NEW DELHI :
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) announced an ambitious plan for urban transformation with the launch of the – Smart Cities Mission, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) or PMAY in 2015. While some work has been initiated in these projects in five years since the launch, a lot more needs to be done, say experts.
The schemes were part of the manifesto of the NDA during the 2014 general elections and were aimed at providing jobs and boosting the economy. Union minister for housing and urban affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri is expected to address a webinar on Thursday on the five-year anniversary and also make some announcements regarding the schemes.
The Smart Cities Mission, which aimed at creating 100 smart cities, in the last five years has allocated projects worth ₹2,05,018 crore. Integrated command and control centres in around 50 cities, set up under the mission, have been repurposed as war rooms, and have been helping the civil administration cater to the needs of health care, logistics and lockdown monitoring in real time.
PMAY, which aims to provide at least 20 million homes to people belonging to the economically weaker sections and lower income categories by 2022, has sanctioned 10.54 million homes, of which 3.45 million houses have been completed and 6.52 million houses are under construction.
According to an analysis by the Observer Research Foundation on “Smart city making in India: Union budget 2020 and the way forward" published in March 2020, the physical and financial progress of the mission showed that 54% of the completed projects are only in four states and 34 smart cities have not even completed a single project.
According to the analysis as of 25 July 2019, out of the INR 2.1 lakh crore worth of approved projects, only 18 per cent of smart city projects have been completed; work orders have been issued for 37% projects; tenders have been issued for 16% projects and 29% of proposed projects are still at the ‘detailed project report’ stage.
“To conclude, into its fifth year of implementation, the Smart Cities Mission has turned out to be inherently ‘unsmart’, which has not been able to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development. It has been unable to provide conducive environment to the cities for their empowerment and in turn has not been able to overcome trust issues for investments and participation with openness and free will," the analysis said.
The AMRUT mission, which has been extended till 2022, projects worth ₹10,654 crore have been completed, of the ₹65,464 crore worth of projects that were awarded. The scheme is aimed at providing basic services (e.g. water supply, sewerage, urban transport) to households and build amenities in cities which will improve the quality of life for all, especially the poor and the disadvantaged.