Dec-end deadline for smart cities plan

January 6, 2015

NEW DELHI: With the urban development ministry still caught up in preparing the concept note for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100 smart cities scheme, the PMO has set this month end as the deadline to make a final presentation. Sources said the deadline is aimed at fast-tracking the scheme so that some work can start by the end of this financial year.

The ministry is staring at surrendering most of the Rs 6,274 crore budget allocated this year for the smart cities programme and a new mission for renewal of urban infrastructure in place of JNNURM. TOI has learnt that so far about Rs 800 crore from this allocation has been utilized under urban transport head and another Rs 200 crore could be used by March.

Since the conceptualization of smart city project and the new mission to replace JNNURM are still under process, there is hardly any scope for the ministry to utilize substantial allocation. “You can’t utilize more than 33% of the unutilized allocation in the last quarter,” a government source said.
Meanwhile, with the government yet to finalize the new urban renewal mission, the future of about 250 unfinished infrastructure projects in big cities under JNNURM is hanging in balance. The Centre has stopped releasing any fund for these works. Sources said the ministry in its new mission proposal to the Cabinet will include the provision to provide about Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 crore annually for such projects so that these can be completed.

Pushing for completion of these projects, a parliamentary panel on UD has observed, “It would be a monumental waste of public money to have expended thousands of crores on incomplete projects only due to the lack of coordination and flexibility between Central and state governments. This would be a most undesirable state of affairs.”

The committee found that no urban infrastructure project has been completed in the seven mission cities of Uttar Pradesh while only 33 out of 71 projects in Gujarat, 16 out of 46 projects in Karnataka and 17 out of 50 projects in Andhra Pradesh have been completed. It has recommended completing at least all remaining projects of JNNURM within a time-bound manner and these should be funded by the Centre.


Source:Times Of India

Narendra Modi’s imprint on smart city project

September 23, 2014

After the curtains came down on the UPA regime’s JNNURM scheme, the urban development ministry has got a clear message from the PMO that reliable, adequate and utility services would be critical to a ‘smart city’ while the design and creation should be “region-specific and not a generalised concept as practiced earlier.”

“The PM wants to take big city living to a new level where 24/7 utilities services becomes an essential in public service delivery. So, would be technology-based governance and monitoring of services provided to citizens. Not to miss, a high quality social infrastructure including Wi-Fi zones and recreational spaces form core of the new plans for these cities on the anvil,” Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu said.

On Wednesday, the ministry unveiled a ‘Concept Note on Smart Cities’ giving broad contours about smart cities and their related aspects like financing and selection criteria. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which was launched in 2005, had almost 40 per cent of its work incomplete at the time of its closure on March 31 this year.


















“A smart city cannot have only a few hours of water supply a day, or electricity that goes off for several hours, or streets littered with garbage. The general appearance of the city has to be pleasing and clean. In Delhi, it is being proposed that the DDA will develop a new smart city through the land pooling scheme and in that, parts of the NDMC area may also be considered for demonstrating all the components of smart cities,” Naidu added.

Using an average figure of 1 million people in each of the 100 smart cities, the High Power Expert Committee on Investment Estimates in urban infrastructure has assessed investment requirements for the services covered comes to Rs.7 lakh crore over 20 years. This translates into an annual requirement of Rs.35,000 crore. “A large part of the financing for smart cities will have to come from the private sector with the states/cities and central government only supplementing that effort,” the document said.

A senior ministry official said that the ministry is deliberating on new models and various global cities in Korea, Canada, North America and some Nordic countries. The ministry has also started talking to states and asked them for proposals on which city they would nominate for the NDA’s ambitious Smart City project.



















“We’re taking states along on this. A lot of state capitals and a few heritage and historic cities with a high spiritual value and tourism appeal have already made to the list,” the official said. Most of these cities would thrive on high quality information accessible to citizens.

“A very important feature of all smart cities is good citizen access to information. Whether it be regarding city specific data or the measures being taken by municipal bodies or information relating to various service providers such as transport and similar information relevant for potential investors has to be conveniently available. This could be through multiple channels – internet, mobile apps, radio, TV, print media, etc,” the official said.

In the Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had promised allocation of a sum ofRs.7,060 crore for the development of the smart cities.

Source:India Today

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

 Israelis and Palestinians must stop circling the grindstone of violence, remember the future

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.”


Land acquisition cost puts the brakes on road projects in city

November 26, 2013



Many overbridge and road projects in the city are becoming non-starters as the State government and the Kochi Corporation are scouting for funds to acquire land for the projects. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds only cover the projects’ construction cost.

On an average, a two-lane overbridge can be built for less than Rs.15 crore. But land acquisition and rehabilitation costs within the city may work out to around Rs.100 crore, which is around seven times the project’s cost.

The cost of land acquisition for a two-lane overbridge proposed at Atlantis works out to over Rs.100 crore. Similar is the case with Pachalam overbridge. Both the projects are hanging fire for over a decade, causing hardships to commuters. In the case of Thammanam-Pullepady Road, the cost of building a tarred road is just over Rs.20 crore, while expenditure for acquiring land at 18 metre width works out to over Rs.100 crore. The project cost for Goshree-Mamangalam Road is over Rs.23 crore, while widening the narrow stretch into four or two lane will cost more.

Chairman of the corporation’s town planning committee and former Mayor K.J. Sohan suggested narrowing down of four-lane bridges to two-lane wherever possible so that land acquisition is minimal. “Cost of land acquisition can further be brought down if bridges are built at 1:20 gradient – an elevation of a metre for every 20 metre distance,” he said.

The gradient as per JNNURM norms is 1:30, which would increase the bridge’s length. Though this specification ensures a less-steep bridge, the area of land to be acquired increases.



“Dilution of norms might result in denial of JNNURM funds. Even then, the financial liability on State government and the civic agency concerned would be much lesser for each project,” he said.

Lack of clearances delays infrastructure projects

October 16, 2013

Pavan MV,  TNN |


BANGALORE : Inspection of ongoing infrastructure projects is springing surprises at every turn , with decision makers finding that basic approvals haven’t been sought.On Tuesday , Bangalore development minister R Ramalinga Reddy found that the BDA requires 3.2 acrestocomplete the Nayandahalli flyover near Mysore Road which has been hanging fire for two years .Shockingly , the BDA commenced construction without completing land acquisition . The construction of the 960-metre long flyover began in 2010 and was scheduled to be completed by 2013 . Even if BDA gets the required land now , it needs five months to completethe project .Theland belongs to over 40 people .

Last week, during the inspection of the Road Over Bridge near Byappanahalli , mayor Sathyanarayana found that BBMP had commenced work on two ROBs at Byappanahalli and Jakkur without completing land acquisition .

The delay in the Nayanhahalli flyover has become a huge problem for commuters on Mysore Road due to frequent traffic jams . Alongside , work on the Metro rail is on and is adding to the gridlock .

Ramalinga Reddy said , “Since the property is situated on Mysore Road , its value is quite high and the owners expectusto pay the market value . We’ll sort out the issue soon .”

Metro corridor

After inspecting the Metro corridor work , Ramalinga Reddy said the National College Metro corridor will be completed by March 2014, and the train will run from Byappanahalli station to Mysore Roadstation by 2014.He also assured that Metro services from Peenya to Malleswaram would be operational by this year-end and work from Kaggalipura to City Market will be completed by 2015.

Pradeep Singh Kharola , MD, BMRC, said there is a proposal to concretize the road below the Metro corridor from MG Road station to Byappanahalli station . Asked about bad roads below the Metro corridors , he said road work cannot be taken up till Metro work is on .

On parking

BBMP is gearing up to provide parking for Metro commuters. BS Sathyanarayana said BBMP will identity properties belonging to it near all Metro stations. “Ramalinga Reddy has told us to utilize funds under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission scheme for this project,” he said.

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.


More flyovers to be stent in Ahmedabad arteries

September 24, 2013

Himanshu Kaushik & Shakil Pathan, TNN


AHMEDABAD: The standing committee of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has approved the proposal for a flyover connecting Vijay Crossroads and Drive-in. This flyover, 2.5-km-long, will be the longest in the city. Further, it will be built over existing flyovers over 132 Feet Ring Road and at Helmet Crossroads.

AMC officials said the standing committee has approved four new flyovers, work on which will be started only when the detail project report (DPR) gets approval of JNNURM officials.

The civic body officials said that survey by Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), New Delhi, had revealed that traffic coming into the city from Gurukul was much heavier than the traffic along the 132 Feet Ring Road. Hence, a flyover over the existing one over the 132 Feet Ring Road was felt necessary. Similarly, the survey had revealed that there were frequent traffic jams at Shyamal Crossroads and Jivraj Mehta Crossroads. Hence, a new flyover was needed at Helmet Crossroads while the existing one would be extended.

The other two flyovers will be built at Hatkeshwar junction in Khokhra and Dinesh Chambers junction in Bapunagar area.

According to municipal commissioner Guruprasad Mohapatra, the estimated cost of the project had been kept on the higher side, in view of the rise in the cost of construction material over the time it took to complete a flyover.

The AMC officials said that on the basis of a survey of 34 junctions carried out by the CRRI, it has been decided in principle that the construction of flyovers and underpasses will be taken up in a phased manner. The city currently has around 30 lakh vehicles and another two lakh are added every year, the officials said.

“The existing flyover at Jivraj railway crossing will be extended on both sides. The bridge toward Shyamal Crossroads will be extended to Shyamal Crossroads while the one towards Jivraj Crossroads will also be extended to cover Jivraj Crossroads,” said an official.


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.




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.

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