One of the major developmental projects floated by the Modi Government soon after it assumed the reins of power in 2014 is of Smart Cities across the country. The fundamental objective is to give a semblance of modernism to our cities especially the state capitals, so that they become not only attractive but provide many civil facilities and amenities to the citizens of respective cities. This is not a small project and it is envisaged to mark transition of our cities from medievalism to modernism. The project has been carefully drawn by the Union Ministry of Housing. For quite some time, there was confusion about how many cities and which ones from among the cities of our state would have the good luck to come under the purview of Smart City. Finally, both capital cities meaning Srinagar and Jammu were identified to be the targets of the Smart Cities Project.
This was heartening news and people in Jammu region expressed happiness that this city of temples, that has come up not with planning but almost haphazardly, will now get a semblance of a reasonably comfortable and good looking city. The project envisages broadening and upgrading of roads and streets, smarting sewerage system, developing modern bus stand and giving a big face lift to the railway station. It also envisages improvement of water supply and health services, urban transport and numerous other development works. It was in the month of June last that the State Government was informed by the Union Housing Ministry about development of capital cities under Smart City Mission. The State Government, in pursuance of the information received from the Union Government, initiated the preliminary activity of creating the Board of Directors for each smart city who has been assigned the task of prioritizing activities. The State Government constituted Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) as Companies Limited by shares named as Jammu Smart City Limited and Srinagar Smart City Limited under the Companies Act, 2013 with authorized share capital of Rs 10 lakh, equity share of Rs 10 each and paid up capital of Rs 10 lakh for both the companies for implementation of smart city development projects.
However, the task of prioritization of activity has not been undertaken by the Board just because the Union Government has not as yet released the first instalment of the funds which computes to 200 crore rupees. Once the funds are released, in all probability the work will start. It is expected that the first instalment of funds in this regard would be released by the Union Government next month and with that the prioritization of works would be undertaken by the Board so that by the beginning of the next year the work on the mission in both capital cities begins. We hope that there is good coordination between the Housing Department and the Union Ministry of Housing so that no hassles are there in the release and utilization of funds.
However, we would like to say a word of caution. The manner in which the Smart Cities Mission has been given the media hype has raised the expectations of the people beyond limits. They are waiting for the day when work on the plan will begin. Inordinate delay in initiating work will have adverse effect and the Government should do all within its powers to ensure that the projects are completed according to the time frame and not delayed in any case.