Published On : Fri, Jan 29th, 2016

Faulty DPR submitted by NMC cost Nagpur position in Smart Cities

Nagpur: While Nagpur citizens are still reeling under the shock of not having been included in the smart city list put up by the Central Urban Ministry, here is another fact that will stun everyone.

Not only have we lost the race to cities like Pune, Solapur, Bhopal, Jabalpur and Indore but we have also suffered an irretrievable loss of Rs. 86 lakhs – that being the money paid to a private Corporate for making the application on behalf of the Nagpur Municipal Corporation.

(The situation underlines the fact more starkly about how Nagpur continues to suffer being a part of Maharashtra, and its status of ‘second capital’ is non-sense. If Nagpur had remained the Capital of M.P. -Central Provinces- Bhopal, Jabalpur and Indore wouldn’t have rushed ahead of us.)

In September 2015, NMC had appointed Crisil Risk and Infrastructure Solution Limited in association with PriMove Infrastructure Development Consultants Pvt Ltd and Probity Soft Pvt Ltd as project management consultants (PMC) for preparation of the report. The firm was paid Rs 85.48 lakh for the work.

The PMC was to help the civic body to prepare its proposal so that NMC could compete with other municipal corporations. The private firm was supposed to prepare the DPR within 100 days from its appointment.

As per scope of the work given to Crisil, it was to include citizens’ opinion on what kind of Smart City they want. They were supposed to get the view of at least 5 lakh Nagpurians on the subject by making them fill out a questionnaire on the subject.

As it later transpires, not only did the PMC not do this work independently, NMC had to rope in 1000 employees to carry out survey work. This saved the Crisil conglomerate lakhs of Rupees; but the reason cited by NMC bosses for involving their own staff was that Crisil did not have enough manpower!

Question arises, when they were being paid so handsomely, could they not have employed temporary employees to carry out the work?

This situation has led to a lot of speculation: why did a cash starved NMC spend so heavily on outsourcing this crucial task of preparing the DPR? And then not make it accountable for fees being charged? Was their a big element of ‘kick-back’ involved which obliged City fathers to ‘help out Crisil’ carry out the work?

Whatever the reason or the logic, it now transpires that this project of asking Nagpurians what they want in a ‘smart city’ was handled in a very shabby way. Over 5 lakh citizens were to be interviewed. 5.5 questionnaires were circulated – of which about 3.5 responded. There is further suspicion that many of these were sham – it was the NMC staff themselves filling out the forms!

Apart from this segment of getting Nagpurians to speak out their aspirations the PDR was supposed to outline proposals for a blue print of the city’s development; factors like traffic control, parking facilities, planned urbanization, transparency in decision making and operations, digitization of services, garbage segregation and recycling etc. All these were to be reflected in detailed project report which would allow the city’s chances of becoming a ‘Smart City’ be evaluated properly. Obviously, the report finally produced and submitted failed on many of these counts.

Even if now some choose to cry Wolf and claim injustice has been done to Nagpur citing how states like W Bengal, Bihar and UP have been left out altogether, so political interference has been there in taking this decision, the reason will not stand. Since Nagpur is very much in the control of Ruling party BJP in all ways possible. The M.P., all the MLAs and most of the Corporators are from this party. Most importantly – it is the H.Q of RSS – there is no way Nagpur could have been rejected by design.

Now that Nagpur has suffered the ignonimity of being left out of this pet project of the PM let us take the opportunity to ask questions and seek replies.

Who let us down really?

… Sunita Mudaliar