The Urban Development Ministry is soon going to organise a workshop in order to guide the 23 cities that could not be a part of the first list announced by the Urban Development Minister, so that they can improve their smart city plans and submit the improved proposals by April 15 this year.
The step has been taken in the wake of the concerns being raised in some political quarters with no city from these 23 states and UTs, making it to the first list of 20 Smart Cities announced by the Union Urban Development Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, on January 28.
Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar had recently taken up the issue with Naidu and sought to know why any of the three cities proposed by the state, was not included in the first list.
Out of the 97 cities that were evaluated in the first round of the evaluation teams, Bhagalpur from Bihar was ranked 65 and Biharshariff ranked 91, while Muzaffarpur stood at 94.
Naidu explained the Bihar CM in detail about the selection procedure and objectives of the project, also adding that all the 100 cities included in the Smart City Mission will be covered over the next three years.
The gaps identified in the Smart City proposals of these cities ranged from deficiencies in self-assessment, disconnect between city vision and citizen’s aspirations not being reflected in the vision document, disconnect between strategic plan and implementation plan of respective cities, lack of clarity and consistency in the proposed action plans.
Apart from the inconsistencies in costs and resource mobilisation plans, weak convergence of different schemes of central and state governments, feasibility of implementation plans, not submitting the required solutions from respective urban local bodies supporting the claims made in the plans were also there in the proposals.
As per the Ministry, the deficiencies communicated in respect of Bhagalpur were that although the Smart city proposal came out with a vision of capitalising on the distinct assets of the city like its heritage, neat surroundings, home grown silk and industry, the action plan proposed was more about developing a few key streets of the town with pedestrianisation and greening the edges.
The evaluation team suggested that the primary focus of the strategic plan of Bhagalpur was more on improving basic infrastructure, which is related more to the ‘Atal Mission’ than on promoting smartness of the city as visualised under Smart City Mission.
Another thing to notice was that existing service levels in the town, particularly in respect of transportation, were also not indicated properly in the plan.
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