Bengaluru enters Smart City list… How and why Mysuru lost the contest to be a Smart City?
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Bengaluru enters Smart City list… How and why Mysuru lost the contest to be a Smart City?

June 27, 2017

By Bhamy V. Shenoy

When we learnt that Bengaluru finally won the competition to be a Smart City in the fourth round, how many Mysureans asked the question why we failed the contest? In fact, we should have asked the question when the first round of twenty cities was announced in August 2015, Davangere and Belagavi made the first list from Karnataka. Mysuru did not make the third list also when four more cities — Mangaluru, Tumkuru, Shivamogga and Hubli-Dharwad from Karnataka — came in the third round.

When we see how we lost the Smart City contest, it becomes evident why we lost the clean city award this year. Smart Cities Mission (SCM) is an urban renewal and retrofitting programme by NDA to replace JNNURM of UPA to develop 100 cities. So far, 90 cities have been selected by a transparent process of competition. A Smart City is one which has basic infrastructure for its residents to lead enjoyable life, clean and sustainable environment through application of “smart” solutions. Under the Smart City initiative, Central Government gives Rs. 500 crore during five years, which is matched by the State Governments. Remaining amount has to be raised by the city through its taxing or other revenue streams or from private sources as loans.

“Some of the core infrastructure elements in a Smart City would include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation, including solid waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor, robust IT connectivity and digitalisation, good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation, sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly and health and education.” This is a quote from the Government website which should attract anyone interested in development.

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One of the innovative strategies of smart city has been the creation of a private company, called a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), in each city to operationalise the Mission at the local level. This is based on lessons learnt from JNNURM. There are some special features of SPV in comparison to JNNURM. They are transparency, greater accountability, better management structure, ability to have joint ventures with the private companies, ability to raise loans, etc. But some aspects of SPV clash with the responsibilities of elected representatives.

Many elected representatives are not happy to share their power especially in today’s environment and that too with a private company. Who would like to give up their political power, which can be easily monetised. There are two types of projects for Smart City Mission — one is specifically directed to develop a small area of the city called Area Based Development (ABD) and another is pan-city projects where funds are allocated to develop the entire city. In Mysuru, we could have easily developed Devaraj Market and surrounding Central Business District (CBD) using part of Rs. 1,000 crore Grant.

SCM is specifically designed to develop dilapidated parts of the city. On average, every Smart City has submitted proposals to spend Rs. 2,000 crore to be spent over 5 years. When we consider MCC’s budget of Rs. 870 Crores for 2017-18, Smart City Mission could have helped the development of Mysuru in many critical areas. For Rs. 1,000 crore of Grant money, Mysuru could have solved the transportation problems of CBD and converted it into a tourist paradise.

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Reason given for our failure to win the SCM contest is that Mysuru did not score well on 13 parameters that included existing service level, past track record reforms, implementation of the JNNURM and self-financing capacity. Where did our CM, MLAs, MPs, MLCs and Corporators fail that Mysuru scored low on these parameters? We need to find fault not only with our elected leaders but also with civil society groups like Chamber of Commerce, Institute of Engineers, Hotel Owners Association, Builders Association, Confederation of Indian Industry, Mysore Grahakara Parishat, etc.

Real blame lies with Mysureans, finally. After all, we elected these leaders who have failed the city. In Mangaluru when suggestions were requested from the public, for both the rounds more than 11,000 suggestions were submitted. How many can we expect from Mysureans? When MGP organised protest campaigns to Save Chamundi, Save People’s Park, we got not more than 2,000 in a city of 10 lakh population.

Lesson we need to learn from our sad experience of losing Smart City project is that unless in democracy we the citizens take active part, we will be the losers.

7 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Bengaluru enters Smart City list… How and why Mysuru lost the contest to be a Smart City?”

  1. The threewisemen says:

    Not surprised at all.
    The same old story of complacency and downright negligence of a number of successive stakeholding groups( elected leaders, prominent citizens, chamber of commerce etc.. then) who have been spineless weaklings for decades.
    When Kengal, who never liked Mysore, made Bangalore the capital city of the then and moved Akashvani building to Bangalore as a result, no murmurs from the stakeholding mob above then.
    Similarly, when Srinivasa Mallya was lobbying for a Regional engineering college to be established in the veritable arid patch which was known for its multitude of Toddy and Arrack huts called Surathkal near Mangalore, a few weak murmurs again from the above stakeholding mob then meant, Surathkal got the regional engineering college, thanks to LB Shastri who listened more from his friend Srinivasa Mallya. Mysore got the flimsy regional college of education as a consolation prize.

  2. Rahul Chanderkanth Kapatkar says:

    We are already smart !! :P, You might not know ! Observe mysore deeply, you will know.

  3. Sowmya says:

    Grown up in Mysore, I always thought Mysore was the most awesome place to live in with its lovely people. How wrong I was!!

    Having lived in Bangalore for nearly a decade, I got a chance to come back to namma Mysore and settle, I was so glad that I accepted immediately.

    Came here and settled so happily that I will be having the best part of my life here.. After living here for 3 months I can see why Mysuru is still lacking so many facilities that any second tier cities would easily get.

    People, I openly say you guys are LAZY. Yes, you want everything to be served on the platter. People never take initiatives here in Mysore. Everyone will be ready to blame in a split second!
    On the contrary, Bangalore has more problems than Mysore but, people fight for everything they strive for best of everything and they will never settle for anything less than best.
    But guys, lemme say you have best of everything already. But, you are soo lazy that you do not follow what is already served for you!! You have best of roads, but you never follow rules! No helmet. No lane discipline. No horn (seriously that look you give when you get honked by someone..
    aah it will be as if he asked your prized possession!!) But everyone has road rage to the peak!! You get Cauvery water to your doorstep every single day!! no one values it. You keep wasting as if it’s your right to waste!!
    You guys say employment is a problem and all companies are shutting down, no hopes for Mysore etc etc .. I’ve seen the major working class of the mysoreans never work to their full potential to reap the good results. Yes, you do work guys I’m not saying that you will not work.. all I’m saying is you never try to push your limits. You never dream BIG, but all you do is hope for big results! Tell me how’s it possible?
    You guys have that “Chaltha hai” attitude too much.. to the extent that it’s in your blood right now!!
    Wake up, guys… you have best of everything.. make best out of it. Don’t be the first one to jump and start a quarrel for silly issues in the middle of the road.. be the one who follows the rules and regulation.
    Save Mysore .. don’t be So Lazy that you cannot up your scale with other cities like Mangalore, Davangere etc.
    On the other part yes, I’m still loving Mysore for its nature, cleanliness, pure air.

  4. Pooja says:

    Instead of scolding mysoreans it’s better if we try to change ourselves, I agree that we lost the cleanest city title and then we even lost the smart city contest but have really tried enough as individuals to change something in mysore
    BETTER TO CHANGE OURSELVES THAN CHANGING THE WORLD. Take the initiative guys, cheers and peace

  5. Supraj says:

    Our Great Maharajas have already contributed enough and no one else can beat that and need not mention our Mysore as smart city when we already know the value of the place, contributions of our Great Maha Rajas itself is enough, let the city be calm and not polluted, with the blessings of Goddess let Mysore be with the same prestige and pride. No other city is compitent enough with our Great Mysore.

  6. Sunil Reddy says:

    There is no need to be disappointed! Mysuru will always be our pride. Citizens of Mysuru should now take it up as a challenge in making things better. We all know how JNNURM was under-utilised by our govt across the state. I believe we need to make use of our common sense instead of technology to make our lives better. Citizens should take initiatives for better results since civic agencies have failed to help.


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