Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 23:
Bhubaneswar has emerged as the front-runner with Steel City Rourkela at second place in the final analysis done by the Odisha government for the Smart City project based on the guidelines of the Union Government and the presentations made by municipal corporations.
While Bhubaneswar scored 70 percent, Rourkela scored 61.8 percent based on their presentations. The three other contenders – Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur – scored 60 percent each.
The State Government, however, will nominate all the five towns in the first phase and will submit a report to the Union Government byJuly 30. The decision was taken at a high level steering committee meeting in the secretariat today.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC), Brahmapur Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the newly formed Rourkela and Sambalpur Municipal Corporations had made their cases for being nominated as Smart Cities through proposals submitted to the Urban Development Department on July 16. The proposals highlighted the eligibility of the respective cities as per the criteria laid down by the Union Government to earn the Smart City tag.
“The scorecards of all municipalities were presented in front of the committee today. While Bhubaneswar scored 70 percent, Cuttack, Berhampur and Sambalpur scored 60 percent each and Rourkela scored 55 percent. However, based on the revised guidelines issued by the Union Government, which require cities that have not implemented reforms to be taken out of contention, the scores of Rourkela were revised to 61.8 percent. Given that four of the five cities are more or less in a tie for the second position, we are going to send all five name to the Union Government for consideration,” said Sisir Kumar Rath, Special Secretary of State Urban Development Department.
“We are all ready for the Smart City project. We have secured the first position in the state and are hopeful of getting a position in the first 20 cities of India that will earn this coveted status this year,” said a confident sounding BMC Mayor Anant Narayan Jena.
While most of the towns in Odisha don’t meet the Union Government criteria for the Smart City tag, the race has come down to the best among the worst. As per the operative guidelines for the Smart Cities mission released by the Prime Minister last month, states have to nominate the assigned number of cities and towns from each state based on four broad criteria and a total of 13 sub-criteria.
The four broad criteria are: existing service levels in city – 25 out of 100 points, institutional systems and capacities – 15 points, self-financing – 25 points and past track record and reforms carries 30 points.
The other criteria for evaluation of Smart City aspirants in phase-1 of the city selection include the percentage of increase over Census 2011 in providing household toilets – 10 points, imposing penalties for delay in service delivery – 5 points, audit of accounts up to 2012-13 carry 5 points, progress in respect of six urban local body level reforms – 10 points and percentage of JNNURM projects implemented carry 10 points.
In phase-1, the state governments will also have to evaluate the cities in their state based on these criteria and nominate the top performers as per the number of cities assigned to their state.
As per a recent notification from the Union Government, only the top 20 contenders will be taken up this year for funding for the first two years and given Rs 100 crores each.
The remaining cities will be funded over the next few years. If any of the cities from a state fails to meet the parameters, the state’s quota might be given away to another deserving state. The Union Government plans to spend Rs 48,000 crores over the next five years as central assistance to the Smart City project.