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Smart city project: A year on, public bicycle sharing system in Chandigarh remains a non-starter

Of the 70 smart city projects envisaged for Chandigarh, only six have been completed so far.

punjab Updated: Apr 23, 2018 12:10 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Smart city project,Chandigarh,UT administration

More than a year after the idea of public bicycle sharing system in Chandigarh was floated as part of the Smart City project, it continues to remain a non-starter.

The project hit a roadblock in November last year, after the UT administration had raised objections on the public bicycle sharing system, for which the MC had already invited bids through a request for proposal (RFP). The bone of contention was the size of the stations for the sharing point, besides the fact that the MC had allowed the project for a period of 11 years, while under the Clause 3 of the Advertisement Control Order, a project could only be allowed for a maximum of five years. Five months have passed since the objections were raised, but so far the MC has failed to clear it.

Once the objections are removed, the project will be moved to the board of directors of Chandigarh Smart City Limited for approval, following which a fresh request for proposal (RFP) will be invited, which will take at least three more months.

Journey so far
  • In February last year, the MC invited expression of interest for the project, initially for 10,000 cycles
  • In March, as many as 10 companies evinced interest
  • In April, seven companies gave their presentations, but the project did not materialise over terms and conditions
  • In August, Chandigarh Smart City Limited (CSCL) reduced the bicycles to 5,000
  • In September, the MC invited fresh request for proposal (RFP) for the project; and two companies participated in October
  • In November, UT raised objections and asked the MC to remove those objections

MC joint commissioner-cum-nodal officer of Chandigarh Smart City Limited, Tejdeep Singh Saini said, “We are in the final stage of removing the objections and once this is done, it will be sent to the board of directors for approval. The meeting of the board of directors has not been fixed yet.”

Another senior official of the Smart City Limited said that since one of directors will not be in city for at least a month, the meeting cannot be held before June.

Smart city projects draw a blank

Of the 70 projects envisaged, only six have been completed so far. As part of the smart city initiative, the administration had scripted an elaborate five-year plan to rejuvenate the city centre. One of the highlights was to build an Urban Park behind Neelam Theatre, at a cost of ₹10 crore, where concerts could also be organised. It was also to have food courts and rooms for seating. But the work on this project is yet to start. The other major projects that are yet to get out of the drawing-board stage, include beautification of Sector 17 and the bicycle-sharing system. As the per record, the construction work on all these projects was to start in October 2017. However, the projects have been delayed by at least five months.

Funds from Centre unspent

In what is an embarrassment for a city on the path to becoming smart, the Centre has not allocated a penny to Chandigarh this year for implementing Smart City projects as almost the entire Rs 300 crore allocated previously remains unspent; only Rs 3 crore was spent last year. The city has drawn a blank under the head, even as for the country, the Centre has increased allocation for Smart Cities by 54% to Rs 6,169 crore.

What’s the public bicycle sharing system

The public bicycle sharing system is a move under the Smart City project; wherein authorities plan to buy 5,000 bicycles fitted with GPRS tracking system for 600 busy points in the city. A control room will monitor the movement. You can take a bicycle from one point and drop it at the sharing point close to your destination. Sharing points will be in Sector 17, at the Panjab University, Sukhna Lake, Rose Garden, PGIMER, the bus stands and other places.

Mysuru was the first city to introduce such a sharing service — popular in some European countries — in February last year.

First Published: Apr 23, 2018 12:08 IST