JAMMU, Jan 19: In a testimony of soft-paddling approach towards key point of Agenda of Alliance, which otherwise has been dubbed as ‘sacred document’ by the PDP-BJP Coalition Government, Housing and Urban Development Department has yet not submitted Smart City proposals to the Union Government despite lapse of considerable period of time.
This was admitted by none else than the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, who is also Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department while replying to the question of BJP MLA from Kathua Rajiv Jasrotia in the Legislative Assembly today.
During the Question Hour, the BJP MLA sought to know whether development of two Smart Cities in Jammu and Kashmir was part of Agenda of Alliance and what steps the Government has taken to translate this key point into reality.
While admitting that setting up of Smart Cities is part of Agenda of Alliance—a sacred document, the Deputy Chief Minister said, “the 2nd draft of Smart City proposal in respect of Jammu and Srinagar cities has been submitted by the consultant M/s Voyants Solutions Pvt Ltd engaged for this purpose but the same is under improvement in consultation with the stakeholders”.
He further said, “the proposals will be submitted to the Union Ministry of Urban Development for Smart City Challenge-II (Round-III)”, adding “the component wise cost for development of each Smart City shall emerge out only when final draft of Smart City proposal will be ready for submission to the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India”.
He, however, failed to specify the time-frame for submission of much-needed proposals to the Union Government, which otherwise is the foremost step towards turning Capital Cities into Smart Cities.
It is pertinent to mention here that EXCELSIOR in its edition dated November 2, 2016 had exclusively highlighted that next competition under Smart City Mission by the Union Ministry of Urban Development was on the cards but the State Government has failed to submit proposals. The reply of the Deputy Chief Minister has substantiated that there is no end to soft-paddling approach on this issue of immense importance for twin Capital Cities of Jammu and Kashmir.
When asked about the reasons for delay in holding elections to Urban Local Bodies in the State, which is depriving the State of huge Central assistance, the Deputy Chief Minister failed to give any elaborate reply and simply stated: “The Government is contemplating to conduct the elections of Urban Local Bodies and the issue is under active consideration of the Government. However, date has not been finalized as yet and shall be decided in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO)”.
The Deputy Chief Minister at the same time admitted that State has suffered losses to the tune of Rs 169.2895 crore on account of withholding of Central assistance for not conducting the Urban Local Bodies elections for the last four years.
About Housing for All Scheme, the Deputy Chief Minister said that 25 cities and towns have been selected under this scheme in Phase-I and for preparation of action plan Housing Demand Survey has been conducted as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry. “However, the Government of India has approved four projects for Baramulla, Udhampur, Anantnag and Kathua towns with 480 beneficiaries”, he added.
Out of these four projects, funds to the tune of Rs 134.40 lakh for creation of Capital Assets under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Housing for All (Urban Mission) have been released for two projects—Baramulla and Udhampur covering 224 EWS units during the current financial year.
“The Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) in case of selected towns in Phase-I for 37 new projects with 4915 EWS beneficiaries of 24 towns except Jammu city have been prepared and are under appraisal”, the Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development said.