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A Parliamentary Committee has noted contrasting differences in the completion of targets in different cities under the flagship 'Smart City Mission' (SCM). The panel has found that 68 Smart Cities have not achieved their physical targets under the Mission by the end of January, 2023.

On one hand, 32 Smart Cities have completed more than the number of projects planned for the implementation under SCM and in some cases even four times more than the actual target. On the other hand, remaining 68 Smart Cities are yet to meet the project completion targets wherein the performance of some cities is quite dismal.

"Therefore, the total number of completed projects gives a misleading picture because it also takes into account the excess projects accomplished by 32 performing Smart Cities.

"The Committee is of the opinion that if the number of 'excess projects' is removed from the total completed projects then the actual number of projects completed under 36 the Mission would be far less than projected as on 31.01.2023," said the Demands for Grants report (2023-24) by the Standing committee on Housing and urban Affairs.

The panel in the report observed that the Mission period has been extended till June, 2023 to complete these projects and the Ministry has submitted before the Committee that all the Smart Cities are expected to complete their projects within the stipulated time.

The Committee while acknowledging the multiple challenges on-ground, including Covid-19 pandemic scenario, multi-sectoral projects, local challenges related to land, labour etc., stressed that the Ministry should rigorously pursue with the lagging Smart Cities. And, ensure that both the physical and financial targets are actually achieved within the extended time period, which is June, 2023 and no further extension of time should be granted without a detailed assessment and addressing of reasons leading to such inordinate delay in completion of these projects.

The Parliamentary Committee further noted that 100 Smart Cities have proposed projects worth Rs 2,05,018 crore under the Mission. Out of which 7,821 projects worth Rs 1,81,349 crore have been taken up. So far, 5343 projects worth Rs 1,00,450 crore could be completed.

The Committee in the report noted that the last round of selection under the Smart City Mission was made in January 2018 and hence the stipulated period of five years has been completed.

The Smart Cities Mission was launched on June 25, 2015. The objective of the scheme is to promote cities that provide core infrastructure, clean and sustainable environment and give a decent quality of life to their citizens through the application of 'smart solutions'.

As regards financial allocation released by the Ministry, it has been informed that out of overall financial support to the Mission, that is, Rs 48,000 crore, Smart Cities Mission has already released Rs 36,561 crore, out of which Rs 33,012 crore (90 per cent of total released) have been utilized by the smart cities.

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Quelle/Source: Business Standard, 09.04.2023

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