The Andhra politician better known for his 'funny' and 'rhyming' one-liners—like, "We say dynasty is nasty in politics, Congressmen say dynasty is tasty"—is lording over one of Modi's key ministries. Traditionally, under the previous regime, the focus of the urban development ministry was on agencies like the Delhi Development Authority and schemes like JNNURM.
But after the end of the extended period of JNNURM, the focus of the ministry under the Narendra Modi government has shifted to the Prime Minister’s pet 100 Smart Cities proposal. Of course, it is impossible to see any result of the smart cities project in such a short time, but despite such a big claim, little has moved in that direction apart from large scale discussions on the subject. Says urban evangelist V. Ravichander, “What has happened is a proliferation of conferences on the smart city project. On the ground, nothing else is visible.”
The problem is that while the intent of creating the smart cities is a great one and an initial sanction of Rs 7,000 crore has been made for the project, nothing has moved in this direction including identifying the cities, the roadmap and time frame. In fact the ministry is yet to decide the contour of a smart city and there is very little clarity on or an agreed definition as to what would make a city "smart".
Says Urban planner K.T. Ravindran, “The 100 smart cities is a great idea but it is one thing to announce an idea as a national project. It is a totally different thing to take it up and rigorously make it work. That clearly has not happened. The problem is that these cities are being largely looked at from a financial and IT interface point of view, which is insufficient as the financial and IT model might not be suitable for the urban poor.”
The other issue is the promise of providing affordable housing for the poor. Here too little seems to have happened primarily because being a state subject, the strategies have to be aligned with the states. What is visible though is the progress on the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor where there is visible progress, though in secluded pockets. Another project where there is considerable progress is the Delhi Metro and other metros. But much of this has been legacy of the previous government. The only thing working for Naidu is that he comes with a reputation for getting things going.
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Hope that everybody will keep it in mind and they will improve image of Parliament by their conduct inside as well as outside House.
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