SEBI Allows Smart Cities To Issue Municipal Bonds
In a move to push the government's smart city project, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on August 21, 2019, allowed the cities to issue municipal bonds to raise funds. With this, a larger number of registered entities will be able to raise funds through the listing of their debt securities. Currently, this fund-raising route is only available to the issuers defined as a municipality or its subsidiary.
Apart from this, the market regulator has also amended norms to do away with requirements such as appointment of a monitoring agency, filing of viability certificate or detailed project appraisal report, setting up of a separate project implementation cell, etc., on industry recommendations.
Centre To Roll Out The First 50 Smart Cities, By December 2019
By December 2019, the government will be ready to launch the first 50 smart cities, revealed the Housing and Urban Affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri, while speaking at the National Real Estate Development Council’s (NAREDCO) 15th National Convention, on August 20, 2019. Apart from this, the ministry has also directed all the smart cities to choose one project that would have a direct impact on the quality of life of its residents. The ministry would bring out a report card on these high impact projects on October 2, 2019 which is also the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
India Seeks Singapore's Expertise On Smart City Mission
The Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry was keen to tap into Singapore's expertise in the urban sector with a focus on the Smart City Mission and information technology-enabled services. Keeping this in view, around 100 Indian town and country planners were recently trained by Singapore-based companies, a move aimed at giving momentum to the government's flagship Smart City Mission, which has a major component of IT-enabled services.
The official said that the Singapore-based companies had evinced interest in urban projects in Assam, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. A consortium of these companies is working to develop Amravati, the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh. Singapore was also working with the Rajasthan government in preparing the concept plans for townships in Udaipur and Jodhpur, and with Himachal Pradesh, to develop an integrated township of Greater Shimla.
The official said that the digital command and control centres would be set up in some of the cities which will help monitor traffic movement and check violations of red lights through censors. These centres will also monitor noise pollution, garbage collection and transportation, and filling and emptying of garbage collection bins.
Tier-II Cities Top The Charts In Smart City Rankings
The Ministry of Urban Development come out with smart city rankings in June 2018. The list placed Nagpur on the top, followed by Vadodara and Ahmedabad. These rankings were based on various parameters, including expenditure, project implementation and performance of civic bodies in the past four years. Out of 99 smart cities, 12 were not evaluated since the third list was released very recently.
Surprisingly, the Tier-II cities have performed much better than the metro cities. While Nagpur scored 259.96, Vadodara scored 195.31, Ahmedabad and Pune at fourth position got 190.59; metro cities such as Chennai scored a meagre 31.46 points and stood at the 37th position. Coimbatore has ranked fairly well in the current ratings, jumping from 20th to 14th position and is the only city from Tamil Nadu to feature in the top 15. Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh stood at the 11th position while Agra and Kanpur stood at 24th and 27th position respectively. State capital Lucknow secured the 43rd position while Allahabad was ranked 40th, Bareilly 50th, Moradabad 61st, Aligarh 77th and Jhansi 81st. Interestingly, Trichy has been ranked 79th position as around 18 projects – at an estimated cost of Rs 1,200 crore are still underway in the Trichy smart city mission.