Karnal Smart City dreams in limbo

Received Rs103 cr grant, including Rs53 cr from the Centre, but only four major projects worth Rs12.52 cr completed so far

Karnal Smart City dreams in limbo

The parking at old sabzi mandi in Karnal. Photo: Sayeed Ahmed

Parveen Arora

The project of developing Karnal as a ‘Smart City’ may get further delayed, as the proposals of many key projects are still lying in limbo.

The tender process of most of these projects has already been initiated, but these remain stalled due to several reasons. The Urban Local Bodies (ULB) Haryana has directed the authorities to re-design some of the projects.

The parking at old MC building in Karnal. Photo: Sayeed Ahmed

After issuing the directions to ‘redesign’ the project of developing Mughal Canal phase-II and III market, the ULB has asked the authorities to review the proposals of other major projects, including multi-storey parking along with commercial complex at the site of the old office of Karnal Municipal Corporation (KMC) near Committee Chowk, redevelopment of old city bus stand and redevelopment of old vegetable market.

The project of developing Mughal Canal phase-II and III market was to be developed in a unique way above the podium floor at a cost of Rs225 crore. It was a dream project of the smart city initiative and the drawing was earlier approved by the ULB as well as the state government. Its tender process had already been completed. However, the work was not allotted. If the fresh process to design and develop this project is initiated, it may take around six months.

Redevelopment of old bus stand hang in fire in Karnal. Photo: Sayeed Ahmed

The Karnal Smart City Limited (KSCL), a special purpose vehicle (SPV) looking after the smart city project, had proposed a multi-storey at the KMC old office site, with minus two basement parking facility along with commercial complex, which was to be constructed at the cost of Rs74 crore. Rehabilitation and redevelopment of 121 existing shops at this site is a major hurdle in this project. The entry of this site is only 4.5 metre wide and it would not be possible to construct minus two basement parking, say sources. The ULB has asked the authorities to review the proposal again.

The redevelopment of the old city bus stand was to be developed in a unique way having the facilities of a plaza, elevated local bus stand, bank square building, digital library, skill centre, conference hall, science museum among others at a cost of Rs100 crore, while the old vegetable market was to be re-developed after having two basement parking of more than 200 vehicle capacity at a cost of Rs22 crore. The ULB raised some objections on this project and for the objection removal, the project will have to be passed again in the General House meeting of the KMC. Under the second phase of this project, commercial complex would be developed having banqueting facility with fun zone at an estimated cost of Rs50 crore, but the approval to this drawing was yet to be given. Now, the board of directors of the KSCL will review the concept, design and proposals of these projects again. The date of the meeting of the board of the directors is yet to be finalised.

Upcoming projects

The KSCL has allotted the work of re-development and beautification of Novelty Road from Novelty Cinema to Meera Ghati Chowk at an estimated cost of Rs2.47 crore and construction of ‘neki ki diwar’ on railway road at the cost of Rs10 lakh. The authorities claim the work on both projects would commence in a couple of days.

All government buildings falling under the area-based development (ABD) plan of the Smart City will have green energy with solar panels. The KSCL has already conducted a survey of these buildings. The Centre has allotted Rs38.45 crore for the project under the Smart City Mission funds. As many as 40 government buildings and schools selected under Smart School project have already been identified for the installation of solar rooftop within ABD area. The DPR of the project is at an advance stage.

Apart from it, the re-development and beautification of Meerut Road from Maharana Pratap Chowk to Tau Devi Lal Chowk and Maharana Pratap Chowk to Namastey Chowk will be done in the coming days. The detailed plan for laying the underground power lines has been submitted to KSCL and it has further asked the UHBVN to provide an estimate for the project. The DPR of this project is under progress for remaining components. The forest clearance has been applied. The KSCL has shortlisted three sites to create public plazas at a cost of Rs25 crore for public convenience, public recreational activities.

The delay in the commencement of the some major projects of the smart city project is leading to resentment among residents. Besides, it is giving an opportunity to opposition parties to take a jibe at the government.

Delay causing resentment

  • The delay in the commencement of some major schemes of the smart city project is leading to resentment among residents. Besides, it is giving an opportunity to Opposition to take a jibe at the government. “Around two-and-a-half years have already been passed, but no major work has been done on this project. We don’t feel we are living in a smart city. The government should speed up work on the smart city projects,” said Kewal Krishan, a resident of Sector-13. Pankaj Gaba, a Youth Congress leader, said: “Nothing has been done on ground. Only planning is being done. The state government should speed up work on smart city projects,” he said.
  • The work of two projects under Smart City project, including re-development and beautification of Novelty Road from Novelty Cinema to Meera Ghati Chowk (estimated cost Rs2.47 crore) and construction of 'neki ki diwar' on railway road (cost Rs10 lakh), was, however, launched by MP Sanjay Bhatia on Friday.

Two-and-a-half-year delay

Karnal was included in the smart cities’ list on June 23, 2017. A Special Purpose Vehicle was constituted on August 1, 2017, which later appointed the project management consultant in October 2018. As many as 57 projects, costing Rs1,171.83 crore, comprising 40 projects costing Rs1,022.08 crore have been kept under the area based development for smart amenities on 720 acres around Clock Tower Chowk, Kunjpura Road, bus stand, Model Town, and Mughal Canal market in the next five years and 17 projects worth Rs149.75 cr under PAN City Solutions.

Funds not used

Under the Smart City project, the KSCL had received around Rs103 cr grant, including Rs53 cr from the Centre, but only four major projects worth Rs12.52 cr had been completed, while Rs1.45 cr has been utilised under the office expense. Work on seven projects worth Rs20.15 cr is under way, sources said.

Projects under way

  • The work on smart schools is under way and the authorities are hopeful that this project will complete in a couple of months. Under this project, students will be taught with hi-tech learning tools, online study materials along with video-conferencing. An e-learning portal has also been developed for better learning. As many as nine schools are being developed at a cost of Rs3.57 crore.
  • Apart from this, the work on Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) project has already been started at a cost of Rs158.99 crore. It is expected that it will be completed this year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation stone of this project from Rohtak in 2019. This project will provide better traffic management, traffic regulation, security with the help of high-resolution CCTV cameras, most public utility services under a roof, effective light monitoring, effective door-to-door waste collection, smart parking, wi-fi facility in parks and at public places, monitoring of streetlights and others. With the help of this project, various departments will be able to use the data, so that civic services can be delivered more efficiently. The grievances of citizens regarding the services provided by the government will be registered online. Under the ICCC project, as many as 40 kiosks will be established in various parts of the city to help people avail the services of the Union and state governments.

Officialspeak

‘Major development expected this year’

Major development projects under the Smart City Mission will be witnessed in the city in the current year, as the tender of several projects either have been floated or are being floated. The project of smart schools, ICCC, re-development and beautification of Novelty Road from Novelty Cinema to Meera Ghati Chowk, ‘neki ki diwar’ and installing green energy projects will be completed this year. Two to three proposals of each project have been sent to the government, which are under consideration. Now, these proposals will be put up in the meeting of the board of the directors, which will be held soon. We are hopeful the projects will get clearance from the board of directors and work on these will commence soon. We have planned the Smart City project keeping in view the expansion of the city, the volume of traffic and populations. We are optimistic that the projects will commence this year. — Rajiv Mehta, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Smart City

‘Monitoring projects on timely basis’

I am hopeful that major projects will commence soon. We are monitoring the progress of the Smart City projects on timely basis. Feedback of various stakeholders, including public representatives, is being taken. Our target is to develop sustainable infrastructure for the city in the coming days. — Nishant Kumar Yadav, Deputy Commissioner

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