HYDERABAD: As many as 92 of the 99 cities selected in the Smart Cities Mission, including Warangal, are also covered under other urban development-related schemes like Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), bringing into question the entire need for the Smart Cities Mission (SCM), a study said.
A June 2018 report, published by the Delhi-based NGO Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) and contributed by a graduate of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad showed that apart from Smart Cities Mission, Warangal and other four Telangana cities were recipient of large scale allocations under at least two urban development schemes like AMRUT and Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana.
“This raises serious concerns regarding the criteria for selection of the 99 ‘smart cities’. If 92 of the 99 selected cities were identified for development under AMRUT, why were they also selected to be developed as ‘smart cities’? Why were different cities that are not receiving attention under any of the central government schemes chosen instead,” the study, titled ‘India’s Smart Cities Mission: Smart for Whom? Cities for Whom?’ asked.
Questioning the credibility of decision-making behind the overlapping of cities under multiple schemes, the study asked “Since different schemes are led by different agencies and guided by different targets...one scheme could directly impede progress of another. The question then is: What is the value added by the Smart Cities Mission, or is it just a duplication of efforts and an avoidable dilution of accountability?”
In this regard HLRN had filed an RTI with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs seeking information on the convergence of AMRUT funds with the SCM. The ministry responded by saying that a special purpose vehicle had been created to monitor the SCM. Not satisfied with the response, HLRN filed an appeal which was turned down.
As said above, there are other schemes which converge with SCM, like the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). “Most of the housing projects listed under SCM are PMAY projects. But convergence of funding for their implementation is not clearly mentioned,” the study said.