Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Smart City? First get the basics right

Preparations to nominate Gurgaon for the Centre's Smart City project began in earnest on July 4 as the MCG met residents for a brainstorming session even as an assessment of the city's performance on some of the eligibility parameters drew a disappointing picture.

Haryana can nominate two cities and the MCG is hopeful that Gurgaon will be among them. It, however, has barely 10 days to prepare and present its case as the nominations have to be submitted to the state government by July 15. The assessment of the city's performance on some of the key parameters that Smart City nominees need to fulfil was done by Gurgaon Governance Group, a residents' association, which shared its findings with TOI.

Among basic eligibility conditions in the 'Smart City Challenge' are progress under the Swachh Bharat programme, an information and grievance redress mechanism, e-newsletter, timely payment of salaries and auditing of accounts. The city, according to the residents' group's assessment, scores poorly on each of these counts.

Sanitation work and solid waste management are big areas of concern. Gurgaon's lone treatment plant in Bandhwari is not functional for close to two years now.

"It looks almost impossible for Gurgaon to qualify in the first stage," said councillor Nisha Singh, who attended the meeting on July 4. "The only reason why it might qualify, if it does, will be because of the fact that it generates maximum revenue in the entire state. But it's a pity that the MCG is incapable of even making sure that streetlights are in a working condition," she added.

MCG joint commissioner Vivek Kalia, who chaired the meeting, said more such meetings would be held, involving all 35 councillors. The MCG is also likely to have a House meeting this week in order to pass a resolution in this regard. "We want more citizen participation in this exercise. We are hoping to get selected in the first phase and notwithstanding the Smart City proposal, MCG is interested in executing plans with a sustainable vision for future of this city," he said.

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