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Dormant Smart City project lights up

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The Ludhiana Smart City project was announced in January 2016 and it has been more than a year that virtually no progress has been seen in the project so far. Ever since the Centre indicated that cities including Amritsar and Jalandhar will suffer in the absence of desired progress on the Ludhiana Smart City Mission, the Ludhiana Smart City Limited (LSCL) today announced that the financial bid for the projects such as digital signage boards; mobile and other public toilets; and solar panels for 15 government offices in the city, will be opened on

Monday. The technical bid was, however, opened here yesterday.
According to MC authorities, approximately Rs 18-19 crore would be spent on these three projects, which the officials claim will start in the month of June. So far, only Rs 32 crore has been released by the state government on the LSCL. One of the Board of Directors of the Smart City Project, Sanjay Goel, expressed happiness over the fact that at last there was some good news on the project.

“Recently, when Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, Navjot Sidhu was invited by the Architects’ Association here, lots of issues were discussed. He was upset over the pace of development on the project,” Goel said. Forget about people’s expectations, no technical suggestions were taken by the architects and the previous government and bureaucrats while shaping the city.
“Being one of the directors, I feel that the Centre should take up the project itself, leaving just about 10 per cent decisions on the state government. For example, if LED lights are to be installed, similar lights should be installed all over India. If this is done, the project will run smoothly,” he said.

An official associated with the project, however, said: “Rs 200 crore has been released by the Centre and a matching grant of Rs 200 crore has to be released by the state government. Forget about the matching grant, only Rs 32 crore has been released by the previous government so far. How can we come up with a Smart City? We do not have a magic wand.”

He said this slow pace of progress on LSCL will cast a shadow on other two cities chosen in Punjab. “The grants are exorbitant and we can make a difference in Punjab. But everything depends on the matching grants. Both the state government and the MC authorities have empty coffers. Nobody knows how will they continue with the project. We adhere to the instructions passed to us by the respective governments, an official said.

The shortcomings
No CEO has been appointed for the project so far. As a result, the project is directionless in the absence of a permanent CEO and funds
The Centre released the grant, but the state government has failed to provide a matching grant
The officials are regularly transferred and as a result, the project is nobody’s baby

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