JAMMU, June 18: The fate of State Government’s proposals for converting Jammu and Srinagar into Smart Cities will be decided on June 23 when the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Department will announce the result of competition for Smart City Challenge-II (Round-III).
The Smart Cities Mission was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2015 to improve basic urban infrastructure in the country and while naming 100 Smart Cities across the country, the Union Urban Development Ministry had allocated only one city to Jammu and Kashmir for development as Smart City. However, following persistent demand from the PDP-BJP Coalition Government, one more Smart City was sanctioned for J&K.
Accordingly, all the States including Jammu and Kashmir were asked to prepare proposals for the identified cities as expeditiously as possible so as to participate in the Smart City Challenge, which is being used for the first time to select cities for funding and is considered as spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism.
However, J&K failed to participate in the earlier competitions under Smart Cities Mission because of inordinate delay in formulation of proposals, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding till few months back the proposals for both the capital cities were at the stage of formulation and this was admitted by none else than the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, who is also Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department, on the floor of the Legislative Assembly on January 19, 2017.
After hectic efforts and with many difficulties, the Housing and Urban Development Department of J&K Government finally succeeded in preparation of Smart City Proposals through M/s Voyants Solutions Pvt Ltd and accordingly the same were submitted to the Union Ministry recently.
“The fate of the proposals will be decided on June 23, 2017 when the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development will announce the result of competition for Smart City Challenge-II (Round-III)”, sources informed.
They said that Housing and Urban Development Department of J&K is waiting for the results with crossed fingers as failure to emerge winner in the competition would invite sharp criticism as already the PDP-BJP Government is in the dock for its inability to participate in earlier competitions/rounds.
The setting up of Smart Cities is also part of Agenda of Alliance, which has been dubbed as sacred document by the PDP-BJP Coalition Government as such failure to emerge winner in the forthcoming competition will put question marks on implementation of Agenda of Alliance also.
The component wise cost for development of each Smart City will emerge out only when the proposal is cleared by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Department, sources further said.
Though the Central Government has kept a provision of Rs 500 crore in Rs 80,000 crore worth Prime Minister’s Development Package for development of Jammu and Srinagar as Smart Cities yet this amount can be utilized only when the J&K emerges as winner in the competition, the result of which is going to be announced on June 23, sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that under the Smart City Mission, the focus is laid on inclusive development of the selected city in order to create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities. The core infrastructure elements in a smart city include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, robust IT connectivity and digitalization, good governance especially e-governance and citizen participation and sustainable environment etc.