The government on February 9 said that almost all 100 cities selected under the smart cities initiative are progressing “fairly well” with some facing a slowdown in work due to COVID-19 and local factors.
The Centre’s assertion came in response to a question in Lok Sabha by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who asked about “discrepancies” in the implementation of the projects under the smart city programme.
Mr. Tharoor cited a comparison between Varanasi with Atal Nagar in Chhattisgarh, saying while most projects are complete for the former, only a few had wrapped up for the latter.
In response to the question during Question Hour, Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said, “When you read facts and figures, you have to be careful.” Sometimes, very little work is left for a project under construction to be completed but till the completion certificate comes, it will be shown as work under progress, Mr. Puri pointed out.
“Almost all 100 cities are doing fairly well. In some due to the COVID-19 period, there was a slowdown, or there were local factors….the State governments also has a role in this (projects),” he said.
Mr. Puri stressed that in places where local MPs and elected representatives take interest, there is a very big difference.
Responding to the claim of “uneven progress”, Mr. Puri said, “Varanasi was declared a smart city in September 2016, while Atal Nagar came in round three, much later. So to compare something which is in round one to something which is in round three also requires what I call a statistical hop, step and jump which I think educated members and analysts should try and avoid indulging in.”
Hundred smart cities had been selected through four rounds of competition from January 2016 to June 2018. The Ministry had launched the Smart Cities Mission on June 25, 2015.