Transparency demanded by Nagpur NGOs for Smart city project

Article from ET Realty

NAGPUR: Demanding white paper on Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) before implementing Smart City project, around 22 citizens’ groups have come together to start a citizens’ campaign.

Fearing that the ambitious Smart City project of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) will lead to privatization of basic amenities and further prove disadvantageous for citizens, several NGOs, social organizations, unions and local bodies have launched the campaign demanding greater transparency in the project. “Though JNNURM was announced to ensure basic services to the urban poor, till date there is no accountability of the policy guidelines. The civic administration focused on transforming the city into an investment destination but failed to ensure transparency,” said social activist Jammu Anand.

The participating organizations have alleged that the administration has coined a new term ‘Smart City’ but will follow the same modus operandi as in the case of JNNURM. “Even in this project, the civic agency has not spelt out the guidelines which will be implemented. We have already witnessed the ill-effects of privatization of water and bus services. If public services will be used for profitmaking under the project, only a certain section of society will be benefited from it,” said Swapnil Jamkar of Sarathi Trust.

Pointing out that the method of taking citizens’ views during Smart City campaign was wrong, Anand said that the questions were asked in a way to bring out affirmative responses from citizens. “We all want a safe city, good roads and better amenities. But what needs to be made public are the guidelines on the basis of which these services will be implemented,” he said.

The campaign aims at creating a public platform which would be open for all citizens to discuss various components of urbanization. On Monday, a workshop will be held for the participating organizations in which details regarding the role of urban bodies and citizens will be discussed. Problem areas will also be identified. On January 10, a citizens convention will be organized in which residents of different areas will come forward to discuss urban services and evolve strategies.

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