Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Aug 3:
With demands for inclusion of Odisha’s Millennium City in the Smart City scheme by different organizations getting shriller by the day, the Cuttack Banchao Andalon Committee and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have called for a 12- hour Cuttack bandh on Monday.
The committee has decided to include schools, colleges, transport, commercial establishments etc. under the scope of the bandh call.
Earlier, lawyers in Cuttack city had boycotted court proceedings on the issue and representatives of the High Court Bar Association and six other associations on Thursday met state chief secretary G C Pati at the state secretariat to press their demands for inclusion of the Millennium City in the Smart City scheme.
Pati had assured the lawyers that the government would write to Centre afresh making a case for Cuttack city to be included in the scheme.
The lawyers had opined that Cuttack is a historic city and is rich in cultural and traditional heritage. It is the old capital of the state. It is unjust to compare it with newly formed cities. So, Cuttack city should be included as the forerunner in the list of Smart Cities in the state proposed to the Centre. As an alternative, Cuttack-Bhubaneswar should be considered as Twin City and accordingly proposed to the Centre.
Besides, the Congress had also staged an agitation and submitted a memorandum to the collector urging the administration to take adequate steps for inclusion of the historic city in the scheme.
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.
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 in June, 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.