In order to enable every state to be included in the Centre’s Smartcity project, the Urban Development Ministry has communicated the ‘deficiencies’ in the plan submitted by 23 cities across the country that failed to make the cut.
The Ministry will soon organise a workshop to guide these 23 cities in improving their Smart City plans so they can submit improved proposals by April 15 this year.
The move comes against the backdrop of concerns being raised in some political quarters with no city from these 23 states and UTs, making it to the first list of 20 Smart Cities announced by Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on January 28.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had taken up the issue with Naidu and sought to know why none of the three cities proposed by the state, was included in the first list.
Of the 97 cities evaluated in the first round of the competition by independent evaluation teams, Bihar’s Bhagalpur was ranked 65, Biharshariff ranked 91 and Muzaffarpur at 94.
Naidu explained in detail to Bihar CM the selection procedure and objectives of the project and said all the 100 cities included in the Smart City Mission will be covered over a period of three years.
He told Kumar that Bhagalpur which was ranked top among the three cities in the state, will get to participate in the fast track competition after addressing the deficiencies identified by the evaluation team.
Accordingly, the Ministry has communicated the deficiencies in the Smart City plan to all the 23 cities which were participating in the fast track competition.
The gaps identified in the Smart City proposals of these cities ranged from deficiencies in self-assessment, disconnect between city vision and citizens’ aspirations not being reflected in the vision document, disconnect between strategic plan and implementation plan of respective cities, lack of clarity and consistency in the proposed action plans.
Besides inconsistencies in costs and resource mobilisation plans, weak convergence of different schemes of central and state governments, feasibility of implementation plans, non-submission of required resolutions from respective urban local bodies in support of the claims made in the plans were also found in the proposals.
According to the ministry, the deficiencies communicated in respect of Bhagalpur were that although the Smart city proposal came out with a vision of capitalizing on the distinct assets of the city like its heritage, neat surroundings, home grown silk and industry, the action plan proposed was more about developing a few key streets of the town with pedestrianisation and greening the edges. According to the evaluation team, the focus of the strategic plan of Bhagalpur was more on improving basic infrastructure, which is related more to ‘Atal Mission’ than on promoting smartness of the city as visualised under Smart City Mission.
It was also pointed out that existing service levels in the town particularly in respect of transportation were not indicated properly in the plan.