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Smartening up smart city projects in Punjab

So far, smart city projects in the state have been largely restricted to paper; there are now indications that these projects might finally start and results are visible

punjab Updated: Jan 20, 2018 17:08 IST
Munieshwer A Sagar
Ludhiana is ahead in terms of planning, selection and project implementation.
Ludhiana is ahead in terms of planning, selection and project implementation.(HT FILE)

The smart city project in Punjab has been slow to take-off, plagued by slow grinding funding support from the state government, delay in appointment of project management consultants (PMC) and full-time chief executive officers and tepid response from private sector contractors for execution of projects.

It, however, seems that action under the project is finally picking up pace in the state.

Under the smart city project, three cities in the state – Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar were selected in a nation-wide selection process.

Ludhiana is ahead in terms of planning, selection and implementation of projects. Smart city project in the city was first to get a full-time chief executive officer and project management consultants (PMC). In Amritsar, while implementation of some projects has started, most projects remain in the planning stage.

In Jalandhar, a list of projects identified for the city has been formulated and these are being checked for implementation and financial viability. In Amritsar and Jalandhar, PMC — comprising sectoral experts — were mobilised earlier this month. These were appointed in November last year, a delay of nearly a year in appointment after the smart city project were started in these cities.

There are two components under the smart city project for each city – area based development and pan-city development. The funds contributions are shared by the state and central governments.

LUDHIANA SMART CITY

At present, around 25 projects have been proposed for the city, out which, detailed project reports (DPR) have been prepared for more than 50% of projects, amounting to more than ₹650 crore and these projects are expected to be awarded by March 31, said a local government department official who didn’t want to be named.

In Ludhiana city, under the pan-city component, phase 1 of installation of rooftop solar panels on existing buildings has started. For execution of some projects tendered were floated inviting bids for works. But, after failing to get positive response, re-tendering will be done in such projects in near future. Projects in which re-tendering will be done include installation of way-finding and signage (digital and analogue), different types of toilets across the city comprising pre-fabricated modular, mobile public toilets, DUAC (Delhi Urban Art Commission) toilets and masonry toilets.

The LED street lighting installation project is in the final stages of approval of competent authority before its execution starts.

Project DPR of construction and demolition waste management, carcass utilisation plant, integrated central common and control centre and smart poles have been prepared and are being vetted before final approvals.

Other project proposals under the pan-city component include dedicated cycle track in selected industrial area, smart poles and citizen collaboration platform.

Under the ABD component, projects awaiting final approval of the competent authority include smart water supply scheme, replacement and rehabilitation of sewerage network, construction of storm water network, underground laying of electrical cables and conversion of Malhar Road to smart road including complete streets. Retrofiting of Sarabha Nagar market, conversion of Malhar, Ghumar, National, Rotary Club, and Pakhowal roads to smart roads; a road over bridge for Pakhowal Railway crossing and multi-level parking for the Feroze Gandhi market are some of other projects proposed under the ABD component in Ludhiana.

AMRITSAR SMART CITY

In Amritsar, two projects are already under execution. Under the pan-city component, work on augmenting BRTS (bus rapid transport system) corridor in the city and providing piped gas network for household and commercial usage is under execution. A proposal for provisioning of e-mobility solutions for decreasing vehicular traffic has been submitted to the department of heavy industries, government of India. Feasibility surveys for smart roads, solar roof tops at public facilitation centres and command and control centre for e-governance are in progress.

Under the ABD component for the city, DPR are being prepared for re-development of parks and development of parking lots. Also planned are cashless transaction facilities and provision for Wi-Fi facility around the Darbar Sahib for pilgrims for which feasibility is being examined on public private partnership (PPP) model.

JALANDHAR SMART CITY

In Jalandhar, some of the pan-city component identified for development include buying buses worth around ₹55 crore, increasing depot and bus shelters. Setting up of an intelligent transportation system (ITS) and an advance traffic control system (ATCS) infrastructure is also proposed. For improving public safety, an integrated technology solution for public utility and public safety has been proposed, it comprises of installation of cameras, servers and command and control room, and IT support for public utilities. Installation of LED street lights is also part of the pan-city projects proposals so far.

Under the ABD component in the city, Burlton Park Area retrofitting, which comprises water, power and utility ducting, and gas distribution is proposed. Traffic circulation, pedestrian facilities and roof top solar power are some of the other proposals identified under ABD Jalandhar.

Also proposed is the re-development of Burlton Park Sports Hub comprising international swimming pool, multi-level car parking, area and a hotel.

SMART CITY AND REALTY

So far, the smart city project has failed to make an impression on the real estate sector. There were positive expectations at the time of announcement of the project. But, after nearly one year of setting up of the smart city project in three Punjab cities, lack of visible ground level change has fueled skepticism about the project.

Vicky Sharma, 38, Veer Group director, based in Amritsar, says, “There were strong expectations that infusion of large funds in the development of modern and technological driven infrastructure in the city will benefit the real estate sector immensely. But, so far this has not happened because very little has been actually done. If and when government starts actually making a difference under the project, the realty sector will certainly benefit from it.”

Similar experience and views are shared by the realty stakeholders in other two cities. In Ludhiana, Deepak Badyal, 47, president of Ludhiana Realtors Association, says, “They have done nothing remarkable under the smart city project in the city, which can improve the sentiment in the real estate market or at least build-up expectation of the different realty stakeholders. All we have seen so far is the installation of LED lights. When we ask the government officials why there is such a slow progress under the scheme, we get standard answer that lack of adequate funding from the state is slowing down the project progression.”