KOCHI: Union minister for urban development M Venkaiah Naidu has asked local bodies in Kerala to generate more revenue. “If you give good service to people, they will be willing to pay,” he said on Tuesday. Hinting at the need to have more public private partnerships (PPP), Naidu said in the coming days of Smart City and Amrut, there would be a lot of opportunities for PPP. “Whenever it’s possible, please encourage that,” he said adding that people had to change their mindset.
Naidu was briefing the media after holding a meeting to review progress of various urban development projects like Smart City, Amrut Mission, Swachh Bharat and Kochi Metro. “Raise resources. For raising resources you must be transparent. You must be accountable,” he said. Naidu added that if authorities imposed higher taxes and did a good job, public would be willing to pay higher rates. The minister said that poor people should not be taxed as they would not be able to afford it. “It is finally left to the states which model they have to follow,” he added.
The minister said for implementing projects, supported or sponsored by the Centre, they would only provide ‘guidelines, decide broad parameters and let the state decide its own plan’. For implementing Smart City, Amrut, housing schemes and the like the state has to formulate plans in consultation with urban local bodies. “That is the new system that is in the offing,” said the minister. The Centre has already released Rs 200 crore for Smart City, Rs 135 crore for Amrut, and Rs 9.5 crore for Swachh Bharat. And Kochi Metro has been provide Rs 1,767 crore.
“The state has to match it. Sometimes urban local bodies have to match it and then take the programme forward,” he said. He said that Smart City was already moving forward. There was some delay in creating a special purpose vehicle, and the money, which has been released, has to be transferred to Kochi. They have to appoint a project management consultant and also hire other important consultants.
Cities having a population of one lakh and above are called Amrut cities. Kerala has seven such cities and ‘after discussion we have added two cities as special category. One is Guruvayur and the other is Kannur,’ said Naidu. Regarding Kochi Metro he said the project would become operational in April 2017. “We will be working and coming up with a new idea of cities and railways coming together. This is going to be some new scheme and those under Smart Cities will get additional advantages. The details will be announced later,” he said.
The minister also stressed the need for water conservation. While making rainwater harvesting mandatory, there should be focus on water recycling. The options of using solar energy has to be considered.
Credits ET Realty