How to be smart- An article by Sama Khan

July 31, 2014

How to be smart

Sama Khan |
The smart cities project lacks consideration for small towns — class III to VI — that have populations lower than 49,999 and which account for 29 per cent of the total urban population.
The smart cities project lacks consideration for small towns — class III to VI — that have populations lower than 49,999 and which account for 29 per cent of the total urban population.


It is important to look at what went wrong with the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.


Sama Khan

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At A time when the contours of the new scheme for 100 smart cities are being decided, it is important to look at what went wrong with the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched in 2005 to improve infrastructure and governance in cities. With an overall investment of more than Rs 1 lakh crore, it covered both small towns and big cities. Amid all the criticism of the scheme, it is imperative to look at what went right and what didn’t.

One of the major drawbacks of the JNNURM was that it focused too much on big cities, directing fewer funds towards small and medium ones. In principle, it was meant to include all cities/ towns as per the 2001 Census. One of the things it did right was provide funds for class V and VI towns, which have populations of less than 10,000 people. Though their share in resources was dismal, it started a process that could have been taken forward in the future.

Another criticism was that access to JNNURM funds was linked to the achievement of mandatory reforms. Many feel this kind of incentivising did not work because a number of states and cities refused to comply. The Centre had no choice but to release funds after being given assurances on paper. However, many states did comply. As of January 2014, states like Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu had completed 19 out of the 23 reforms. Others like J&K, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal had completed 16. Bigger cities like Delhi did not perform as well and managed to complete only 15 reforms but still received the highest funding under the JNNURM.

The constant dependence of urban local bodies (ULBs) on state or parastatal agencies was another criticism. The JNNURM was supposed to encourage the role of ULBs in project preparation and implementation. However, in practice, the role of the ULB was reduced to that of quiet spectator in some cases and appointing agency in others. The funding pattern did encourage cost-sharing between the Centre, state and ULBs. However, in some cases, smaller towns were unable to contribute their share of the project cost.

Underutilisation of funds was another issue. Since the smaller ULBs are not financially independent, implementing reforms can be difficult, which leads to delays in the release of funds. Also, since a number of smaller ULBs lack capacity, the funds, even when released, were not enough to realise their potential or utilised optimally. This leads to a vicious cycle of poor performance stemming from poor capacity and lack of funds.

While the JNNURM is likely to be discontinued, the new concept of “smart cities” doesn’t hit the nail on the head either. As enunciated in the Union budget speech, the development of satellite towns and modernisation of existing mid-sized cities seems to be the plan. But this lacks consideration for small towns — class III to VI — that have populations lower than 49,999 and which account for 29 per cent of the total urban population. Many of these towns may not be near big cities but may actually possess enormous growth potential. Consider this, between 2001 and 2011, the population living in class I (1,00,000 and above) and class II (50,000-99,999) towns has increased by 27 and 20 per cent respectively. Whereas the population in class III (20,000-49,999) and class IV (10,000-19,999) towns has increased by 40 and 41 per cent respectively. Further, the population in class V (5,000-9,999) and class VI towns (less than 5,000) has doubled. This increase in small-town populations needs to be backed with investment to sustain urbanisation as it will contribute majorly to economic clusters.

The investment allocation for the 100 smart cities project, Rs 7,060 crore, is 6 per cent of the total estimated investment of the JNNURM. As of March 2012, the JNNURM covered 1,274 small towns and 65 big cities. In terms of both investment and coverage, the JNNURM was a much larger scheme. It had a definitive structure that got lost in implementation. What is needed is capacity building at the local level. Until ULBs are empowered to carry out their functions properly, no new scheme can achieve its objectives. When a large number of our cities struggle with even the delivery of basic services, creating technologically advanced cities may not be attacking the root of the problem. What is required is the equitable distribution of funds and resources to small and medium cities instead of identifying a few smart cities.

The writer is a research associate at the Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

[email protected]




Funds paucity puts BRTS project in a limbo

July 8, 2014


 JAIPUR: The Central government has refused to fund the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project, phase- 4 that was proposed to connect Ajmer Road and airport after extending the existing corridor. Also, funds sought for constructing sewerage and sewerage treatment plant (STP) under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) have not been sanctioned.
Sources in the department said, “There is not a complete refusal, the Centre has directed to send the revised detailed project report (DPR) of the projects. We will incorporate the details sought by the Centre. The sanctioning has been put on hold till that time.”In the previous government’s regime, considering the airport as an important point, the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) had decided to connect the BRTS route to Sanganer airport via B2 bypass. “The project was extended from Government Hostel to Amrit Nagar (New Sanganer Road) route to connect to the airport. The route is 13 km long and extension of 7km more will connect it with the Airport. The estimated cost of project was Rs 174 crore.”

Apart from this, the replacement work of the old and choked sewerage lines will also be halted. Sources claimed, “The sewerage line in the city area is over 40 years old and is in urgent need of repair or replacement. The project was not taken up due to paucity of funds.”

According to officials, the DPR to upgrade the sewerage lines in 12 cities, including Jaipur, was sent to the Central government. A senior official said, “The estimated population in the Walled City area is approximately 6 lakh, and the plan has been drawn accordingly. Pipelines of 200 mm width will be laid to curb the problem of overflowing. The project cost was nearly Rs 413 crore and we were expecting to receive half the amount under the scheme.”

A senior JMC official said, “The project is pending for over four years now. During this time, the project cost has also gone up by at least Rs 100 crore. Earlier, it was estimated at Rs 300 crore and a proposal was also sent to the state government for financial assistance. The state government later sent it to the Centre seeking funds under the JNNURM.”


More Buses Under JNNURM Scheme

October 25, 2013

While presenting the budget for year 2013-14, Mr. Chidambaram proposed to allot Rs 14873 crore for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). He made it known that the buses sanctioned during 2009 to 2012 which amounted to 14000 have helped a lot with the transport. As a result, most of the allotted money will result in buying of more buses. It is proposed to give the public transport a boost of 10000 new buses during 2013-14. These new buses are mostly to ply in the hilly areas providing better and timely service.

It is also seen that many of the cities have already started placing orders for low floor buses as well as semi-low floor buses. It is assumed that they were just waiting on centre govt to provide the funding. Through this announcement the govt hopes to connect more areas with JNNURM as buses are still the most preferred means of transport.

Road Transports and the State Transport Undertakings have started procuring the buses under the JNNURM scheme for improving the structure of transport.
Ever since the Delhi rape case, there has been a need for better and safer public transport.

It has been asked by the centre govt to increase the number of state run govt buses. With this announcement the major manufacturers of buses like Tata Motors Ltd, Volvo buses India Pvt. Ltd and Ashok Leyland can expect an increase their sale of buses.

It is expected that besides centre govt providing Rs 15000 crore for this scheme, the state governments will invest Rs 10000 crore by themselves too.



KSRTC patted by JnNURM for spending wisely

October 10, 2013

Aparajita Ray, TNN

 BANGALORE: KSRTC gets another boost. As it spent wisely the funds allocated for increasing fleet and creating amenities for commuters in the first phase of JnNURM, it got special fund allocated to make depots, workshops and intelligent transport system in the second phase.

KSRTC will get Rs 52.75 crore to construct 13 depots, NWKRTC has been sanctioned Rs 6 crore for one depot, NEKRTC has got Rs 20 crore for four depots and BMTC has got Rs 20 crore for five depots in the second phase of JnNURM.

Funds are also allocated for constructing workshops and assistance in implementation of ITS for BMTC.


Source -

State to get 400 more buses under JNNURM scheme

October 10, 2013



Mission will provide funds for support infrastructure too

The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) has sanctioned another 400 buses for the State to be operated under the JNNURM extended scheme.

For the State, it is a big disappointment, as it had pitched for 1,011 buses at an estimated cost of Rs.649.55 crore to extend the highly popular low-floor JNNURM buses to the remaining 12 districts. Since 2009, 313 buses have been sanctioned for the State. These ply in the State capital and Ernakulam under the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC).

The State is in receipt of the minutes of the Central Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) meeting, chaired by Union Urban Affairs Secretary Sudhir Krishna, in New Delhi on September 26 that cleared the 400 buses for the State, official sources told The Hindu. Among the 2,433 buses allotted to six States, Maharashtra has got the most (900), followed by Kerala and Rajasthan (286). The mission sanctioned 73 buses for Andhra Pradesh, and 50 each for Chhattisgarh and Puducherry.

In addition to the purchase of the buses, the mission will now provide funds to the State for support infrastructure such as bus depots as it wants to replicate the metro rail experience on buses to uplift the brand image of public transport by bus.

The Detailed Project Report for the procurement of the buses was made by Rajan Khobragade, Secretary (Urban Affairs), Local Self-government Department, and Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project Director U.V. Jose before Mr. Krishna.

The main hurdle before the State is how to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for operating and taking care of the buses procured with the JNNURM assistance.

The KSRTC has hinted that it is ready to hand over the 313 buses to the SPV.

Main condition

Setting up the SPV is the main condition put forward to the Local Self-government Department by the CSMC to release the first tranche of funds to the State under the JNNURM extended scheme.

The State had proposed to operate the buses in major towns and cities of 12 districts that were grouped under five clusters for smooth fleet operation.

A semi-low-floor non-air-conditioned bus (900-mm long) will cost Rs.30 lakh, semi-low-floor non air-conditioned bus (650 mm) Rs.40 lakh, and a premium standard air-conditioned bus Rs.90 lakh.

Compared to the scheme launched five years ago, intelligent transport system, upgrade of depots, and installation of central control room will form part of the JNNURM funding now

The mission will provide 80 per cent of the estimated cost, and the State will have to bear the rest.


Kochi corporation yet to identify projects for JNNURM funding

September 13, 2013



KOCHI: The cash-strapped Kochi corporation finds itself in a soup as it has not been able to identify projects as also prepare detailed project reports (DPR) to seek funding underJawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme.

At the council meeting held earlier this month, mayor Tony Chammany had said that it was important to submit detailed reports of the projects identified by July-end. This is because the Centre allocates funds on a first-come first-served basis to civic bodies. The mayor wanted the project proposals to be submitted early to ensure that they get included in the priority list.

 Though the corporation council in mid-June had approved a resolution to include flyover projects proposed at Edappally, Palarivatttom and Vytilla for JUNNURM funding, PWD minister V K Ibrahim Kunju opposed the move stating that it would only create confusion as these projects have already been approved by the state government. The minister pointed out that the corporation’s move would further delay the project.

Under this situation, now the local body has to identify fresh projects that could get Centre’s funding.

Sources said though the city requires major infrastructure projects, including road development, the corporation will not be able to take up projects without the state government’s support as it requires huge funding for massive land acquisitions. Though the corporation stated that it had planned to take up projects – such as canal and waterway protection, construction of Vathuruthy railway overbridge, heritage conservation project for Mattancherry and Fort Kochi, water transport development – for availing of the funds, the local body has not yet prepared the DPRs.

“The irrigation department has drawings which can be used for preparing detailed reports of canal and waterway protection projects. For Vathuruthy railway overbridge, the Roads and Bridges Corporation-Kerala (RBDC-K) has prepared drawings. The Indian Navy has to give nod for these drawings. Once the Navy gives its approval, the corporation can go ahead with plans to prepare the DPR,” said town planning committee chairman K J Sohan.

Meanwhile, the council had given its approval for some of these projects.




JNNURM buses less popular with commuters in Coimbatore

September 11, 2013


One of the components of the Jawarhalal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was introduction of attractive buses in a bid to make members of the public use the public transportation system extensively, but the manner in which the scheme was implemented proved to be counter productive.

The fares fixed for travel in JNNURM buses are 200 per cent more than the normal buses and this has discouraged people from using the facility.

In a memorandum to the Union Urban Development Ministry, Secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause (CCC) K. Kathirmathiyon, said that of the 2000 buses in Tamil Nadu, 1,064 were plying in Chennai, 213 in Madurai and 192 in Coimbatore.

In Coimbatore, the Ministry of Urban Development had approved Rs.44.39 crore in 2009, as its share (Additional Central Assistance – ACA) for purchase of 300 buses and an amount of Rs.22.19 crore was released earlier with 70 per cent of cost as Central Government assistance under JNNURM.

With the funds, the TNSTC purchased buses termed as “Luxury”, “Low Floor” and “Semi-Low Floor.”

But all these buses were operated with just ‘ordinary’ and not ‘luxury’ permits. These buses were in operation without the fare table approval by a competent authority. Ultimately, people from the middle-income and low-income group avoided travelling in JNNURM buses, as the fares were very high.

Interestingly, all private buses are being operated with ordinary fare only. The occupancy ratio of JNNURM buses compared to other ordinary buses (both private and State owned) could reveal the poor patronage for the former.

CCC has requested the Government to go in for ordinary buses only.

Since the cost of ordinary buses was lesser, more buses could be purchased with the funds. It would result in more buses for the people on different routes with ordinary fare.



State urged to bring urban transport under Urban Development Department

August 19, 2013

‘This will facilitate integration of land use and transportation’


The Union Ministry of Urban Development has asked the State government to designate the Urban Development Department (UDD) as the nodal department for all urban transport-related matters.

The Ministry said no planned urbanisation could be successful without an effective and efficient urban transport system.

Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), which caters to the public transport requirements of Bangalore, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North Western KRTC and North Eastern KRTC come under the Transport Department.

In a recent communiqué to the Chief Secretary, Union Urban Development Secretary Sudhir Krishna said the State UDD should also be responsible for planning land use for urban transport. Urban transport and planning should go together. However, in many States these two are segregated between the Transport Department and the UDD, he said. It had been well recognised that urban transport was the key for urban development as more than 70 per cent of the country’s GDP comes from cities.


Mr. Krishna said, “It is a matter of concern that despite this being one of the conditions of reforms at the State-level under the scheme for funding of buses for urban transport under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and in spite of issuing two advisories from the Ministry to chief secretaries of all States and Union Territories earlier, only a few States — Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan — have brought urban transport under one nodal department, i.e., urban development department.”

Designating the UDD as the nodal department for urban transport was necessary for the integration of land use and transport plans as envisaged in the National Urban Transport Plan, Mr. Krishna said. With this, urban transport remains as an integral part of urban planning at all levels and cities could be planned in a holistic manner, he said.

Responding to this, a senior Transport Department official said the department would have no objection to the move. The government had to take the decision, he said.

Mr. Krishna said failure to comply with the advisory, however, would not attract any penalty. There were about 30 conditions for funding under the JNNURM. Some of them are mandatory and some, including a single agency for urban planning and transport, are desirable. Karnataka, at least, had a Directorate of Urban Land Transport to plan for urban transport under the UDD, he said.

Cabinet nod for 10,000 buses under JNNURM; focus on hill states Wednesday, Aug 14, 2013, 11:

August 14, 2013


The project will cost around 6,300 crore rupees and the total estimated additional central assistance is about 4,450 crore rupees.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved funding for procurement of ten thousand buses and ancillary infrastructure for urban transport under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for all cities with special emphasis on hill states.

Decision to this effect was taken at a CCEA meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday evening.

The project will cost around 6,300 crore rupees and the total estimated additional central assistance is about 4,450 crore rupees.

The funding will improve urban services particularly urban transport in cities and towns.



Boost likely for public transport in Tier 2 cities

July 29, 2013



Transport corporations seek sanction for projects worth Rs. 972 crore in the transition phase 2013-14

Public transport in Tier 2 cities and towns is set to get a boost with the State government hopeful of getting substantial grants from the Union government to procure buses and create infrastructure under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

The three transport corporations serving Karnataka other than Bangalore, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), North West KRTC and North East KRTC, are submitting their own proposals to the Union Urban Developmeniest Ministry seeking sanction for projects, in all, worth Rs. 972 crore. The proposals include procurement of new buses for Tier 2 cities and construction of bus depots, workshops and bus stations.

Principal Secretary to Government (Transport Department) P. Ravi Kumar told The Hindu that the transport corporations are in advanced stages of making the proposals ahead of their counterparts in the country for JNNURM Transition Phase 2013-14.

He said, “Since we are conversant with the procedure, we are ahead of others and we might get the projects sanctioned very soon.”

The Union government would offer 80 per cent of the funds for JNNURM projects for Tier 2 cities while the beneficiary corporation and the State government have to bear the balance amount equally. This will help the transport corporations to provide affordable city commuting in their jurisdictions, Mr. Ravi Kumar said. KSRTC, which caters to commuters in the southern parts of the State, has submitted a proposal for Mysore city exclusively seeking to procure 500 buses, including air-conditioned vehicles, at a cost of Rs. 211 crore. It has proposed to procure 500 buses for 10 other cities/ towns under its jurisdiction at a cost of Rs. 137 crore besides proposing to spend Rs. 136 crore for various infrastructure projects, he said.

On the other hand, the North West KRTC, which caters to people in the north-western parts of the State, has proposed to procure 440 buses at a cost of Rs. 156 crore to serve seven towns under its jurisdiction. It has proposed to take up infrastructure projects worth Rs. 256 crore to provide more facilities to passengers. The NEKRTC, serving the north-eastern region of the State, is keen on procuring 140 buses for eight towns at a cost of Rs. 38 crore. It has sought sanction for infrastructure projects worth Rs. 38 crore, Mr. Ravi Kumar said.


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