A day after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi targeted the Centre for “under-utilisation” of Smart City Mission funds, Hardeep Singh Puri, the Minister of State (independent charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs, has hit back, saying the Congress-led UPA had spent only 68 per cent of the Rs 460bn in its city-modernisation JNNURM scheme during its 10-year rule.
Gandhi had accused the BJP of making “empty promises”, latching on to media reports that out of the total Rs 986bn released to 60 cities under the Smart City Mission by the Centre, only seven per cent, or about Rs 6.45bn has been utilised so far.
Puri took to Twitter to advise the Opposition leader against selectively choosing information, saying 7 per cent was the amount of payments that have been made, while the actual payments due were 31 per cent.
He noted that the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was a city-modernisation scheme launched by the UPA in 2005. However, it was replaced by the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) after the NDA government came to power in 2014.
Puri had informed a Parliamentary consultative committee meeting recently that a total investment of around Rs 1911.55bn has been proposed by the 90 cities under their smart city plans.
He said projects focusing on revamping ‘an identified area (Area Based Projects)’ are estimated to cost Rs 1,525bn.
Projects worth Rs 1354.59bn are in various stages of implementation, while 147 projects worth Rs 18.72 bn have been completed, it added.
Puri said the implementation of the mission is done by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to be set up at city-level in the form of a limited company and are promoted by the State/UT and the Urban Local Body (ULB) jointly both having 50:50 equity shareholding. So far 77 ‘smart cities’ have established their SPVs, he informed.