Despite being the biggest contributor to Haryana’s exchequer, Gurgaon seems to be missing the smart city bus due to its civic mess and poor local governance.Eight municipal corporations from across the state presented their case before a team of state and centre officials headed by Haryana’s chief secretary Deepinder Singh Dhesi on Wednesday.
The other participants were Karnal, Faridabad, Sonipat, Panipat, Rohtak, Yamunanagar, Hisar and Palwal. Each corporation made a PowerPoint presentation trying to convince Dhesi and his team why it should be among the two cities which would represent Haryana in the Union government’s Smart City Challenge.
“As of now, the top three slots are acquired by Karnal, which has 90 points, Faridabad, which has 87.5 points, and Gurgaon, which has 85 points. The competition was very tough. Only two cities are to be selected, Gurgaon will have to prove its case in some extraordinary manner,” said an official who was present at the meeting but did not wish to be named.
Apart from Dhesi, other panelists were additional chief secretary Raghavendra Rao, officials from town and country planning department and Union urban development ministry. The challenge is for 100 cities across the country to compete for the Centre’s funding for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious project. Finally, top 20 cities would get a special-purpose vehicle (SPV) with a chairperson, CEO, board of directors and other functionaries under the Companies Act of 2013 for execution and implementation of the project, the guidelines for which have also been issued by the urban development ministry.
“Gurgaon has historically had little political influence in the state. That’s why it doesn’t even get a quarter of the revenue it generates for the state for its own development. Once major reason why Faridabad has scored better is that Gurgaon never qualified for Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) funds. Also, the property tax collection by MCG has been very poor in the past few years. At this stage it looks highly unlikely that Gurgaon will qualify,” said an official.
Haryana’s final results are likely to be announced within the next two weeks. Ambala and Panchkula have already been eliminated because they couldn’t meet the criteria. Another official, who was part of the team which represented Gurgaon said, “It reminded me of my UPSC interview. During the presentation, we were grilled by the chief secretary and the special team from the urban development ministry. The questions of the interview varied from the city to city because each place has its unique strengths.”
For example, Sonipat got just five minutes while Panipat’s interview lasted for over 15 minutes, the official said. “Gurgaon got a decent hearing and we are still hoping that being an IT and corporate hub, we would get special consideration,” the official added.