A day after the Centre listed Pune as number two among the 20 cities to be developed as smart cities, Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Friday reminded the city’s civic body that they would have to strictly adhere to the guidelines laid down under the Smart City Mission and that if they refuse to toe the line, they will have to opt out of the project.
Naidu’s comment drew criticism from local units of political parties, who slammed the minister for making such a remark. Naidu had said to reporters, “The Centre has provided guidelines and set parameters. Those who don’t agree to the guidelines can stay out. There is no pressure on anyone.”
The civic bodies and the state governments have been informed of the guidelines for the formation of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the smart city in advance, he said, adding that there is an unnecessary debate going on regarding the civic bodies losing its autonomy in the SPV process.
“The citizens will have to pay user charges to avail the facilities provided under the smart city project as there will be investment required to develop the facilities. The Centre will provide only Rs 500 crore in five years and the remaining will have to be raised by the respective civic body,” Naidu said.
Congress leader Arvind Shinde said the Union minister should not have made such a statement just as we embark on the project plan. “The citizens, elected representatives supported PMC in the contest and they have their reservations over following guidelines. So, the Centre should respect the citizens’ and elected representatives’ demands,” he said, adding the Congress will urge a public opinion poll on the same, as there would be opposition to it.
MNS leader Rajendra Wagaskar said the MNS had clarified in the very beginning itself that it would not compromise when it comes to losing the autonomy of the civic body and would continue to oppose the formation of SPV as per the Union government guidelines.
Meanwhile, municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar said that the Union Urban Development Secretary has urged the PMC to form SPV as soon as possible to get the funds, as disbursement would be in the name of SPV and not PMC. “We have started the process of forming the SPV and would do it as early as possible,” he said, adding a special general body meeting would be called for the purpose.
Also in another development, in a video conference, the Union secretary asked the mission cities to focus more on other means of resource mobilisation like convergence of various schemes, rationalisation of user charges.