A whopping Rs 4,932.5 crore of the proposed total investment of Rs 5,654.89 crore under the Area Based Development (ABD) of Smart City Mission is to be spent on Sector 43, a 1 square kilometre of Chandigarh’s total area of 114 sq km.Sector 43 has a population of about 12,000 people, but 87.2 per cent of the total funds would be spent on this sector, under the ABD.
Under the Smart City Mission, a total estimated cost of Rs 5,856.75 crore has been allocated both for ABD and Pan City proposal. However, 96.55 per cent of the funds have been allocated only under ABD in Chandigarh and the Pan City proposal would see an investment of just Rs 201.86 crores. Under the Pan City component, a city will look at technology for e-government applications, city surveillance, utility management and intelligent transport.
Under ABD, four adjoining sectors, 17, 22, 35 and 43, would be made smart on pilot basis with a combination of IT and infrastructure projects. Investment of Rs 722 crore would be made on 24×7 water supply, power, transportation in all these four sectors, but urban development at Sector 43 will take the lion’s share of Rs 4,932 crore.
Officials of the UT administration said Chandigarh is already developed and they had to choose an underdeveloped sector. And, that’s why, they have allocated this amount for Sector 43’s urban development.
Joint Commissioner Manoj Khatri, who is handling the Smart City work, said, “Chandigarh is already developed. So, we can just enhance the existing infrastructure. And, that is why there was a need to select a sector which is comparatively underdeveloped. It will be developed as a commercial hub. So, what if this amount is being spent there?”
Khatri further stated that as per the Smart City Mission, they would be carrying out this work in PPP mode where private players would be roped in to make investments.
At Sector 43, an amount of Rs 1,255.88 crore has been allocated for office space (Grade A) while Rs 1,312.45 crore would be invested for hotels. An amount of Rs 120.02 crore has been allocated for an exhibition centre whereas Rs 326.92 crore would be invested in a convention centre. For retail area, Rs 779.71 crore have been allocated, Rs 320.83 crore would be spent on residential affordable housing and Rs 293.9 crore for iconic area. For hostel facility, an investment of Rs 121.39 crores would be made while for integrated broadway and entertainment, Rs 285.74 crore woud be there. Basic infrastructure would form just Rs 40.61 crores while Rs 75.05 crore would be invested in an art gallery.
As far as the other expenses under ABD are concerned, for water supply and augmentation, Rs 30.02 crore would be spent. For power, which would have the component of underground power cabling as well, Rs 209.92 crore has been earmarked. Under the head of transport, an amount of Rs 250.7 crore has been allocated while for solid waste management, Rs 112.7 crore would be invested.Baljinder Bittu, chairman, Federation of Sectors Welfare Association of Chandigarh, said it seemed that the Smart City project was meant only for Sector 43.
“The southern sectors are almost underdeveloped. Because Chandigarh is a small area, we heard that there were talks of having 24×7 water supply and other facilities in all the sectors instead of these four sectors, but I don’t think it materialised. We don’t have basic infrastructure of water and power where they should invest the most rather than develop a commercial hub which 17 and 35 already are,” Bittu said, adding, “If they could invest Rs 50 to 100 crores also in each sector, that would have given basic infrastructure to many people. What is the use of spending nearly Rs 5,000 crores on hotels, exhibition centres and shops in just one sector.”