MP gets 3 on smart list without pulling strings | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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MP gets 3 on smart list without pulling strings

The entry of three Madhya Pradesh cities, including Jabalpur, into the top 20 list of smart cities announced on Thursday has left many surprised but political observers say there doesn’t seem to be any ‘pulling of strings’ from politicos to get the smart rank.

bhopal Updated: Jan 29, 2016 16:52 IST
Rahul Noronha
MP is the only state to have 3 cities in the list, while many other states had to contend with 2 each at best.
MP is the only state to have 3 cities in the list, while many other states had to contend with 2 each at best. (Mujeeb Faruqui/ HT photo)

The entry of three Madhya Pradesh cities, including Jabalpur, into the top 20 list of smart cities announced on Thursday has left many surprised but political observers say there doesn’t seem to be any ‘pulling of strings’ from politicos to get the smart rank.

Besides Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh has got Bhopal and Indore too on the list. But, politically active Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal failed to make an entry and Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh had to contend with two each at best. This shows a semblance of a fair play, observers said.

Some even pointed out that everybody knew that CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan enjoyed a good rapport with union urban development minister Venkaiah Naidu from the days when Naidu was the BJP general secretary and later party president. However, politics seemed to have played little role in ensuring a cities inclusion in the list, observers said.

While Indore (11th score 59.89%) and Bhopal (20th score 55.47%) were seen as probable contenders in the list from the 98 cities that were in the reckoning from across the country, it was Jabalpur (7th score 63.03%) whose inclusion came as a surprise.

Political observers said Jabalpur, which is also called the sanskaardhaani of MP, could make it despite the fact that it didn’t really have a political godfather unlike Indore that has speaker Sumitra Mahajan as Lok Sabha MP. They term Jabalpur a surprise entry as it could make it even without a history of a good civic work by agencies. However, Jabalpur Mayor Swati Godbole said the city had made a significant leap towards a smart selection by “providing citizen services through the internet.” “This is what helped Jabalpur make it to the list,” Godbole said.

Seven cities from MP viz. Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior, Satna, Burhanpur, Gwalior and Jabalpur had figured among the 97 cities from which 20 were announced on Thursday as part of the first round.

MP at 27.63% has a comparatively lower percentage of its total population living in the urban areas in the state as compared to other states.

“The urban leadership in MP has been proactive and aggressive while disseminating information, involving the citizenry and pitching their projects to the union government. While Bhopal and Indore were always in the fray, and ahead of many cities in the countru, Jabalpur with its creative proposal made a surprise entry,” said Shashwat Bandopadhyay of the centre for environment, planning and technology (CEPT) Ahmedabad, who has been following the smart city proposals from across the country.

Plans to re-densify opposed

Congress and local residents of areas designated for redensification under the Smart City project are opposing the redensification plan. The residents of the areas, that include Shivaji Nagar and Tulsi Nagar, feel that not only will houses be demolished but that lakhs of trees and plants will also be felled as part of the plan.

Congress corporator Amit Sharma said, “We are not against the Smart City project, but cutting down of lakhs of trees will hit the greenery of Bhopal. It is not possible for BMC to plant the same number of trees.”

“This is a conspiracy of state government to hand over prime land to private builders in the name of Smart City. We will not allow the reconstruction of the area. To stop them, we will move the court,” he added.

Earlier, Congress state president Arun Yadav held a rally against the plan along with residents of the areas.