Two years on, Karnal Smart City project moving at snail’s pace
Two years after chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s constituency Karnal was selected under the Smart City Mission, nothing has changed on the ground as work on the mega project is moving at a snail’s pace.
Of the 57 projects planned under the mission, at least 40 worth Rs 1,022 crore have been kept under the area-based development and 17 with a total outlay of Rs 149 crore under the pan-city solutions. But as of now, only Rs 103 crore has been released to Karnal Smart City Limited (KSCL) under the mission.
Only four small projects worth Rs 11.15 crore, including the city bus service and installation of musical fountains, have been completed and the other big projects are still in the tendering stage. At least seven projects costing Rs 88.87 crore, including open-air gyms, smart utilities, earmarked cycle track and storm water drainage are under execution. The KSCL has failed to spend even 50% of its first grant of Rs 200 crore.
Eyeing the state assembly elections, the BJP government has now directed the chief executive officer of the KSCL Rajiv Mehta to speed up the tendering process of some big-ticket projects, including facelift of the Mughal Canal.
Mehta said the tendering process of some big projects would be over by July-end. “We will complete the storm water project under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation with a cost of Rs 84.5 crore and over 8,700 people will be benefitted under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana by end of this year,” he said, adding that work under the Smart City Mission could not kick-start due to delay in the appointment of a consultant. The KSCL hired a Delhi-based consultant, KPMG, for Rs 19 crore in October last year. But the works under the mission are yet to pick up.
“Nothing has been done in the past two years. I don’t think that Karnal will become a smart city. Long traffic jams, lack of cleanliness and stray cattle menace have become bane of city residents,” said Manjari Mudgil, a Karnal resident.
KSCL’s general manager and executive engineer SP Thakral said: “The appointment of the project consultant was mandatory before starting the work and this led to the delay. But now, we have received Rs 103 crore, including Rs 53 crore from the Centre and Rs 50 crore from the state, for the first phase of the Smart City Mission. The tendering process for some of the projects is underway and will be completed soon.”