing this time round as the smart cities scheme comes with a set of safe­guards. It would not be sur­pris­ing to see that states with an abysmally low JnNURM score be­ing asked to cite rea­sons why they did not per­form. A low score on this count may put a ques­tion mark on the im­ple­men­ta­tion and ex­e­cu­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a state,” Padode adds.

Ye t a n o t h e r g u i d e l i n e re­quires states to pub­lish on their web­sites the mu­nic­i­pal

bud­get ex­pen­di­ture de­tails for the last two fi­nan­cial years. The guide­lines pro­vide for im­po­si­tion of penal­ties for de­lays in ser­vice de­liv­ery and look for im­prove­ment in in­ter­nal re­source gen­er­a­tion over the last three years. The fact that their books have been up­dated on time is in­dica­tive of abovethe-board fi­nan­cial dis­ci­pline. De­lays are in­dica­tive of ques­tion­able prac­tices.

States will also be as­sessed on the ba­sis of salaries paid by ur­ban lo­cal bod­ies up to last month. As much as 60% of any state bud­get goes to­wards pay­ment of salaries. If the state has not been prompt in pay­ing its em­ploy­ees, it means that it can­not do much to ex­e­cute its projects on time as its em­ploy­ees will be un­happy and a dis­grun­tled lot, says Padode.

A quar­terly news­let­ter will also be manda­tory. This again is im­por­tant be­cause not main­tain­ing one is in­dica­tive of the fact that the state has not been proac­tive in terms of com­mu­ni­cat­ing what it has achieved in the quar­ter or it has noth­ing new to say be­cause it has not achieved any­thing, he adds.

Smart city pro­pos­als sub­mit­ted by the states will in­clude de­tails of as­sured elec­tric­ity sup­ply with at least 10% of the smart city’s energy re­quire­ment com­ing from so­lar power, ad­e­quate wa­ter sup­ply, in­clud­ing waste wa­ter re­cy­cling and storm wa­ter re­use, san­i­ta­tion, in­clud­ing solid waste man­age­ment, rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing, smart me­ter­ing, ro­bust IT con­nec­tiv­ity and dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion, pedes­trian- friendly path­ways, push for non-mo­torised trans­port (eg walk­ing and cy­cling), in­tel­li­gent traf­fic man­age­ment, non-ve­hi­cle streets/zones, smart park­ing, energy-ef­fi­cient street light­ing, in­no­va­tive use of open spa­ces, vis­i­ble im­prove­ment in the area (eg re­plac­ing over­head elec­tric wiring with un­der­ground wiring, en­croach­ment-free public ar­eas, and en­sur­ing safety of cit­i­zens, es­pe­cially chil­dren, women and el­derly).

For re­de­vel­op­ment and green­field mod­els of smart cities, apart from the es­sen­tial fea­tures men­tioned above, at least 80% build­ings should be en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient and green.

Also, of the to­tal hous­ing pro­vided in green­field de­vel­op­ment, at least 15% should be in the af­ford­able hous­ing cat­e­gory, ac­cord­ing to the smart cities mis­sion state­ment and guide­lines.

“Trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity are key to the suc­cess of the smart city mis­sion and are linked to another key as­pect: sus­tain­abil­ity. Pru­dent fi­nan­cial plan­ning is es­sen­tial and should be based on a ro­bust pro­ject for­mu­la­tion and ex­e­cu­tion ar­range­ments, which en­sure that we achieve tar­gets within time and as per qual­ity stan­dards, with a clear un­der­stand­ing of life-cy­cle costs and mea­sures. Since the spirit of com­pe­ti­tion needs to in­fuse the mis­sion in all as­pects, it is not nec­es­sary that we in­ter­vene in 100 cities at one time. Keep in mind that the first ‘win­ners’ of the chal­lenge are win­ning on the ba­sis of smart city plans,” says Ja­gan Shah, di­rec­tor, Na­tional In­sti­tute of Ur­ban Af­fairs.

The ex­e­cu­tion of projects will take about five years, dur­ing which there will be learn­ing and im­prov­ing of per­for­mance. The first cities will be­come mod­els and will cre­ate the good prac­tices that can be repli­cated in other cities. It is a steep learn­ing curve that is ex­pected to in­fuse smart­ness into the whole ecosys­tem. Aware, in­formed and vig­i­lant -- read ‘smart’ -- cit­i­zens will be the most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent in this recipe for change, Shah adds.

IS­TOCK *Dates are in­dica­tive

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