Smart City list: Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided not to be part of the NDA government’s flagship mission of making the city a Smart City. The reason behind backing out is Shiv Sena – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s junior alliance partner in the state and Centre – has reservations about the mission guidelines. They say it can weaken their hold on the municipal body. The Sena is opposed to handing over the implementation of the mission to a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) where the civic body will have very little stake, as reported by the Indian Express. The new Smart City list was released today. From Thiruvananthapuram, Naya Raipur, Rajkot and more, the new list of 30 cities announced today for development as smart cities under the Centre’ Smart City Mission takes to 90 the number of cities selected for part-financing by the Centre. Earlier, Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who was in Mumbai for a review of urban projects this month, was informed by Ajoy Mehta, the BMC Commissioner of Mumbai, that they have decided to withdraw from the mission.
An Urban Development Ministry spokesperson also confirmed that this time they had not received any proposal from Mumbai. The SPV would have equal equity shareholding of the municipal body, the state government and also those from the Centre as well as private firms, as per the Union government’s mission guidelines. The Center offered Rs 100 crore annually for five years under the mission, according to the sources in the BMC administration, they felt that the amount is too little for the corporation to give up its autonomy on development projects. BMC spokesperson Ram Dotonde was quoted by Indian Express as saying that the BMC had submitted its proposal to the state government during previous rounds of the Smart City competition.
However, it had 14 conditions attached, which were mainly about how the BMC should have a major say in the Smart City proposals for Mumbai. However, the conditions were not acceptable to the government. Meanwhile, Sanjay Raut, another Sena spokesperson said that Mumbai is already a Smart City and that if the Union government wants to make it better, they should know that it contributes Rs 2 lakh crore in revenue to them and they should give us more funding.
He also added that under no circumstance should the process involve weakening the powers of the corporation and the elected representatives. Earlier too the party had criticised PM Narendra Modi’s Smart City mission in an editorial dated December 2015 in the party mouthpiece Saamana. It said, “Under the pretext of Smart Cities, a corporate entity like SPV is being established to manage Mumbai’s development. Maharashtra’s capital will be turned into a centrally governed colony.”