The Smart City project launch would soon complete three years and all eyes are on Pune that had ranked second in the contest by Union government. First independent Chief Executive Officer of the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL), Rajendra Jagtap, speaks to The Indian Express about the completion of his one year as CEO.
What is the current status of the proposed projects? How long will it take for the developments to be visible?
The project implementations are at different stages. Of the total 58 projects planned under the Smart City project, 11 have been completed, work is underway on 19, tenders on appointment of agencies have been processed for nine, DPR is being prepared for 13, and process has been initiated for six projects.
More than 50 per cent of the main plan prepared in the initial stages has been implemented. The projects are being implemented on a pilot basis in the Aundh-Baner-Balewadi area development category. Those with good results are being replicated, and changes would soon be visible. Pune is way ahead of other cities in terms of implementation of the projects. The performance will only get better.
Which of the projects have a pan-city approach?
A few of the successful projects from the Aundh-Baner-Balewadi area have been replicated in other parts of Pune city. An urban street design has been prepared for JM Road and FC Road, which would be extended to other areas… Other projects to be replicated include public bicycle sharing, 24×7 water supply, streetlight controlling system, lighthouse project for upliftment of poor by skill training, traffic management system for PMPML, wifi, theme-based placemaking and street furniture.
How do you respond to the complaints from residents of Aundh-Baner-Balewadi regarding lack of implementation in the area?
The development of Bremen Chowk to Parihar Chowk stretch, which was being carried out as per the urban street design plan, has been extended by 26 km. The plan is to cover 90 per cent of the roads in the area under the Smart City project. The work on four placemaking sites on different themes is completed and would be extended to 20 locations. Once the street furniture that includes electronic display system is in place, residents will see a major change.
What is the reason behind the slow pace of implementation of some of the projects?
The delay is mainly due to the slow response from Pune municipal administration. The Smart City project is operating from a small place and and with a smaller manpower. The civic body has not yet given a committed office space. We are planning to set up an office at a leased location.
Is the PMC not cooperating in implementation of the projects?
The PMC has not been very co-operative. Our proposal for allotment of a civic plot for the insfrastructure development project has not been approved yet. The civic body has a lot of amenity spaces within its limits, but it is not willing to part with them for the Smart City project. We had also proposed to take care of the completion of the pending civic projects in Aundh-Baner-Balewadi area but it was turned down.
Has the Union government set a deadline for completion of projects under the Smart City Mission? Where does Pune stand?
There is a lot of pressure to speed up work and deliver results. Earlier, the procedure was to submit performance report in three months. Now it is done on a weekly basis.
Has there been an improvement in revenue generation, which was one of the aims of the Smart City Mission?
The preliminary report has suggested increasing revenue collection from property tax, advertisements and viability gap funding by land monetisation. The PMC was responsible for ensuring its effective implementation. We have also implemented projects such as road asset management system and 3D mapping of the city for the purpose.
What is the controversy related to digital display boards installed under the Smart City project?
A notice was issued to the PSCDCL, stating that advertisement poles were installed on city roads without seeking permission. We have submitted all the documents related to the permissions received from PMC. Another allegation that commercial advertisements were being placed on the digital poles, is false. Besides, though no commercial advertisement has yet been run on the poles, there is no restriction on doing that. The agency has been permitted to run private ads on the Smart City boards, as that would help improve revenue generation.
What is the status of the proposed first transport hub in Balewadi?
It is a very ambitious mega project that would have all public transport facilities at one location and would run from a commercial building with an office space and malls. The PMC has to hand over the project to PSCDCL for development. The project would soon be replicated on other areas within PMC limits that have octroi posts.