Smart City Jammu – Illusion or Reality

Rajan Gandhi
“100 Smart Cities Mission” was launched with a total budget of Rs 98,000 crore for the development of 100 smart cities and the rejuvenation of 500 others. Rs 48,000 crore has been earmarked for the Smart Cities and a total funding of Rs 50,000 crore for the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). A competition-based method was used for selecting cities for funding, based on an area-based development strategy. All over India, of the 5,151 projects initially proposed, only 3,629 have been actively pursued. Of these, about 25% of the projects have been completed. Both the capital cities of Jammu and Kashmir were selected by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in June 2017.
As per the guidelines the State Government is supposed to set up Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), engage Project Management Consultants (PMCs), hire necessary human resources, call tenders and issue work orders within a period of 12 to 18 months. However, our state failed to strictly adhere to the deadlines for all these preparatory activities, which created hurdles in the start of work on the projects in respect of both Jammu and Srinagar Smart Cities. As per the timeline fixed by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the cities which were selected in 2017 are required to complete all the projects by 2020-22. However, Jammu and Srinagar are unlikely to meet this deadline keeping in view dilly-dallying approach in utilization of funds released by the Union Government till date. During 2017-18 financial year, an amount of Rs 18 crore each was released in respect of Jammu and Srinagar Smart Cities while as during 2018-19 financial year an amount of Rs 40 crore each was given to the State for developing Jammu and Srinagar as Smart Cities. However, the concerned authorities have utilized only Rs 15 crore in respect of Jammu Smart City while as expenditure of Rs 12 crore was made with regard to Srinagar Smart City as per information in public domain. The failure to make any significant headway on development of twin Smart Cities has also put a question mark on the functioning of the State Level High Powered Steering Committee, which is comprised of top bureaucrats.
Total cost of Jammu Smart City project is estimated at Rs. 3637.71 Cr. The proposal of Area Based Development(ABD) and Pan City Solution will be financed through-Convergence – Rs. 1650.18 Cr (Central and State Schemes), PPP projects – Rs. 1003.24 Cr (Redevelopment and Mobility Projects), Smart City Funds- Rs.984.29 Cr, the Special Purpose Vehicle is supposed to generate its own revenues from the various projects and services such as development charges (betterment charge, impact fees, fire tax),trade tax, advertisement charges, utility charges (water supply/ solid waste), parking space, remunerative projects of ABD and Pan City. In addition, revenue shall be generated through land/ space monetization, transfer of development rights, betterment charges on public infrastructure, premium on relaxation of rules or additional FSI/FAR, vacant land tax, land pooling systems, regularization of structures permissible under Municipal Rules/Acts, Credit rating and floating municipal bonds, Value capture financing, capex budget (state plan funds), grant-in-aid and pooling of local revenue of JMC. Total O&M(operational and maintenance) cost for 10 years projected period is estimated at Rs. 345.77 Cr. As such total Lifetime Cost of the project is estimated at Rs. 3983.48 Cr.
Some cities are fast completing their planned projects like in Gujarat, an average of 20 projects have been completed per smart city while close to 19 projects per city have reached their conclusion in Madhya Pradesh. For example Jabalpur has already RFID tagged every household with a central command station established. All sanitary workers have been allotted RFID devices so that moment household waste is collected the concerned employee scans RFID installed outside the house and a SMS is sent to the resident of the house as confirmation for garbage collection and still if the resident has any complaint he/she can contact control room directly. All vehicles engaged in sanitation works are GPS enabled so that they can be monitored. Underground dumping bins have been installed at various points throughout the city and moment its 80% filled it’s in built sensor informs the control room for removal of the waste. Jabalpur Smart City has been awarded for NDMC ‘Smart Classroom’ in which 20 classes of 5 Government Higher Secondary Schools of the city have been turned into smart classes in which the syllabus can be taught through 2-D and 3-D images in different languages. Jabalpur Smart City also got award for ‘Waste to Energy Plant’ a new initiative in the field of environment conservation. In this project, Jabalpur Municipal Corporation has established Waste to Energy plant based on Public Private Partnership model in which 11.5 MW power is being produced. This produced electricity is being sold to the Vidyut Vitaran Company at the rate of Rs 6.39 paisa per unit. Similarly to decongest city 1000 bicycles have been placed at 100 cycle stands in collaboration with hero cycles and a Hexa cycle app is there through which anyone interested can rent out a cycle on hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis, then just has to scan the barcode at the back of cycle near seat and the cycle automatically gets unlocked. Person can use the cycle and leave it on any stand in the city.
Similarly Bhopal Smart City has been given the first award by the Government of India’s Department of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation for the unique initiative in the form of “Integrated Command Control Centre”. This command centre is the first of its kind in the country through which all 7 smart cities of the state have been connected with 20 services and are being constantly monitored. Through these services, state-level services like C.M. helpline, Solid Waste Management, Emergency services like Fire, Police and Health Service-108 and city level services like Mayor Express, Public Bike Sharing, Smart Street Light etc. are being monitored and controlled. The second award has been acquired by Bhopal Smart City for “Public Bike Sharing” which aims at environment conservation and for reducing traffic pressure on the main roads of the city. Started in June, 2017, as many as 36 thousand users of the city have been connected with this project availing benefits of 350 cycles through 69 cycle stations. For this a 12 km long and 5 m wide dedicated cycle track has been developed in the city. Indore of Madhaya Pradesh, cleanest city of India, has a tremendous success story of hard work, dedication with a mission to achieve. City converts all construction related waste into bricks to be used in beautification of the city, from plastic waste oil is extracted, from Sabazi Mandi waste CNG is produced to be used in city vehicles, from organic waste bio-gas is produced and from sewage treatment plant clean water is produced to be used for city gardens and other works. All this has been achieved with consistent efforts and with active participation of the public.
But like many other Central and State projects in the past like Cricket stadium at Bajalta, Jammu Division of Railways, AIIMS, Metro, River Front, Artificial Lake, Sewage Trunk line, Dry Port, Mubarak Mandi, Chenab Water supply, Janipur Flyover to name a few, this Smart City Project also seems to be a illusion only for Jammu. One can understand the problems being faced at Srinagar project due to the situation there due to terrorism but inordinate delay in implementation of Jammu Smart City is simply inexplicable. Whole project is supposed to be completed by 2022 but till now almost negligible work has been done for no reasons. Almost no work has been done on Solid Waste Management Plant despite even intervention of HC, no house hold connections of sewage with main pipe line, no heritage work started in old city, no pedestrian path or cycle paths till date, no metro work started, no augmentation of water supply, no solar power plants, no water harvesting plan in place, no additional parking places, no traffic lights, no improvement in mass transport system despite the fact that in its proposal for Smart City state administration had itself admitted that matadors operating in the city themselves are major reason for traffic jams. No OLA or UBER for taxis nor JUGNOO for autos till now in Jammu for reasons better known to authorities.
It seems there is zero planning with no intent right now. All this is going on despite the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is under President’s rule since June 2018. If authorities have failed to develop 845 acres of Smart City Area as per proposal submitted by them only how they are going to undertake development of 26,293 square kms of Jammu area is a million dollar question. No fixation of accountability for this delay, repeated transfer of JMC Commissioner which results in lack of continuity and administrative paralysis. If other states can do why not Jammu, are the concerned officials not capable, if not then bring the officers from other states on deputation as now J&K is going to be UT from 31st October and shunt out the dead wood. Delays only increase the cost beyond feasibility and then results into shelving the project. Authorities have already taken people of Jammu for enough rides and one hopes better sense and intent prevails to turn this illusion into reality.