KOCHI: A detailed discussion lasted for more than four hours but failed to give a clear picture to eradicate the apprehensions of City Corporation councillors over the implementation of the Smart City project.
During a special session of the council convened on Tuesday, top officials of the state level Smart City Mission failed to address the apprehensions of councillors on user fees, formation of the special purpose vehicle and financial structuring of the project.
Meanwhile, the high power steering committee meeting to be chaired by the chief secretary on Wednesday at Thiruvananthapuram will take a decision on SPV formation and appointment of its CEO. Mayor Soumini Jain will also attend the meeting.
Strongly criticizing the Smart City Mission’s and Mayor Soumini Jain’s approach of keeping the councillors in the dark over imposing user fees and formation of SPV, Education Standing Committee chairperson Dr. Poornima Narayan said that even the top authorities were clueless about the Smart City guidelines and implementation.
“There are several questions that remain unanswered on the role and powers of the civic body in the SPV, nomination of its CEO, following a uniform guideline for all the selected cities, imposing user fees and other hidden traps if any. As per the proposal submitted by the civic body to the Union Ministry of Urban Development, the civic body has agreed to impose user fees for all essential services including drinking water and sewage management,” she said.
Replying to the debate, Mayor Soumini Jain said the that implementation of the project would be done in a very transparent manner. “The civic body can use unused funds of other projects as ULB’s share of the Smart City initiatives,” she said. Ms. Jain added that the project would not result in regional disparity in development as the two pan city solutions like Smart Card and 24X7 drinking water supply would cater to the entire city areas.
Three divisions in the Central area and four divisions in west Kochi areas had been included in the Smart City development plan, she added.
Councillors T.K Ashraf, Syamala Prabhu, K.R Prem Kumar, Johnson master, Adv. Sunila Selvan, V.P Chandra, K.J Basal, Aji Francis and Rajeev Chandrasekharan also participated in the debate....