Mumbai won't be a Smart City; withdraws from NDA government's flagship mission

Mumbai's iconic landmark, The Gateway of India. Picture for representational purposes
Mumbai's iconic landmark, The Gateway of India. Picture for representational purposes

India's financial capital Mumbai will not be listed in the last batch of Smart Cities, which will be unveiled by Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday. Mumbai is the second city to withdraw on political grounds, after New Town Kolkata, following West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's decision to create 'Green Cities'.

BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta informed M Venkaiah Naidu of Mumbai's decision to withdraw from the Smart Cities mission, while the latter was in Mumbai for a review of urban projects this June. Furthermore, a spokesperson from the Urban Development Ministry confirmed not receiving any proposal from Mumbai.

According to Indian Express, BMC's reservations regarding the Smart City mission's guidelines is believed to be the reason behind the withdrawal. The Shiv Sena-led civic body feels these guidelines may weaken the municipal body's hold on the mission.

A conditional proposal to allocate a majority of the funding for the mission to the business district of Lower Parel-Mahalaxmi was submitted by Mumbai in the competition's last round.

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with equal equity shareholding of the municipal body, state government, Centre and private firms will handle the implementation of the mission. This would result in an extremely low stake for the BMC.

BMC spokesperson Ram Dotonde said 14 conditions were submitted, which stated the civic body should have a major say in Mumbai's Smart City proposals, which was the government didn't accept.

With a budget of Rs 25,000 crore, Mumbai's Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is India’s richest urban local body. BMC officials felt the Centre's offer of Rs 100 crore for 5 years was insufficient for them to relinquish autonomy on development projects.

60 cities have been announced in 3 rounds of the competition since January 2016, and the remaining 40 proposed cities will be announced by Naidu.

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