BENGALURU: After failing to make the cut twice, Bengaluru has finally been chosen for the Smart City project. This time, the state government plans to focus on preserving the heritage aspects of the tech city.
Under the project, Bengaluru is expected to get `1,000 crore over the next five years. This includes `500 crore as the state’s share. “We had made a presentation for `1,700 crore worth projects to improve the city, especially those that represent old Bengaluru,” said an official of Urban Development Department.
Major places in the core areas like K R Market (City market), Russell Market, Cubbon Park, Ulsoor and Sankey tanks, KC General hospital, TenderSURE roads and the slum in Gandhinagar, which is in the heart of the city, are expected to get a makeover.
Urban Development Department Additional Chief Secretary Mahendra Jain told Express that the Smart City project will give further impetus to the government’s ongoing efforts to provide enhanced services through leveraging technology and improving delivery systems.
“In terms of resources, it is not a massive addition to what the state government is already doing over the recent years. But it has potential to catalyse citizen participation and become true stakeholders. We are excited that the Union government has approved our proposal to include Bengaluru under the project,’’ he said.
Urban expert V Ravichandar welcomed the move. “Under the project, money flow might be limited. But it gives an opportunity to handle an issue with a different outlook. For instance, if KR Market is developed, the same model can be replicated at other markets. Similarly, other issues can be dealt with, not necessarily with the Smart City project fund, but with other grants,’’ he felt.
Bengaluru wasn’t considered in the first round when the project was announced in 2015. The following year, due to pressure from Union ministers and MPs from Karnataka, the city was considered for the project, but lost out by 0.5 marks. “This is because we had less time to prepare. We were given 30 days to make the presentation. This year, we had three months time where we did survey, used social media, interacted with stakeholders, communicated with the public and undertook lots of exercises,’’ an official in Urban Development Department said.
Explaining about the project aspects, a senior BBMP official said the existing KR Market was a santhe (fair) ground during the time of the city’s founder-chieftain Kempegowda. In the 1900s, during the reign of the Mysore maharajas, the KR Market structure was constructed. It is historically significant because it was the first building to get power supply in Asia. But at present, it is in a pathetic state with no toilets, mounds of garbage, chaos in the parking lot etc. BBMP is struggling hard to keep the place clean, but in vain.
“We chose this place because we want to keep it clean and protect its heritage value,’’ said the official. The same model can be replicated at Russell market which also has heritage value. K C General hospital in Malleswaram too has historical value. With the funds alloted under the Smart City project, we can improve the hospital on par with private hospitals,” the official said.
How they fare
Shivamogga Survey, design taken up
Eight months after Shivamogga received final clearance for Smart City project, there are some signs of work on the ground. In the first week of June, consultants from two private firms took up the survey and design of three works.
Davangere: Work yet to start, funds unused
Davangere was selected for the project in 2015, but nearly two years later, it is yet to kick off. The state and Central governments had released D387 crore, which is lying with Davangere City Corporation.
Hubballi-Dharwad Plans under draft stage
Hubballi-Dharwad Smart City Ltd signed an MoU with project consultant, Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC), but progress has been slow. Authorities said all proposed plan are under draft stage. Once project reports are prepared, PwC will choose agencies through request for proposal or tender bids.
Belagavi: Command centre yet to be set up
Belagavi was selected for the project in 2015 but two years later, a command control centre is yet to be established. The city corporation invited a global tender to set up the centre at D76.53 crore only last week.
Mangaluru: Private funds yet to flow in
Despite being touted as the most potent case for smart city among 100 cities in the country, Mangaluru has not been able to cope with demands of generating income from private agencies vis-a-vis government participation.