UT officials, residents shocked as Chandigarh misses smart city bus

In a surprising and shocking development, City Beautiful, one of the country’s cleanest city, is not among the 20 cities chosen for the prestigious smart city project by the Union government.

punjab Updated: Jan 29, 2016 11:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Chandigarh,smart city,Danish Ashraf
UT officials, residents were left shocked over city not being included in the first list of smart cities.(Keshav Singh/HT File Photo)

In a surprising and shocking development, City Beautiful, one of the country’s cleanest city, is not among the 20 cities chosen for the prestigious smart city project by the Union government.

The administration will resend its nomination for the project in April. However, administration officials say even if they have missed the smart city bus this time, they will continue with their initiative to make the city smart.

Sources said Chandigarh lost by 0.27% in the competition and was at the 22nd or 23rd spot.

UT sub-divisional magistrate Danish Ashraf, who is also the nodal officer for the smart city, said: “We had put in our best and never expected that we will not figure in the top 20 list of smart cities. Our efforts will not go waste. We followed all norms for city’s inclusion in the project. The administration and city residents had contributed a lot for preparing the smart city proposal.”

He said before sending the proposal to the Union government, they had held debates, citizen engagement programmes, interdepartment contribution, review of the final proposal and feedback from the city residents. Even the consultant to provide technical assistance was changed. The administration had spent over Rs 1 crore for preparing the smart city proposal,” he added.

In December last year, the administration had sent a detailed proposal to the Union government after being selected among the 98 cities for the smart city project. The administration was confident that the city would make it to the first list of 20 cities to be selected for the project. The recent visit of French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made the administration more confident that Chandigarh would be included in the first list of smart cities.

France-UT MoU the hope

The UT administration officials are now relying on the memorandum signed between the French government and the UT. SDM Danish Ashraf said: “We will get funds from France for developing the city.”

Admn’s claims

The UT administration claims that even as Chandigarh has not been included in the first list of smart cities, the ministry of urban development has conveyed that the administration’s proposal has been accepted. The UT administration will start receiving the grant from the Centre for implementation of the smart city proposal from April 2016. The video-conferencing of the UT administration officials with the cabinet secretary, government of India, and secretary, ministry of urban development, will be held on January 29. The administration will start taking steps in this regard so the grant received from the Centre is utilised.

Why city failed to make the cut

* Despite directions from the Union government to generate funds, the administration and the municipal corporation failed to increase income by increasing water tariff and imposing taxes.

* The city didn’t had a political leverage and there was nobody in the government to take up the city’s case strongly Besides, the UT administration’s proposal may have failed to impress the Union ministry of urban development.

What next

Failed but not dejected, nodal officer for smart city Danish Ashraf said the administration would resend its nomination for inclusion in the smart city project to the Centre. The UT will present its case again and will also seek technical assistance from France. The transit oriented development planned on Vikas Marg as part of the smart city project would be undertaken.

First Published: Jan 29, 2016 11:15 IST