New Town Kolkata risks losing ‘Smart City’ tag

Expressing displeasure over the lack of implementation of projects in New Town Kolkata under the centre’s Smart Cities Mission, housing minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that the region could be removed from the flagship scheme

The housing and urban affairs ministry will review the smart city tag for New Town Kolkata, union minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said, amid reports that the city’s authorities have not implemented any project under the centre’s flagship programme yet. New Town Kolkata was selected under the mission in May 2016. Nearly three months later, a senior state minister, however, had said that West Bengal would not be a part of the centre’s smart city project.

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“The request for inclusion in the 100 smart cities came from the towns themselves. We will have to review, if there has been no action for the last two years. Time has come for us to take stock of this formally and take a view,” Puri said, in an apparent indication that the city may be formally removed from the mission. The union housing and urban affairs minister, however, expressed hope that there might be some administrative issues, responsible for the scheme not being able to pick up in the city, but said two years were enough to ‘rectify’ any administrative problem.

He said after a city is selected for the mission, it has to appoint consultants, form a special purpose vehicle (SPV), draw projects and then, tendering of the projects takes place. “In this case (New Town), the process does not appear to have started. So, I think, we will have to take stock (of the situation),” Puri said.

The government aims to develop 100 smart cities under the mission. Under this, each city gets Rs 500 crores as central assistance for implementing projects. The ministry has already announced the names of 99 cities for the mission. On the 100th city slot of the mission being kept on hold for Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, he said, “I would like to see Shillong produce a DPR (detailed project report), which could stand the scrutiny. I have no doubt it would be forthcoming.”

 

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