The state capital may have moved up four notches since the last evaluation of projects executed under the Smart City mission, but the current rank of 41 among 100 cities in the country is no less of an embarrassment.
The awkwardness is a bit too pronounced when three other cities among the 10 in the fray from UP have done fairly well. Kanpur boasts an all-India rank of seven; Agra is in spot 12; and Varanasi is placed 13th, according to the data recently released by the ministry of housing and urban affairs.
The rankings are based on the progress of projects meant for execution in 2019. A complete project has earned a city grade A; an ongoing project has secured grade B; and if a city has failed to launch a project, it has been graded C.
Lucknow had a target of seven projects, of which it couldn’t finish a single one. In five projects, the city got ‘B’ and two non-starter missions earned it ‘C’.
The evaluation, which was earlier done annually, is now being done half-yearly. In 2018, the state capital had ranked 45. It held on to that position in the evaluation of projects done in the first half of 2019, the results of which were released in September.
Under the Smart City mission, the city must complete 57 projects by 2024. Out of these, only three projects have been completed so far by the designated wing of Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) while work is in progress for 36 others. The LMC is yet to launch the remaining 18 projects.
According to civic officials, smart bus shelters, a command and control centre and solar panel installation at five government buildings are complete.
Projects that are underway include the ambitious area-based development of Kaiserbagh. The development project involves automatic variable messaging boards to guide commuters; smart parking with an app informing people about available space in real time; and construction of roads with green belts and pavements, among other things.
General manager of LMC’s smart city project division SFA Zaidi blamed private contractors for the tardy pace of work.
“We had to cancel the tenders of three projects because the hired agencies were laggard. Tendering is a long process and we need to ensure that all points are covered before a job is handed over,” he said.