Panaji is yet to attain a ‘Smart city’ status, although the government has injected Rs 200 crores in its kitty for this purpose alone. Though the Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Corporation Limited has outlined a number of small and medium projects, they have remained an imaginary prospect on paper so far.
Touted as a plan to make Panaji one of the best cities in India, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship programme to implement a number of smart cities across the country, a staggering Rs 200 crores was injected into the state’s kitty.
But with the exception of a few interventions, the state-owned special purpose vehicle IPSCDL has very little to show in terms of the mission to turn Panaji into a ‘smart city’ as promised.
It may be recalled that IPSCDL was a special purpose vehicle incorporated as a state-owned company by the late chief minister, Manohar Parrikar. Despite Panaji not making the mark on population, geographical size and other parameters, it was selected for the mission on the behest of the late CM.
According to The Goan, just a handful of projects have been tendered or completed. Substantive infrastructure development needs of the city are still hanging in the balance. Officials in the State’s finance ministry have confirmed that since March 2017, they have disbursed Rs 200 odd crores to the Corporation for various projects.
With the IPSCDL replacing tiles of a footbridge in Miramar at a cost of Rs.1.2 crores or yet to be commissioned underground power cabling in Ribandar, none, of these projects undertaken by IPSCDL, as the city fathers point out, measures up. Another project, the 1100 sq meter broad walk, designed by reputed architect Gerard Da Cunha, along the mangrove, flanking the Rua de Ourem creek in the Patto area, have not brought the desired results or footfalls as envisaged.
Another project which has drawn severe criticism is the renovation of Portuguese-era tiled roofed structures on the banks of the Mandovi River which housed the erstwhile PWD offices. The IPSCDL has intended to house its office there. The project has been finalized for an exorbitant Rs20 crore. Another tender quoted a whopping Rs35 lakhs just to paint ‘Zebra Crossings’ at predetermined locations in the city.
This led to the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) withdrawing the tender following allegations of graft by critics, particularly successive mayors of the CCP.
Speaking to The Goan, Mayor Uday Madkaikar said, “It is severely hampering our functioning as IPSCDL is an authority unto itself. It does not take the CCP into confidence and it also fails to keep us informed on the nature of the work it intends to take up or the geographical location of where it wants to execute its planned projects.” He along with other ex-mayors like Surendra Furtado and Chopdekar have objected to the fact that no Mayor has been included on the IPSCDL Board of Director, which is in violation of the guidelines laid down in the Centre’s Smart City programme.
“Recently we planned to take up the development of a garden adjacent to the existing one at Caranzalem. When we began working on formulating the tender, we were told that IPSCDL is working on the project. Similar problems were faced in some other parts of our jurisdiction,” said Madkaikar pointing out that the IPSCDL does not even keep CCP informed of its plans which severely hampers CCP’s statutory responsibility towards the city.
Panaji’s new MLA, Atanasio Monserrate, who handles the CCP’s portfolio, has promised to intervene. It is expected that he will propose that the IPSCDL be headed by the Chief Minister and include the Mayor on its Board of Directors.
Source: The Goan