In a major setback to the efforts of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to make it to the list of top probable smart cities in the first phase, the ruling NCP-Congress, along with MNS, have postponed the decision on the Smart City Plan (SCP) till January 4. The deadline to submit the plan being on December 15, this has severely hampered the chances of the city to make it in the first phase.
PMC is the third civic body in the state, after Nasik and Navi Mumbai municipal corporations, which has been unable to convince its elected representatives for its smart city plan.
Meanwhile, the municipal commissioner has decided to try and convince the elected representatives to approve the plan before the deadline, but he said he would have to send it without their consent if they fail to do so.
The setback to the PMC plan came during its special general body meeting held on Wednesday to take a decision on SCP so that it could be submitted to the union government before the December 15 deadline.
NCP and Congress, with the support of MNS, proposed to adjourn the meeting till January 4 while expressing apprehension about setting up of a special purpose vehicle for implementation of the smart city plan and likely financial burden on citizens to raise fund for it. BJP and Shiv Sena opposed the decision to postpone the meeting saying it would lead to loss to the development of the city.
Congress, NCP and MNS also did not allow Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar to speak or make a presentation on the SCP saying they did not want to listen to him.
“The PMC administration along with various other organisations and citizens, made a lot of efforts to prepare the SCP. PMC has been among the top civic bodies that had implemented the process effectively and all the efforts would go waste if PMC fails to make it in the first phase,” Kumar said after the meeting.
The general body decision to postpone the proposal till January 4 would weaken the case of PMC in the competition for the top slot in smart city list, Kumar said. “The smart city project is in the interest of the city. The submission of SCP without the consent of general body would be incomplete, so I wanted a nod for it. I don’t want to give up after putting so much efforts into it till this stage. There are six more days left to submit the proposal. So, I would try and convince the elected representatives to approve it before the deadline,” he said.
“The PMC administration would submit the SCP to the union government even if it’s not approved in general body. It will be with the union government to take a decision on it for considering the PMC in the first phase,” Kumar said.
The municipal commissioner said PMC’s efforts on the smart city plan had been appreciated by all and the union government had even praised the initiative of citizen participation for it. “The union government is likely to urge other civic bodies to follow the same procedure while some research organisations are doing a case study of the process of PMC for smart city,” Kumar said.
He refuted the charge that sufficient time was not given to elected representatives to study the SCP. “It was tabled in the standing committee on December 2. Only details of SPV was prepared in the last few days. If there were objections to the framework of SPV, it could have been changed by the general body,” Kumar said.
“The fears of PMC losing some powers to SPV are not true as the SPV would work on the framework approved by the general body and the PMC had already identified the source of raising funds for the implementation of project with least burden on citizens,” he said. “I was not allowed to speak to clarify all the doubts.”
Kumar has now written a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, apprising him of the developments while urging the state government to use its powers under the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, to direct the PMC general body to take a decision by December 14.
Mayor Dattatraya Dhankawade said the PMC had not rejected the proposal of SCP, but would be taking it up for discussion on January 4. “The elected representatives wanted more time to study the SCP before taking a stand on it,” he said.
BJP leader Ganesh Bidkar said the NCP, Congress and MNS made the smart city proposal a political issue. “If they wanted time, they could have postponed the meeting for two days and hold a discussion after studying it. We asked them to hold meeting before December 15, but they deliberately postponed it to January 4,” he said.
Bidkar said the failure of the ruling NCP-Congress to approve the SCP today would make the city suffer and the citizens should question the ruling parties for the loss.