Many hits and few misses as Pune Smart City mission ends in June

Considered to be key project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance government at the centre, Pune was among few cities initially chosen as a part of smart city mission. However, the centre has decided to wind it up by June 2023, even as various developmental works on ground are still incomplete or in some cases have not taken off either.

The key projects carried out under smart city mission in Pune include beautification and recreation related work, widening footpaths, building concrete roads, bicycle tracks and integrated command centre. However, projects such as building affordable housing never took off while many other projects are underway.

In keeping with the central government’s directions, the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL) has started handing over projects to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).

Sanjay Kolte, chief executive officer, Pune Smart city, said, “We are trying to finish on-going projects by June. If we check the list of projects, many are either executed or in pipeline. Some projects really changed the city. Now, as the mission is going to end, Central and state government will take decision about the functioning of smart city but the maintenance would be carried out by local bodies.”

The smart city mission was launched in 2015 as a dream project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Last year, the Centre announced in the Lok Sabha that the period of implementation of the smart city mission has been extended till June 2023, although new work will not be taken up. Recently Pune district guardian minister Chandrakant Patil asked PMC to complete all the smart city related project by March this year even if the deadline is June.

He reviewed the works such as conceptual i.e. theme-based activities implemented by smart city corporation, senior citizen park, science park, augmented reality park, maintenance of city trees, Wi-Fi facility, emergency call box, smart e-bus, street light, and state-of-the-art signal system (adaptive traffic management system). Also, discussions were held on matters of land acquisition and financial matters of the corporation. Commenting on the presentation given to Patil, Kolte had earlier said, “We gave a detailed presentation to the guardian minister about ongoing works and the deadline to complete the projects. As the mission is getting over, we are trying our best to complete maximum work before March 31, 2023.”

Like national level, over all project’s implementation of Smart city in Pune is around 60 per cent, said officials. Many projects like Intelligent Transport Management System (ITMS), affordable housing, e-rickshaws, smart parking system, road asset management system did not begin even as the mission is near completion.

Some projects are in progress and while many others are like public bicycle sharing system have been shut down.

Siddharth Shirole, BJP MLA from Shivajinagar and party spokesperson said, “The area which was selected under Smart city Aundh, Baner and Balewadi are part of my constituency. It is true that some projects have not been kick-started, but let us focus on some projects which worked very well. Smart roads concept attracts many pedestrians manily on JM, FC and Aundh area roads. Pune has highest number of e-buses. Command control room is also a good concept. As programme is going to end, we will try to execute remaining projects by PMC or state government. We ensure that the maintenance of existing infrastructure would be carried out by local bodies.”

Prashant Jagtap, former mayor and NCP city unit president, said, “When the smart city programme was launched, I had raised some doubts in front of the PM. This mission was completely a loot of citizens’ money and as centre is rolling it back, indirectly they have accepted that it is failed initiative.”

According to Jagtap, compared to Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) Smart city did not give anything substantial to the city. “Except doing some roads, nothing major happened. Even whatever projects they are claiming like water and river related, actually they are done by PMC and not by Smart city,” he said.

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