In a pleasant surprise to Narendra Modi's ambitious project of building 100 smart cities, Puducherry has emerged as the first to qualify for such a project that could transform the cityscape and improve the standard of living of millions.
The small picturesque coastal city beat the major metros and other state capitals to get the nomination in less than a month of launch of Smart City Mission by Modi.
Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu complimented the union territory's chief minister N Rangaswamy for being the first off the blocks after the state forwarded the nomination along with all the forms and documents including the details of evaluation of all the five urban local bodies of Puducherry, Oulgaret, Kariakal, Mahe and Yanam in the Union Territory as required in the Stage-1 of City Challenge competition.
Puducherry, which has a population of 6.57 lakh, has done well in respect of several Stage-1 evaluation criteria and scored 75 of the possible 100 marks. The Puducherry Municipal Corporation has achieved 18 per cent improvement in the provision of household sanitary latrines since 2011, increased internal revenue generation continuously over the three year period 2012-15 marking an improvement of 14 per cent, paid salaries of staff till last month, got accounts audited up to 2012-13.
The southern coastal city also has 63 per cent of budgeted receipts from tax revenue, fees, user charges, rents and other internal resources during 2014-15, met 23 per cent of its capital expenditure from internal resources and 80 per cent of operation and maintenance costs of water supply through user charges, put in place an operational online grievance redressed system and published monthly e-news letter and made public details of municipal budget expenditure for the last two financial years on its website.
As per the criteria for assigning Smart City slots for each State and UT based on equal weightage for urban population and number of urban local bodies and to ensure geographical equity, Puducherry has been assigned one slot under Smart City Mission.
Urban Development Ministry is in regular contact with all the States and UTs regarding progress of Stage-1 of City Challenge competition ever since they were asked to send their nominations by the end of this month.
Source: Bloomberg TV
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14 June 2017