J&K yet to get funds for development of Smart Cities

Lack of resources delaying River Tawi Front development

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Jan 30: State Government has yet not received funds from the Union Housing and Urban Development Ministry for development of Jammu and Srinagar as Smart Cities. Moreover, neither Project Management Consultancy nor Key Managerial Personnel have been engaged till date despite the fact that they have a key role to play in giving practical shape to the projects.
Both Jammu and Srinagar, the twin rotational capital cities of State made it to the list of 30 Smart Cities announced by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development on June 23, 2017. Srinagar figured at No.10 and Jammu at No.21 in the list of 30 Smart Cities, which were selected through competition from out of a total of 45 cities which contested in the third round.
Following announcement, the State Government vide Order No. 1081-GAD dated August 21, 2017 ordered creation of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs)—Jammu Smart City Limited and Srinagar Smart City Limited, which were subsequently registered as Limited Companies under Companies Act.
Thereafter, the charge of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) for Srinagar Smart City Limited and Jammu Smart City Limited was assigned to Chief Executive Officer J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) and Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation respectively.
However, the Chief Executive Officers have failed to engage the Project Management Consultancy (PMC) despite the fact that PMC has to play an important role in giving practical shape to the project proposals. Even Key Managerial Personnel and other support staff as per the approved structure have not been engaged by the CEOs of Jammu Smart City Limited and Srinagar Smart City Limited.
“Expression of Interest for engagement of PMC has been floated but due to poor response its last date was extended up to January 25, 2018”, said Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, who is also Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department in a written reply to the question of National Conference MLA from Nagrota Devender Singh Rana, adding “the Special Purpose Vehicles have issued advertisement for engagement of Key Managerial Personnel”.
“Proposal for release of first installment of due Central Share amounting to Rs 195 crore was submitted to the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Development vide Letter No. HUD/ Plan/ 66/ 2017 dated October 5, 2017. But, the funds are still awaited”, the Deputy Chief Minister said.
However, the House was not informed about the reasons behind delay in release of funds despite lapse of four months since the submission of request to the Union Government.
The Deputy Chief Minister said, “once PMC is engaged proposals shall be converted into projects and after formulation of Detailed Project Reports the execution shall take place”. All this indicates that no time-line has been fixed for start of work on Jammu and Srinagar Smart Cities.
In another disappointing revelation made by none else than the Deputy Chief Minister, the House was informed that sufficient funds for completion of work on sewerage system in old Jammu city were still awaited.
The comprehensive sewerage scheme for Greater Jammu city at an estimated cost of Rs 129.24 crore was taken up in year 2008 under JNNURM through National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) and the initial date of completion was March 2012 but because of dilly-dallying work the same had to be extended to March 2014.
“Due to stoppage of funding by Union Ministry of Urban Development because of non-achievement of 50% of financial progress with respect to DPR cost, the work remained suspended from 2014 to 2016-17”, the Deputy Chief Minister said, adding “on the basis of decision of State level High Power Steering Committee, the Planning Department released Rs 7.50 crore as additionality in September 2017 out of Capex Budget in convergence with Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) to the tune of Rs 5 crore”.
With these additional funds cumulative amount of Rs 70.21 crore has been released till date for the project out of which Rs 65.26 crore has been utilized till date, the Housing Minister said in a written reply to the question of BJP MLA from Jammu East Rajesh Gupta.
“Now NBCC has projected demand of funds as per revised DPR costing Rs 105 crore and the same is under technical vetting with Development Commissioner Works”, the DyCM said, adding “the execution of project has now been resumed with ending March 2018 as target date of completion”.
However, by any stretch of imagination this deadline cannot be met especially when the Deputy Chief Minister himself admitted in the House that completion of project depends upon the release of balance funds as per the revised DPR by the Planning, Development and Monitoring Department.
The resource constraints have also been creating obstacles in start of work on River Tawi Front development on the pattern of Sabarmati River Front.
“The execution of project will take place on its sanction. However, on pilot basis execution of 1st phase of project between 4th Tawi Bridge to Main Tawi Bridge is proposed to be taken up after mobilization of resources from HUDCO as institutional loan to be dovetailed from JDA funding”, the Deputy Chief Minister informed the House.