Tamil Nadu govt draws flak for delaying Smart City projects
The special purpose vehicles, formed under the Smart City Mission to implement projects, lacks decision making powers in Tamil Nadu. As per the Smart City Mission guidelines, SPVs should function independently from the government and implement the project. But the SPV formed by the Coimbatore Corporation can neither sanction bigger projects nor approve proposals. Delay in getting a nod from the state government and hindrance from the political heads have delayed the projects, an official said.
“As per the smart city mission guidelines, the board of directors of SPV should be entitled with power to take independent decisions. But the Tamil Nadu government has passed an order stating that only projects below Rs 6 crore can be sanctioned by the commissioner of municipal administration. For projects above this estimate, sanctions need to be obtained from various departments and the state high power committee. That delays the project,” said a senior corporation official.
An official said it took them a year to get approval for some projects. “There is no independence. It becomes difficult to implement every project when we have to run from pillar to post for approvals and sanctions,” said the official, adding that Surat and Pune were higher ranked as they worked independently.
The Coimbatore Corporation has not even appointed an independent chief executive officer and independent board of directors in the SPV. “We have sent recommendations to the state government and await approval,” said an official. Regarding the CEO post that was created mainly so that political interference is avoided, the politicians tried to employ their relatives to run the show. After that was stopped after a social media campaign, the officials said that the city corporation commissioner would function as CEO. The post remains with him and will become vacant once he gets transferred. “If the SPV has not been established as per norms, it is difficult to monitor projects for a period of five years and ensure they are continued for the coming years,” said an activist.
A senior official at the state government said that the issue of government nod was raised by the ministry of housing and urban affairs as well in the meetings.