While issues like sanitation, garbage disposal, crime, unruly traffic, stray dog and cattle menace and absence of various basic amenities continue to mar the city, armed with more than 30,000 suggestions from the public, the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC) on Tuesday gave the final approval to the ambitious Smart City project in its house meeting.
Though Tuesday’s proceedings of the MC meeting entailed screening a documentary depicting the development that would take place under the Smart City project, only time would tell how far the proposed project actually goes in resolving the lack of conveniences to the public. The proposal was passed without giving any councillors, including the ones from SAD, BJP and Congress, a chance to speak, taking them all by surprise.
Speaking about the meeting, Raj Kanwal Preet Pal Singh Lucky, leader of the opposition in the MC house, said, “While there is a lot that still requires discussion, the councillors were not at all given a chance to speak. We urged the MC authorities to listen to us but their response was just ‘pass, pass, pass’ and the house meet was adjourned abruptly.”
Meanwhile municipal commissioner Pradeep Sabharwal said, “The resolution giving a final approval to the project was passed unanimously as the plan for the project had been prepared beforehand, keeping in view the suggestions obtained from the public. It just required the final seal of the MC house, which was given today.” He added that soon a meeting in this regard would be held in Chandigarh as well.
Amritsar is among the 100 cities chosen to be developed into Smart Cities under the Central government sponsored project. Its first stage included a 100-mark state-level assessment. The MC had somehow managed to clear the Smart City assessment, which entailed a state-level 100-mark test, scoring a total of 60 marks in the first phase in 11 different areas.
These areas included installation of sanitary latrines (10 marks), online complaints (5 marks), e-newsletter (5 marks), displaying its budget details of two years on its website (5 marks), providing various services under Right to Service Act (5 marks), payment of salaries (5 marks), Pre-audit (5 marks), revenue collection (5 marks), recoveries of water supply dues (5 marks), development (5 marks) and e-governance (5 marks).
Post assessment, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana were the three cities chosen for the project in Punjab. The second phase entailed public participation and suggestions about what the residents expected out of the project for selection among the top 20 cities to be chosen for the Smart City project.
The MC authorities could be seen holding public meetings and seminars and made the residents fill up special forms manually, besides also encouraging them to post their suggestions on its website. The walled city area has been chosen under the area-based development plan, while pan city there is a proposal to provide state-of-the-art amenities like CCTV cameras, wi-fi connectivity, LED and solar lighting besides smart traffic systems.
Sabharwal said a special purpose vehicle would be constituted for the implementation of the project under the Companies Act 2013. “This body would be centrally funded and a CEO and a board of directors would be appointed under it,” he said.