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Cradle of banks to a smart city...
According to the government site on Smart City, a smart city is one, which has the necessary infrastructure for its residents to lead enjoyable life, clean and sustainable environment through the application of ‘smart’ solutions.

Key features of a Smart City 

 

  • Adequate Water Supply 
  • Assured Electricity Supply 
  • Sanitation, including Solid Waste Management 
  • Efficient Urban Mobility and Public Transport 
  • Affordable housing, especially for the poor 
  • Robust IT connectivity and digitalisation 
  • Good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation 
  • Sustainable Environment 
  • Safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly and 
  • Health and Education.

 

As of June, 60 cities out of proposed 100 have been selected to be developed as smart cities. Of these, only in 20 cities smart city projects have been started. One of the reasons for this delay is the complex tendering process. 

Six cities in Karnataka have won the competition to be awarded the chance to be developed as smart cities. Mangaluru is one such city. 

Under the smart city initiative, central government gives Rs 500 crore during five years, which is matched by the state governments. The remaining amount has to be raised by the city through taxes or other revenue streams or from private sources as loans. 

One of the innovative strategies of the smart city has been the creation of a Special Planning Vehicle (SPV), in each city to operationalise the mission at the local level. 

Mangaluru was successful in getting 11,196 suggestions from the public during the first round of consultation and around 10,000 during the second. Though there was public participation in the initial stage to submit the nomination, once the bid was won there has not been any significant activity to inform the public to keep them updated. Two committees of people’s representatives have been formed--one of the technocrats and the other of prominent people, it is not clear what role these committees had been able to play. 

Activists from Mangaluru involved in consumer and civic issues should come together to form an audit committee to ensure no funds spent by Mangaluru Smart City (MSC) project will be misused. It has become customary in many cities in Karnataka for elected representatives to get 15 to 20 per cent commission from the contractors whenever projects are taken up in their constituencies. This abominable practice, though widely known, has not been attacked by any activist or media. Though SPV is supposed to get over these problems, it will be useful to have an independent and credible organisation to monitor the expenditures. This citizen audit committee will set a model for the rest of India if activists can take interest as suggested. 

MSC SPV should try to involve the students of engineering and management colleges to get involved in developing suggestions for the implementation and even to monitor the progress of the project. They should go to these colleges and make a presentation to get them involved. Mangaluru has many such reputed colleges and SPV should take maximum benefit of the expertise available in these institutes. 

The financial plan submitted by Mangaluru was for Rs 2000 crore. 

Smart city development may give the impression that such a mission can result in improving the whole town to have fully developed necessary facilities and sustainable environment. However, even a cursory look at the various components of 

Mangaluru Smart City shows that only a small area of the city will be developed as a showpiece. Pan City projects will undoubtedly add to the development of the city, but do not improve water supply, waste handling, sewage treatment, power supply, mobility, etc. 

A smart city is a good and praiseworthy initiative. However, a lot more needs to be done to achieve the objective of developing Mangaluru as a smart city.  

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