“Smart cities are providing opportunities to have solutions by leapfrogging and not just by making incremental changes. For sanitation, we must deploy technology to bring transformational changes,” says Manoj Kumar Singh, Principal Secretary, Urban Development, Government of Uttar Pradesh in an exclusive interview with Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN).
What are the key takeaways from the Apex Conference on Smart Cities organised by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA)?
Many new indexes have been launched by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), from livability index to climate index. These are the new things in which we have to work. Kanpur has been awarded, but we are expected to do much better since Uttar Pradesh has more than 10 smart cities. Yogi Adityanath, Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh has announced seven municipal corporations which were not selected as smart cities by the Government of India as smart city projects. We have recently taken a decision to constitute a strong Programme Management Unit (PMU) at the state level to coordinate with these 10 central smart cities and the seven state-level smart cities.
You stated that cleanliness should be given priority. Please throw some light on that.
The basic function of the municipal corporations is sanitation and drinking water. Hence, they are topmost priorities in the hierarchy of duties which the municipality is supposed to discharge. But smart cities are providing such opportunities to have solutions by leapfrogging and not just by making incremental changes. For sanitation, we must deploy technology to bring transformational changes. Sanitation projects can be done in a better way using smart city modes.
Uttar Pradesh has 17 smart cities, of which 10 are central level and seven are state level. Kanpur is the only Smart City which has been selected for the award. What is your future plan to bag more awards?
A state-level PMU has been constituted and we will have focused attention on all the 17 smart cities. Hopefully, you will see the result next time.
A number of cities like Saharanpur and Moradabad are not being given that much focus and not so much of projects have been rolled out. What could be the probable reasons?
Saharanpur, Moradabad and Jhansi are the three most backward smart cities in Uttar Pradesh. They have been told to improve the situation. Projects they have identified but the number of tendered out projects is less and we are focussing on improving the numbers. By March, the situation will be better.
Out of 10 central and 7 state-level smart cites which smart city you think has been progressed much? And which one is the most favourite of the Government?
As far as tendering is concerned, Agra is the number one. They have tendered out projects of almost Rs 995 crore. They are in the process of obtaining No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Archeological Survey of India, National Monument Authority and Forest Department. Owing to Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ) and Taj Mahal, they have such restrictions, but they will be obtaining it. Kanpur is number one in expenditure and the rest of them they are in between.
Is there any special focus on Lucknow since it is the capital city?
Lucknow should have done better since it is the first smart city selected in the state. The main problem was that they could not identify the projects based on priority and did not have direct authority. For example, the rehabilitation of Chhatarmanzil was a challenging task since it is a huge building and under the control of Archeological Department, which did not grant them permission. Other such projects include riverfront development and more. These are the reasons which have held them back. Now they have restructured their plan and they will be improving soon.