Going by the criteria for selecting cities for the smart cities’ initiative, Pune can be hopeful of making it to the list as it already has some of the conditions to qualify or has recently adopted a few necessary features that could ensure it’s in the running.
The first criteria is of the number of household sanitary latrines. The PMC community toilet and household toilet plan has been praised by the high court with directions to the state government on implementing the Pune model in other cities of the state. The online Grievance Redressal System with response being sent back to complainant has been started, but is yet to give effective results. Meanwhile, the PMC has decided to start a call centre and use social media to interact with citizens. The pre-condition of an e-newsletter has been met with the civic body coming out with a third edition of its monthly e-newsletter, which highlights its activities and performances.
The PMC is already working on ways to improve its website and adopt online services in the civic body for which it has decided to appoint at least six professional Information Technology experts. “The criteria of electronically delivered project-wise municipal budget expenditure information for the last two financial years on the website would be fulfilled in the plan to revamp the online facility of the PMC,” said a civic officer.
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The civic body had adopted a citizen charter and service manual defining the responsibility of each civic staff, however, it had not implemented it. Now, it has decided to be strict in implementing it from this month which would enable levying of compensatory penalty for delays in service delivery which is one of the criteria for its assessment.
The collection of internally generated revenue through taxes, fees and other charges in the past has been good and has shown a steady increase, the PMC have been claiming citing its credit rating.
“The PMC has again undertaken the credit rating of the civic body. This would give a clear picture of its performance to the authorities concerned,” said PMC chief accountant Ulka Kalaskar. This credit rating would also be helpful for the civic body to raise funds for development from the open market.
She said the PMC had a good track record in paying salaries to its employees. “There has been no scope for complaints on salary issues to civic staff,” Kalaskar said.
The PMC also has a good performance record in recovering establishment and maintenance cost of water supply, claims the civic administration. The contribution of internal revenue sources used for capital works during 2014-15 is substantial after the funds through the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) ceased, said a civic officer.
“There are a few projects under the JNNURM, which are in progress and a few projects could not start due to problems related to acquisition of land,” said a civic officer.
Amitav Mallik of the Pune International Centre said Pune should not wait for the approval of the union government to establish itself as a smart city. “The city has the capability to establish itself as a smart city. It should set targets and work towards making itself one of the smartest places in the country,” he said, adding the strategy to manage this rapid urbanisation should be based on innovative creation of green field townships.