Rajasthan is moving ahead at a rapid pace in terms of development of smart cities. On the sidelines of the one day ‘Smart City Conclave’ in Udaipur, principal secretary, local self government, government of Rajasthan and State mission director, Smart Cities, Manjit Singh spoke to Sudhir Chowdhary in length about various initiatives pertaining to the development of smart cities in Rajasthan. Excerpts:
Is this event the first of its kind in the country in terms of development of smart cities?
I don’t think I can comment whether this conclave is the first of its kind in the country. However, Rajasthan is moving ahead at a rapid pace in terms of development of smart cities. Among the first 20 smart cities to be developed, as announced by the Union government, two of them are from Rajasthan—Jaipur and Udaipur. I think it is indeed a matter of pride for us that two of our cities have been shortlisted.
The manner in which the Rajasthan government is moving for development of smart cities, I think Rajasthan will have a quantum lead over other states…
Well, it could be possible considering that the work will begin for the Udaipur smart city by June 15. We are fully geared up for the prestigious project. Special purpose vehicles (SPVs) have already been created. The project management consultants (PMC) will be appointed by end of this month.
Rajasthan, I believe, has a number of ‘firsts’ to its credit in the urban development and housing sector?
Absolutely. Thanks to the vision and leadership of our chief minister, Vasundhara Raje —tremendous work is going on in this sector. As far as ‘firsts’ are concerned let me tell you that Rajasthan is the first state to get approval under AMRUT mission. Under this mission, 29 cities of the state will be covered at a total estimated project cost of R6,000 crore. In fact, the state government will spend a whopping R40,000 crore in next four years on various schemes including housing for all, Swachh Bharat Mission as well as AMRUT.
Rajasthan has also been the first state to implement the Anti Defacement Act 2005, the first state to have master plan for all towns and the first state to execute an MoU with EESL for replacement of all existing street lighting with energy efficient LEDs. As many as 15 lakh streetlights will be converted into LED based lights by March 2017.
Furthermore, Rajasthan is also the first state to provide financial resources for urban local bodies through innovations such as Urban Cess, Rajasthan Transport Infrastructure Development Fund, Betterment Levy on Additional FAR, Rajasthan Urban Development Fund etc.
What will be the role of special purpose vehicles in the development of Udaipur as a smart city?
A two-tier structure of SPVs will be used for the development of the Udaipur smart city. While there will be a Master SPV (as a holding or investment company) with subsidiary implementing vehicles for Walled City and Pan City initiatives. The smart city Master SPV will be an umbrella institution responsible for conceiving, planning, appraisal, deployment of funds, implementation, management of urban assets and service delivery, while the subsidiary vehicles will take care of implementation process.