The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Urban Development has criticised the central government’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission for its slow pace of implementation. In the report it has tabled, the panel has pointed out that of all the urban missions, Smart Cities has the lowest utilisation at 1.83% (Rs 182 crore) of the total Rs 9,943 crore released so far.
The report also points out that as against the promised Mission support of Rs 48,000 crore for 100 cities for five years, the total budget estimate until now is merely about Rs 15,000 crore, while the revised estimate in the last three years is only Rs 10,094 crore and the actual expenditure is even lower. It states, “The Committee, therefore, are perplexed about the actual progress made so far under the Mission at ground level.”
Of the 99 cities selected for the Mission that have identified 2.04 lakh crore worth of projects, 86 have got Special Purpose Vehicles in place and 64 have Project Monitoring Cells. The panel also pointed out that the “ground reality of work done under Smart Cities Mission (is) different than claimed by the Government” with issues such as shortage of town planners with Urban Local Bodies and complaints about poor work from local MPs putting a question mark over its implementation. It has expressed its concern about the mission achieving its set targets when even after three years since its launch, most of the identified projects are still at the stage of preparation of detailed project report.
While Smart Cities mission has the worst performance, the panel goes on to state that it is “unhappy” with the pace of all urban missions. “The Committee are concerned to find that as against a total fund allocation of Rs 48548.64 crore for the six flagship programmes viz. AMRUT, HRIDAY, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat, National Urban Livelihood Mission and PM Awas Yojna, the actual utilisation is only 21.6%, ie. Rs 7850.72 crore out of Rs 36194.39 crore released since the launch of these schemes.”
In case of AMRUT meant to provide for water supply, sewage, etc in cities, the utilisation on ground is 28 per cent of amount released by the Centre, Swachh Bharat fund utilisation is 38.01 per cent, in Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana it is 20.78 per cent. The report states, “The Committee are unhappy about the actual scenario with respect to the Flagship programmes of the Government and the trend of central funds not being utilised…”