The Smart Cities Mission is set to expand in the city as new areas have been added under the ‘area development’ section of the project, which includes Aundh, Baner and Balewadi.
Officials said the project area would be increased to nearly 2,500 acres in Aundh, Baner and Balewadi from the present 950 acres.
“The expansion is being done to ensure that uniformity of the project is maintained. Additional funds will be made available for the project,” said Mayor Mukta Tilak. She said more citizens from surrounding areas stand to benefit from the mission. The expansion has been made following the demands made by local residents and leaders.
The Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSDCL) board recently approved the expansion proposal, which stated that more citizens could avail of the benefits under the project. Officials from PSDCL said the current area of work is 950 acres and that funds to the tune of Rs 2,200 crore would be used to implement various projects.
Some board members, however, said the expansion plan is nothing but an exercise to gain political mileage. “Even though more areas are set to be covered by the mission, residents of the new areas will not benefit as there is no increase in the funds,” said Chetan Tupe, Director of PSCDCL.
He said the expansion has been proposed to please the elected members of the BJP representing areas in and around Aundh, Baner and Balewadi. It is just a marketing gimmick.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Centre’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission in the city on June 25 last year. The Pune Municipal Corporation and the state government had then claimed that public participation was the key to the mission.
In January 2016, the Centre had announced the first list of 20 cities to be developed as smart cities. Bhubaneswar topped the list and Pune was second. On June 25 last year, it was announced in the presence of the Prime Minister that Pune would implement various projects under the mission with emphasis on transport, water, road and solar systems. Slum rehabilitation and steps to improve public transport were also on the cards.