Mumbai, Navi Mumbai may not make it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Smart Cities’ project
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Maharashtra government is mulling to pull out Mumbai and Navi Mumbai from the race for selection under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet ‘Smart Cities’ mission if the two municipal corporations do not comply with the Centre’s conditions for the scheme.
The two cities on Tuesday once again failed to make the cut in the Union government’s third list of cities selected under the mission — mainly due to the conditional proposals submitted in the wake of opposition from the political parties controlling these civic bodies.
The Centre’s latest list of chosen cities includes five cities from Maharashtra — Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombivli, Thane, Aurangabad and Nashik. This is in an addition to Pune and Solapur that were shorlisted in the first round.
While the state government is yet to take a decision on whether to retain Mumbai ‘s proposal for a smart city, the state urban development department has already issued a letter to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), giving it a final opportunity to adhere to the Centre’s conditions.
“We have not taken any decision in case of Mumbai yet. In Navi Mumbai’s case, we have already issued a letter saying if the corporation is not comfortable adhering to the Centre’s conditions, we will replace Navi Mumbai with a proposal from another city for the next round of selection,” a senior official from the state urban development department said.
The official added that the state government will take a decision on Mumbai once chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is on an official three-day visit to the US, is back in the city. With the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) headed to polls in early 2017, the decision regarding Mumbai inclusion in the Smart Cities list is being seen as a politically sensitive one.
Besides Mumbai and Navi Mumbai, Amravati remains to be the only city yet to be selected by the Centre out of the ten city proposals the Maharashtra government submitted to the it .
Corporators of both the Shiv Sena-controlled BMC and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-led NMMC had opposed the structure of the ‘Smart Cities’ mission, which calls for a special purpose vehicle. The entity is proposed to have a full-time CEO, representatives of the local body, the State and the Centre to plan, approve, release funds, implement, and monitor the smart city development projects. Politicos from the BMC and the NMMC said this will lead to dilution of the municipal corporations’ power.
While the NMMC’s general body outright rejected Navi Mumbai’s participation in the Centre’s scheme, a decision that the state government later suspended, the BMC general body cleared it, but only with a set of amendments. The amendments include making Mumbai’s mayor the chairperson of the special purpose vehicle, ensuring 50% of its members are from the BMC, reserving 85% of new jobs created for locals, among others, went as an attachment with the city’s proposal.
Sudhakar Sonawne, NMMC mayor, said, “We have no problem if the state government wants to pick some other city for the Centre’s scheme. The Centre’s terms and conditions are not acceptable to us. Besides, the elements that make a smart city as per the Union government’s norms, such as good drainage, sewerage, schools, public transport and so on, are already there in Navi Mumbai.”
The Smart Cities project
--Overall, the Union government has 98 proposals before it from cities to be developed under its ‘Smart Cities’ mission. Of the 98, the Maharashtra government had submitted ten proposals – Pune, Solapur, Nagpur, Kalan-Dombivli, Thane, Aurangabad, Nashik, Amravati, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.
--The Centre’s first list of 20 cities for priority funding under the scheme included two from Maharashtra (Pune and Solapur). The second list of 13 cities released in May this year did not contain any names from Maharashtra, while the third list of 27 more cities to get the Centre’s funding, released on Tuesday, included five from the state – Nagpur, Kalyan-Dombivli, Thane, Aurangabad, Nashik.
--Under the scheme, the Union government will grant Rs 500 crore over five years to selected cities for implementation of their smart city plans. The state governments and the urban local bodies are to pitch in Rs 250 crore each over five years.
--The ten proposals from Maharashtra included plans of about Rs 30,000 crore. Navi Mumbai’s plan was the most expensive, requiring an outlay of Rs 8,500 crore, while Mumbai’s plan was among the most unambitious, pegged at Rs 1,018 crore.
Professor Nilofar Khan, who has 30 years of teaching experience, has been appointed as the first woman vice-chancellor of the University of Kashmir, officials said on Thursday. The order of appointment was issued by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha in his capacity of being the chancellor of the university. She will be replacing Professor Talat Ahmad, who completed his second tenure as the V-C of the university which began in August 2018.
Given the spike in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and threats issued by various terror outfits, the upcoming annual Amarnath Yatra starting June 30 to the cave shrine at 13,000ft in south Kashmir is going to be a litmus test for the government. One of the most revered Hindu pilgrimages in India, the yatra is resuming after two years.
Jammu divisional commissioner Ramesh Kumar along with additional director general of police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh, handed over an appointment letter and ex gratia to the family of Rahul Bhat, a migrant Kashmiri Pandit government employee who was gunned down in the Valley recently. A financial assistance of ₹5 lakh was also handed over to the family. Jammu deputy commissioner Avny Lavasa had also accompanied Kumar.
Following the conviction of banned JKLF chief Yasin Malik by a Delhi court in a terror funding case on Thursday, wife of late Squadron Leader Ravi Khanna, Shalini Khanna, said she was confident of getting justice for Yasin Malik. “Bad deeds lead to bad outcomes,” said the 70-year-old, while demanding Malik be sent to the gallows. Squadron leader Khanna was shot 27 times with an AK assault rifle.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday claimed to have solved the Baramulla grenade attack case on a liquor shop with the arrest of four Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists and a terror associate. The police identified the four militants as Shahid Showkat Bala, Safeer Ahmad Mir, Moh Maroof Saleh and Faisal Shaban Gojri, all residents of Baramulla while their associate Hatif Ahmad Sofi was from Arampora.