The Congress on Wednesday flayed the Centre for its execution of the Smart City project, reacting to a report in The Indian Express on how a major chunk of funding will go into small pockets of cities that are already developed.
In multiple tweets on Wednesday, Congress communications department head Randeep Surjewala stated, “Cat’s out of the bag. BJP’s ‘Smart City’ project is an ‘Unsmart’ scam for making money by real estate & tech players. BJP Govt plans to spend 1.05 Lakh Cr by the year 2020 to benefit only 2.7% of already developed area occupied by the city’s rich. Acche Din? Proves that BJP cares a fig leaf for the urban middle class or poor as it is a Govt of & for the the ‘Super Rich’. Discrimination galore!”
The Indian Express had analysed data from various official sources, which showed that 80 per cent of the total funds — Rs 1.31 lakh crore — will go into less than 3 per cent (246 sq km) of the total 9,065 sq km area of the mission cities.
Surjewala said: “Creation of urban infrastructure, including access to clean water, electricity, sewage and modern amenities, does not seem to be the goal of the Smart City Project.” He said the project should have been aimed at improving amenities for the urban poor and the middle class.
In its official statement, the Ministry of Urban Development said that this was only the the first phase of the mission where small areas would be developed as “lighthouse projects” that can eventually serve as a replicable model for the rest of the city.
Ajay Maken, a former Urban Development minister in the UPA government, accused the government of preparing the Smart City scheme “without proper homework”.