Chandigarh: Experts to assess impact of Smart City projects
To comprehensively assess the effectiveness of the multi-crore infrastructural projects being implemented by the Chandigarh Smart City Limited (CSCL), a dedicated impact assessment cell (IAC) will soon be created within it. “Unless we conduct an impact assessment of the projects, we don’t get to know how they have influenced lives of residents,” said Anindita Mitra, chief executive officer of the CSCL.
Stating that every project should be comprehensively looked at during different stages of its planning and implementation, Mitra said, “We will bring in people whose core competency is analysing projects’ impact. They will measure them on fixed parameters, which will differ from project to project. These experts will conduct the study on scientific lines.”
The impact assessment will be conducted for both ongoing projects and those which are yet to be implemented. “It will be a continuous process. There are different stages in a project life cycle and their affect will be assessed in the immediate, medium and long term,” said Mitra.
Projects worth more than ₹2,000-crore are planned under the Smart City Mission and CSCL has started implementing works worth ₹1,225-crore till now. Of the 37 projects under CSCL’s ambit, five have been completed while 20 are in the implementation stage. For most of these, the capital expenditure is to be made by the CSCL, while the maintenance costs will be borne by the municipal corporation.
Some of the major projects that have taken off recently include the ₹700-crore upgradation of five sewage treatment plants (STPs), ₹34-crore augmentation of water storage capacity at Sector 39 water works, ₹33-crore legacy waste mining, public bicycle sharing project and construction of Integrated Command Control Centre in Sector 17. The ₹591 crore pan city 24x7 water supply project is likely to start at the beginning of the next year.
CSCL working under scanner
CSCL’s working has come under scanner, with project implementation getting off to a slow start. The city was even put in the list of 20 worst smart cities in the Union urban affairs ministry’s assessment. It failed to achieve the ₹6,724-crore investment target committed to the ministry in 2016.
A major setback for the smart city mission was when the UT forest department refused to hand over land for one of CSCL’s largest projects – a ₹4,000-crore commercial hub in Sector 43 under the public-private partnership model. Failing to get the land from UT, the CSCL board scrapped the project in 2019. It also approached the central government multiple times requesting to revise its smart city plan from around ₹6,724 crore to ₹2,900 crore.
Social projects on agenda
The CSCL will also move to diversify its activities from merely infrastructure projects to social projects. “Currently, we are working on infrastructural projects only. In addition to these, we also need to work on projects which have a wider impact on the quality of life of people,” said Mitra.
One such social project may include creation of a digital library. “A digital library, particularly during the Covid pandemic, can benefit the residents, particularly students and children. It will have books on all major subjects. For its creation, we will undertake feasibility study and prepare a model for its implementation,” said Mitra.