Hyderabad: The Central government appears to have left Telangana to fend for itself, giving little with regard to development of ‘Smart Cities’ in the country’s youngest State.
Though two cities – Warangal and Karimnagar – were listed among 99 Smart Cities in the country, the Centre has released only Rs 96 crore, less than one per cent of its nation-wide expenditure of Rs 9,940 crore so far.
Interestingly, a Central assistance of Rs 588 crore was released to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, where four cities were selected for development under the Mission. But when it comes to Telangana, the Centre has been playing coy with respect to releasing funds under Smart Cities Mission, despite repeated pleas for financial assistance from the State.
Under the Smart Cities Mission, the Centre provides about Rs 500 crore to each city. About Rs 200 crore fund is released in the first year of its selection, followed by Rs 100 crore over the next three years. While Warangal made it to the Smart Cities list in May 2016, Karimnagar secured a spot in the June 2017 list.
According to officials, only around Rs 94 crore has been released for Greater Warangal and Rs 2 crore for Karimnagar so far since the launch of the Smart Cities Mission in June 2015. “Nearly Rs 2,750 crore are proposed to be spent to develop Warangal as part of the Smart City Mission, while the designs are being prepared for development of Karimnagar as a Smart City,” an official said.
In Warangal, the officials have proposed development projects under the Mission including smart roads, Kakatiya Musical garden, Bhadrakali lake rejuvenation, heritage walk, smart library, improvement of 1,000 pillar temple precinct, Padmakshi temple, rain water harvesting structures and storm water drainages among others.
Manair Riverfront development, smart roads, archeological museum, bus terminal, tourist information centre, integrated command control room and other schemes have been proposed in Karimnagar as part of the Mission. Further, a consultant Aarvee Associates is preparing the designs for underground drainage, cable network, solar route map, multi-level parking, green belt, and 24×7 water supply etc. “After reassessment of the plan by various departments, the tenders process will begin,” officials said.
Recently, Additional Secretary to Union Ministry of Urban Development and Director of National Mission on Smart Cities, Sameer Sharma visited both the cities and reviewed projects being implemented as part of the Smart City Mission. He expressed satisfaction over development of these cities and asked officials to expedite execution of works proposed.
In response to similar praise from the members of 15th Finance Commission on implementation of Kaleshwaram project and Mission Bhagiratha, Municipal Administration Minister KT Rama Rao reacted sharply and remarked that mere lip sympathy was not expected from the Centre for a performing State like Telangana. He wanted the Centre to provide adequate funds for the State projects.